Tuesday, June 18, 2013

NBA Finals Update - Games 4 & 5

The 2013 NBA Finals resumed Thursday night in San Antonio for game 4. The way the series has gone, the team who loses a game rallies to win the next. Miami has even done it in this pattern for the entire series vs. Indiana in the prior round as well. So the Spurs surely expected some Heat. Yeah I intended that one.

It wasn't to be in the very beginning, however, as San Antonio came out strong, and had the early 19-11 lead. Everyone would soon get involved in the Miami offense, though, and they'd hold the 1st quarter lead, 29-26. Both teams were shooting well, and the intensity was obvious. Especially from the big-three dressed in red. Yeah Dwyane Wade and LeBron James came to play tonight. Their lead would be 9 by mid-2nd quarter, and both defenses began to tighten-up. Spurs came to within 5, and then Miami would extend it back out to 9 again (47-38) before San Antonio

Image Source (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

would go on a huge run to finish the half strong - something Pop stressed from our last loss. Parker & Diaw would score 11 together, while the Spurs held the Heat to 2 during the stretch, and at halftime we were tied at 49.

This one remained tight, as the Spurs held Miami's lead to 6 at the most, and after 3 quarters, the score was 81-76. Both teams struggled to score at the beginning of the 4th quarter, but the Heat found the groove first, and the lead was 10 at the midway point. Wade and LeBron suddenly were hitting almost everything they shot, they were getting the shots they wanted, and Chris Bosh was even working in the low post, contributing offense of his own. Spurs hung with them for the most part, but once Miami extended the lead to 15 with 5 minutes to go (100-85), it was clear that a win in this one would be hard to come by for San Antonio. Spurs would only score 8 in the final 5+ minutes, but putting up 15 of their own, LeBron & company Heat held on for the 109-93 victory. Here's ESPN's game-4 box score. James, Wade and Bosh combined for 85 points - their most ever as a threesome.


Onto game 5 Sunday evening, the last of the three in SA. Between games 4 and 5, I read a lot of articles on how Manu's "done", how he's not been himself in a long time. I was even in agreement, as I produced a few stats to show my Mom just how much he's hurting our team sometimes. Going backwards, this is what that looked like:

vs MIA: 10-29 (34.5%).. 3-16 3-pt. (18.8%).. 6 reb/ 12 ast/ 3 stl/ 11 fouls.. 7 TO   (4 g's)
vs MEM: 11-27 (40.7%).. 4-14 3-pt. (28.6%).. 21 reb/ 18 ast/ 2 st/ 12 fouls.. 10 TO   (4 g's)
vs. GS: 26-76 (34.2%).. 7-40 3-pt. (17.5%).. 30 reb/ 38 ast/ 10 st/ 13 fouls.. 15 TO   (6 g's)
vs. LAL: 14-30 (46.7%).. 7-14 3-pt. (50.0%).. 12 reb/ 19 ast/ 7 st/ 4 fouls.. 8 TO (4 g's)

So I thought Pop should bench him before this gets any worse. So here we are at game time, and what does Pop do? He starts him.. Doh!

It appeared to pay off, however, as Manu hit his first shot (nearly a three), and dished out several assists right off the bat. It wasn't long before he hit a three, and was getting everyone involved -even more so than Tony- to the tune of a 1st quarter score of 32-19, Spurs, as San Antonio held Miami to 2 points in the final 4:45 of the quarter. But the drought continued, as the Spurs' lead was 14 after the first 3 minutes of the 2nd (36-22). This lead ballooned to 17 before Miami started to make their trips to the offensive end count. They would go on a 14-2

Image Source

run, and the score was at that point, 47-42, Spurs, with about 4 minutes left in the half.

Both D's tightened-up again, but the fast pace of the first 20 minutes was already in the books. Parker hit a last second shot to give the Spurs the 61-52 halftime lead. A lead that would be shrunk to 1 within 2 minutes. Then San Antonio would go on a 9-2 run to take the 61-60 lead back to 70-62, a lead the Spurs would maintain until about 3 minutes to go in the 3rd as the Heat would hit 7-straight (75-74). Then the Spurs would blow it open! Danny Green has continued his super-hot 3pt. shooting, and had hit 4 at this point already, but it was a Green three that began a 19-1 run through the end of the 3rd and the start of the 4th. Just before Green's 5th three, which tied Ray Allen's record for 3-pointers in a finals series, the score was 75-74, with 3+ minutes showing on the 3rd-quarter clock. After 3 quarters, Spurs led 87-75. By the end of the run, there was 9:30 showing on the clock, and the score was 94-75.

Those 5½ minutes would prove to be the difference in the game. But the Heat would stay strong, and make it a game again - coming to within 8 again with only 1:37 to play (109-101). Enter Danny Green again, who would sink his 6th three of the game to break Allen's record, and pretty much seal the game. San Antonio takes game-5 114-104, and leads the series 3-2, as it shifts back to Miami. Here is ESPN's game-5 box score.

Yeah Green hit a bunch more threes, and is probably our Finals MVP at this point, but the hero of this game was Manu Ginobili. Dude came out of nowhere and put up 24 points on 8 of 12 shooting, and added 10 assists.. all while everyone in the nation was thinking he should probably be benched for now. That's Pop! Bench him? Hell no, I'm gonna put him in the starting lineup so he gets to play with the starters, and not have to feel like the entire burden's on him to carry the second unit. That's the genius as we know him. Gregg Popovich never fails to impress me with his adjustments.

Game-6 is Tuesday night in Miami.

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