Few NBA Finals basketball series have swung back and forwards as much as the 2013 finals between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs. Game 1 saw Gregg Popovich and the Spurs surprisingly nullify the favorites. In Game 2, the 2012 champion Heat struck back seemingly taking hold of the series with a superb 34-3 run.
The series headed back to San Antonio knotted at 1-1 with both teams knowing that they effectively needed to win the split in Texas. The Spurs made the first statement completely dominating the Heat in Game 3 and making Game 2 look like a fluke incident. LeBron James scored just 15 points and was once again being peppered with the label ‘playoff flop’, while Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade looked beleaguered and incapable of making a serious impact.
Then it all changed again on Thursday night in Game 4. Wade looked like the 2006 version of one of the game’s best shooting guards dropping 33 points, James re-emerged with a dominant all-round effort and 33 points and Bosh re-discovered his jump shot knocking down 20 points. The ‘big three’ played arguably their best ever playoff game together with their backs against the wall.
The series enters Game 5 very much in the same position as it did in Game 3. Neither team has won consecutive games in this series so far, which might make the Spurs slight favorites in this one, but more importantly will leave both teams not wanting to have to try and win Games 6 and 7 to take the championship.
For Miami Game 5 is about consistency. Game 4 was a demonstration of how deadly this team can be when they are firing on all cylinders, but playing at that level has been a seemingly rare occurrence for most of these playoffs. Wade’s knees remain a serious concern regardless of his Game 4 performance.
Potentially more significant for Game 5 is the play of Bosh. If the team’s power forward/center can produce again on Sunday then that might just be the sort of support that can help James get this team past Popovich and his defensive set-up. Regardless of who else steps up, it is clear that LeBron needs to set the tone and needs to be aggressive in Game 5. He cannot afford to rely upon his team mates.
San Antonio have an injury concern of their own. Tony Parker has gone on record as saying that his hamstring is in danger of tearing and there must be some concerns about the ability for the team’s playmaker to get to the basket and create space to run this offense. Manu Ginobili continues to struggle mightily and Tim Duncan had a poor outing in Game 4.
The Spurs’ ‘big three’ have received a lot of help in this series, but there has to be the feeling that all three will need to have a good game together at least once in this series if San Antonio is going to beat Miami two more times. A lot will depend on Game 5. One of the two big threes needs to step up.
Betting Preview: San Antonio (+1.5) vs. Miami
Parker’s health is of serious concern. The flaws of the Heat and their team set up have been shown very clearly during the 2013 NBA playoffs. However, the Spurs look like a team that is just a little bit too beaten up. Surely, Miami won’t allow a third game to slip by them. There is a feeling that if James brings his ‘A’ game offensively and gets support from a couple of players than the Heat will win the basketball game. Sunday night is the opportunity for Miami to take it all.
The Pick: Miami (-1.5) (5dimes.eu)
Writer’s Record Against The Spread: 20-13