After playing three games in San Antonio, the NBA Finals return to South Beach for Game 6 and Game 7 if needed this week. Tuesday night could be the night when the new NBA champion is crowned as the Spurs enter the game with a 3-2 lead. However, very few people are picking the Western conference champions to overcome the Miami Heat. The defending champions have a fantastic record in bounce back games and surely will not drop a Game 6 on home court after the deflating Game 5 loss.
The one major question that remains in this match-up is whether Miami can compete with San Antonio when the Spurs play their team basketball. Game 5 was an example of five players producing major points. Manu Ginobili stepped in to the starting line-up and played easily his best game of the season let alone the playoffs. Ginobili and Tony Parker worked like magicians in the back-courts putting up 25 and 26 points respectively.
Tim Duncan continues to produce consistently and almost unnoticed on the front court, while arguably the story of these NBA finals has been the play of San Antonio’s younger players Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard.
Green has been on torrid shooting pace and took over a pretty huge record on Sunday. He went 6-for-10 from beyond the arc on Sunday and now owns the record for most threes made in an NBA final. A record that was previously held by current Heat player Ray Allen. Meanwhile, Leonard has been partly noted for the terrific job he has done holding LeBron James in check and executing Gregg Popovich’s defensive plan just perfectly. He had 16 points on Sunday, a series high for the first year pro, and is just another major threat from three-point range.
It’s a lot for Miami to try and handle in a single match-up. Defensively they are struggling to cover all of the looks that Popovich can give them and Erik Spoelstra’s offense has also been thrown askew by the strategy of begging James to shoot. LeBron struggled in the second half of Game 5 leaving Dwyane Wade and his banged up knees as the man who had to try and force the issue.
It isn’t clear just how Spoelstra will react, but it seems unlikely that Mike Miller, who hasn’t made a shot in the past two games, will start again tonight. Miami’s coach definitely has some line-up questions to answer.
However, just as pressing will be the attention upon James. ‘The King’ and his legacy are in serious jeopardy entering these next two games. Three NBA Finals appearances in three straight years is a lot less impressive if you only win one championship. James will need to attack, he will need to make shots and he needs to find a way to will his basketball team to victory regardless of how the rest of his team mates play.
Betting Preview: Miami (-6.5) vs. San Antonio
Miami remains the sensible pick in this match-up even with the spread right now. James, Wade and Chris Bosh will find a way to get it on and as has been the case through every game this season, the more desperate team will win. It feels like Popovich won’t risk the health of his ‘big three’ and so seeing the Heat pull away from a tight game late in the fourth quarter would be no surprise.
The Pick: Miami (-6.5) (5dimes.eu)
Writer’s Record Against The Spread: 20-14