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NBA Finals Game 5 preview, Heat at Spurs: Miami tries to put River Walk party on hold

Jun 15, 2014, 10:59 AM EDT

LeBron Hames, Dwyane Wade LeBron Hames, Dwyane Wade

SAN ANTONIO — The Miami Heat were relaxed.

The day after a Game 4 loss that left them bewildered Ray Allen spent the day on a bike ride, going 14 miles or so from his Coral Gables home, picking up some lunch along the way, just getting outside and clearing his head. The rest of the Heat did something similar, whatever it was it was not basketball. Friday they took a day off.

Miami is down 3-1, on the brink of elimination at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs heading into Sunday night’s Game 5, but when they showed up in San Antonio Saturday afternoon they were surprisingly relaxed and confident.

Last year they faced two elimination games in the Finals against the Spurs, yet won them both. This year it will take three in a series that feels different after San Antonio won the last two games convincingly. But the Heat acted like a team that has been through plenty of adversity and been to four straight Finals. They acted like they have been there before.

That means either they have found their groove, their energy that they can bring for 48 minutes this time, that they are ready to fight for this series.

Or they are resigned to their fate.

“Why not us?” LeBron James asked. “History is broken all the time. And obviously we know we’re against the greatest of odds. No team has ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in the Finals, but there was a point where no team came back from a 2-0… There was a point where no team came back from a 31 deficit in the Western Conference Finals, and then Phoenix did it. One of our teammates was on that team, James Jones….

“So history is made to be broken, and why not me be a part of it? That would be great.”

“What we talked about is we’re not so entitled or jaded that we’re above having to fight for it, and that’s what it is right now,” Heat coach Eric Spoelstra said.

As it has been throughout this series, the questions for Miami in Game 5 at the defensive end — their pressure and rotations have not been able to keep up with the Spurs ball movement.

“Regardless (of how we played the pick-and-roll) it felt like we were a step slow on all our rotations, closing out to the three point, the low man getting to the big on the rolls,” Rashard Lewis said. “We was just always late, they were a step faster.”

Even when Miami did make the right rotations it didn’t matter — San Antonio shot 64.7 percent on contested shots in Game 4, 61.5 percent in Game 3 (stats via the NBA’s player tracking SportsVU cameras). San Antonio just is not missing.

One thing Miami is counting on to come back is a regression to the mean — San Antonio can’t keep shooting like this, can they? No, not over a long stretch of games they couldn’t, but that’s also not what the Spurs need. They just need one more.

Miami’s problem is after 13 games between these teams since the start of last year’s Finals the Spurs have grown accustomed to and comfortable with the Heat defense — Miami tries to use their athleticism to overwhelm, force turnovers and rushed shots. The Spurs have seen it — and they saw the same tactics from Dallas and Oklahoma City these playoffs — and it doesn’t faze them anymore. Plus, an older, banged-up Miami team doesn’t dial up the same pressure it did the past couple playoffs.

In the face of that pressure the Spurs no longer lose their offensive balance and unpredictability — all five guys are live, all five guys are a threat on every play.

“Everybody’s dangerous on our team,” Boris Diaw explained. “Everybody can score at any time. It’s not like a pattern, like some times you do scouting on a team and you say ‘Who’s the head of the snake, who’s the guy who’s going to score?’ You keep them from scoring and you’re going to win the game. With us it’s a little bit different, anybody can score on any given night. You saw that during the whole regular season. One night Patty Mills is the leading scorer on our team, some times it’s Danny (Green), sometimes it’s Tony (Parker), sometimes it’s Manu (Ginobili), sometime’s it’s Tim (Duncan). It can be anyone.”

Tony Parker leads the Spurs in scoring in the Finals averaging 18.5 points a game on 50.9 percent shooting — those are not gaudy numbers. The Spurs have talent — Tim Duncan is arguably the greatest power forward ever to play the game, Kawhi Leonard is a Finals MVP favorite exploding on the scene, Manu Ginobili just keeps making plays — but they all put their ego aside for the team.

When you asked Miami players what they need to do differently you got variations of their standard answer — we just need to do what we do better. We likely will see some rotation changes — Ray Allen started the second half of Game 4 and expect he starts Game 5, we also could see some Shane Battier — but the fact is Miami’s depth is limited. Plus guys they count on to step up, Mario Chalmers and Chris Andersen in particular, have not. That’s not even mentioning Dwyane Wade aging before our eyes and Chris Bosh needing to be more aggressive when he gets his chances. It’s pretty much been LeBron James against the world, and no team ever won the Larry O’Brien trophy that way. Just like no team has ever come from 3-1 down in the Finals to win.

“But you can’t start thinking about two games ahead, three games ahead, all of that,” Spoelstra said on Saturday. “It’s just about tomorrow.”

If the Heat don’t there will be a parade down the River Walk just a few tomorrows after that.

  1. JT - Jun 15, 2014 at 11:23 AM

    This serious is over tonight. I’m just sad basketball will be over.

    • kinggw - Jun 15, 2014 at 1:49 PM

      As a Heat fan I’d like to disagree with you. As an objective person, it’s almost impossible not to agree, considering the way the Heat played in Game 4.

      That being said, this series has defied conventional wisdom from the start so I wouldn’t be surprised if that trend continued tonight.

      • JT - Jun 15, 2014 at 2:17 PM

        The Spurs ain’t losing the clincher at home I just don’t see it after the Heat got mopped 2xs in a row on their own home floor

  2. sportsfan18 - Jun 15, 2014 at 11:48 AM

    As the famous Clubber Lang predicted in his fight with Rocky…

    I predict pain!!!

    I pity the fool(s)!

    Shouldn’t even have gotten on the plane to San Antonio…

    Please Spurs, win and end this thing.

    Good luck.

    Timmy’s career > Kobe’s career

    • kb2408 - Jun 15, 2014 at 12:12 PM

      Why must we rank who’s career was better? Timmy is the greatest PF ever and in my book it’s not even a debate. However, Kobe ain’t exactly chopped liver either. Just enjoy them both because sadly they won’t be out there too much longer.

      • jimeejohnson - Jun 15, 2014 at 12:15 PM

        SportsFan is a statistical genius (and a Melo hater) and loves ranking. I don’t think he’s correct (about Melo, either), but Tim Duncan is definitely in Kobe’s caliber of superstar. I’ll miss Timmy and Kobe, a lot.

      • billtetley53 - Jun 15, 2014 at 12:45 PM

        You do it all the time, you dunce! Trying to fit a square peg( kobe) into round hole(goat).

        Can you ever stop being a hypocrite? Or being overly sensitive about kobe when someones opinion doesnt jibe with yours?

        Heres a hint, Sportsfan18 is trolling you, because he knows youll give him the reaction he seeks, youre just not smart enough to catch on without help.

      • kb2408 - Jun 15, 2014 at 1:23 PM

        @bb53, dude, who cares? Get a freaking life. This is all fun and games for MOST of us even though we love our teams. You are one of the few losers that pop up every week or so and rarely comment on the story. You’re whole pathetic cry for attention is old. Go away…

      • billtetley53 - Jun 15, 2014 at 1:44 PM

        You dont think this fun for me? I enjoy helping you look like the fool you are.(although, you dont need much help.) You arent even supposed to be on here, remember? The only attention Im seeking, is to bring attention to your ignorance.

        I say the Heat win tonight, they wont go down without a fight. Ssatisfied?

        Remember I said that while you are getting youre stool pushed in at your favorite bar.

        You hypocritical Idiot you.

    • ahash1 - Jun 15, 2014 at 12:15 PM

      thats why ur mentioning Kobe’s name in an article not even related to him or his team.. thank you for pointing how great he is again..

      • jimeejohnson - Jun 15, 2014 at 12:17 PM

        They didn’t used to call him “LakerLuver” for nuthin’!

    • jimeejohnson - Jun 15, 2014 at 12:23 PM

      Maybe the Heat heard about the delicious San Antonio Mexican seafood that they can’t get in Miami. It would be worth the flight, especially if you’re not the one paying, just to get that killer Mexican seafood in San Antonio.

      Not just kidding!

  3. kb2408 - Jun 15, 2014 at 12:09 PM

    Oh, there will most definitely be a party on the River Walk tonight…BOOK IT!!

    • jimeejohnson - Jun 15, 2014 at 12:13 PM

      I think you are finally correct. Spurs playing their brand of west is best basketball should do it.

      • kb2408 - Jun 15, 2014 at 1:26 PM

        What do you mean “finally”?!

  4. jimeejohnson - Jun 15, 2014 at 12:20 PM

    Thumbs ups and downs are going crazy! I saw 2 thumbs up for kb2408 change instantaneously to 2 thumbs downs. WTF? Just kidding: anyone who cares about thumbs is a….on second thought, ain’t no time to hate. Happy Father’s Day!

  5. redandgoldhitman52 - Jun 15, 2014 at 12:27 PM

    the spurs are one one of the best teams in the history of the nba. they’ve battled through murderers row which is the western conference. they’ll battled through the shaq/kobe lakers, the early 2000’s kings, the nash suns, the 2000’s mavericks. any of those teams would destroy this heat team. lebron gets to the nba finals every year by default. the eastern conference is a joke. lebron would’nt have 2 rings if miami was in the western conference. he’d struggle just to get out of the 1st round.

  6. BrownsTown - Jun 15, 2014 at 12:29 PM

    “We was just always late, they were a step faster.”

    Is this coin flip conjugation of verbs or what?

    Either way, he wouldn’t be late if he’d get back on the PEDs.

  7. kb2408 - Jun 15, 2014 at 1:29 PM

    How do you know when a guy is a lame in real life? When he’s on PBT inviting another dude to meet him in L.A. for a fist fight.

    • billtetley53 - Jun 15, 2014 at 3:31 PM

      How do you know a guy is a pos in real life?

      Makes a bet, that if he loses, he will leave pbt for good. Instead said pos changes his screen name when he sees one of his many predictions is wrong(i see a theme here on predictions). Then when he is called out as the welsher he is, claims that “someone stole his name”.

      I was simply giving you an alternative, Im going to be in your area in July, youre just too much of a CS to have a conversation about our differences. If that eould lead to your punchable face being struck, all the better. You cant tell that isnt a weekly occurence already.

      Not only are you the biggest know nothing on here, youre a spineless coward too. That and you certaunly have no honor either. I didnt expect any less from you. Your persona on here is an extensionof the pos you are offline. You “love” your team because that is all you have in your sad, pathetic life.

      • davidly - Jun 15, 2014 at 3:50 PM

        Gee, mister. You’re so so brave and honorable.

  8. csbanter - Jun 15, 2014 at 2:20 PM

    Magic had a 5-4 NBA finals record with LA, Bird was 3-2,MJ was a perfect 6-0, Kobe 5-2, Tim Duncan 5-1. Lebron could be 2-3 after tonight. Losing in the finals happens, so should the Heat come up short tonight Lebron has nothing to feel bad about. Chances are he’ll get a couple of shots at the title before all is said and done.

    • antistratfordian - Jun 15, 2014 at 5:23 PM

      When MJ was LBJ’s age he was only 2-0 in the Finals. James has already been there 5 times, and he could go 4 more times.

      But it’s not LBJ’s fault that MJ wasn’t good enough to drag undeserving teams all the way to the big dance. If James was on the 1989-90 Bulls or the 1994-95 Bulls, he probably would’ve taken those teams to the Finals, instead of losing in the Conference Finals and Semifinals.

    • antistratfordian - Jun 15, 2014 at 5:25 PM

      When MJ was LBJ’s age he was only 2-0 in the Finals. James has already been there 5 times, and he could go 4 more times.

      But if LBJ was on the 1989-90 Bulls or the 1994-95 Bulls, he probably would’ve taken those teams to the Finals, instead of losing in the Conference Finals and Semifinals.

      • mrhonorama - Jun 15, 2014 at 7:15 PM

        When Jordan was LBJ’s age, he had a higher PER. In fact, he still does, even with his Wizards’ seasons dragging his stats down a bit.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 15, 2014 at 7:46 PM

        Well within the margin of error. If PER could quantify everything LeBron did to give his team an advantage it wouldn’t even be close. When Bosh goes out with an injury, James just becomes the best PF in the game. Can PER quantify that versatility? No. But it’s off the charts. If MJ lost either Grant or Rodman his team was going home – he couldn’t make up the loss.

  9. csbanter - Jun 15, 2014 at 2:22 PM

    Duncan is only 4-1 , a bit presumptuous on my part I give myself a thumbs down….oh well

  10. jbeagles23 - Jun 15, 2014 at 2:48 PM

    Being in 5 NBA finals at age 29 is nothing to hate on. No one can say with a straight face lebron isn’t the best in the world. It’s a team game and the spurs are better than the heat. Wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see these two teams in the finals again next year

  11. djshnooks - Jun 15, 2014 at 3:27 PM

    All I have left now that hockey is over is this? Any other time I’d want it to go to game #7…but I hope the Spurs end this.

    By the way…I’m sure the average basketball fan pays attention enough to remember this stuff…but for people who don’t care, but still read your blog anyways…it’d be nice if you mentioned what time this game started tonight? That’s kind of why I come here and read this stuff…so I don’t have to look elsewhere! 😉

  12. stl333 - Jun 15, 2014 at 4:52 PM

    How does one “break history” ..?

  13. stl333 - Jun 15, 2014 at 4:52 PM

    How does one “break history” ..?

  14. antistratfordian - Jun 15, 2014 at 5:13 PM

    Does anyone recall when the 72-10 Chicago Bulls were up 3-0 on the Seattle Supersonics in the 1996 NBA Finals? They won Game 1 by 17, Game 2 by 4 & Game 3 by 22.

    Surely the Bulls were going to win in 4 games…

    Except Chicago lost Game 4 by 21 and then they lost Game 5 by 11.

    The Heat are capable of winning the next two games and forcing a Game 7. They are even capable of winning that Game 7.

  15. onbucky96 - Jun 15, 2014 at 5:35 PM

    Huh? They’re still playing? Sorry, we tuned out. Sincerely, Americans located outside of Miami, San Antonio, New York, Chicago, and L.A.

  16. themagicfanguy - Jun 15, 2014 at 11:07 PM

    Lebron would not beat Shaq and Penny in the ECF, sorry.

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