Another chapter in this NBA Finals story was written last night, as this unpredictable series took another turn that has people questioning who will be crowned champion at the end of it all. In game 3 we saw the Spurs (mainly Danny Green, & Gary Neal) light up the Heat on their home floor with a record 3-pt performance, and a double digit win. It was the 3rd straight game that San Antonio held 4-time MVP LeBron James under 20 points in these Finals, and made the rest of the Heat team look incapable of playing even above average.
All of that changed last night as we witnessed the Heat team many envisioned when they first formed 2 summers ago. Although it wasn't the most efficient game for the entire team, the most important stat for Miami was: 85. That's 85 combined points from the Big 3 as LeBron James (33 pts, 11 rebs, 4 ast), Dwyane Wade (32 pts, 6 rebs, 6 steals), & Chris Bosh (20 pts, 13 rebs, 2 blks) dominated game 4.
Sparked by the play of Dwyane Wade (who reminded people of the '06 Wade days) the Heat's core players took over, and were all over the court making plays. Wade was aggressive, scoring in the paint, breaking down the Spurs defense, & also making his presence known defensively getting key blocks & steals. LeBron showed more aggressive play this time around, which opens up everything on the floor for his team. His physical play in the paint was key for Miami as he was also able to get his jump shot going. And Chris Bosh was efficient attacking the paint (no 3-pt attempts), and defending the paint at an elite level causing problems for San Antonio down low.
Not sure if this is an official stat, but I'm sure the Heat almost always win a game when the big 3 combines for more than 80 points. With that said the team defense was much better in Game 4 not allowing the easy looks from beyond the arc. In the previous game the Spurs used the 3-pter as the main weapon of choice to beat the Heat, and Miami eliminated that option from the start only allowing 8 threes.
The other key factor that helped lead to this Heat victory were the turnovers they caused. If there is one thing you don't do vs this team is turn the ball over, due to the fact that turnovers so quickly turn into transition baskets for Miami. They haven't been able to run the floor as much until last night as they were able to implement their fast-paced open court attack vs the Spurs. San Antonio turned the ball over 18 times, to Miami's 9. Tony Parker (15 pts, 9 ast) who had no turnovers in game 1 had 3 this time around, and was held scoreless in the second half. Tim Duncan (20 pts, 5 rebs) had 3 turnovers as well, and if things couldn't have gotten worst his rebounding total was cut short due to Chris Bosh's stifling defense.
There isn't a complex answer to what happened in Game 5. Their is however a simple answer to what the Heat need to do in order to win this series. The Big 3 must produce at an all-star level in all phases of their game, and as a team the defensive effort must be at an elite level as well. We saw that despite this Spurs team being so balanced, and well coached if the Heat big 3 are combining for 85 points there are very few ways the Spurs can counter that.
The Spurs, and head coach Gregg Popovich will surely go to the film room looking to make adjustments as will Erik Spoelstra who will look to keep this level of play going for his team. We should all be excited for the rest of this series, as these NBA Finals are just getting to the good part.
Game 5 of the NBA Finals featuring the Miami Heat & San Antonio Spurs will be Sunday, June 16th at 8 pm ET. Broadcasted by ABC.