By Craig Fields
Well what do you know — a Manu Ginobili sighting. I was beginning to wonder if Manu Ginobili was perhaps the greatest magician of all-time because of his disappearing act in this year’s NBA Finals. His reappearance however was right on time as the Spurs beat the Heat 114-104 Sunday night to take a 3-2 series lead in the NBA Finals.
His production and efficiency in Game 5 was vintage Ginobili.
He scored 24 points going 8-14 from the field, while dishing out 10 assists. He was extremely active and played the amount of minutes that he had been wanting the entire series. The move to put him in the starting lineup will go down as one of the more brilliant moves by Popavich this postseason.
This series has been hard to get a grip on. There has been no momentum game to game. There have been no consecutive wins for either team. The lack of consistency in this series has been palpable. Rotations, playing time, and stat lines have been so different game to game that picking a Finals MVP might be as big of an adventure as the series itself.
Dwyane Wade strengthened his chances of winning the coveted award by having his second good game in a row going 10-22 from the field and scoring 25 points, handing out 10 helpers and grabbing 4 rebounds. Even though LeBron James was a little less effective getting his 25 points going 8-22 from the field, he was still a stat sheet stuffer as he picked up 8 assists, 6 rebounds and 4 steals.
Chris Bosh had a pretty efficient but pedestrian game going 7-11 from the floor, scoring 16 points and corralling 6 caroms. The Big 3s totals of 66 points on 25-55 shooting (45%) 16 rebounds and 19 assists were good enough to win the game. The problem was that outside of Ray Allen, who had his best game of the series so far as he played his most minutes and scored his most points, was about the only help the Heat team received.
His 21 points in 30 minutes of work, while impressive, was the Big 3’s only real source of reprieve . He scored 14 of those points in the fourth quarter as the Heat were attempting to make an improbable and ultimately failed attempt at a comeback when the Spurs lead had ballooned to 20 points.
It is rather hard to say what caused the sudden onslaught of Allen points in the fourth, but I would be willing to bet that it had something to do with Danny Green breaking Ray Allen’s record of 3-point shots made in a Finals series. The record stood at 22 until Green shattered it in the third quarter of this game by hitting his own mark of 25.
Speaking of Danny Green, he has thrown his hat into the ring for NBA Finals MVP with his performance. He had another good night hitting 8-15 shots from the field (6-10 from 3-point land) and totaling 6 boards. The secondary story of the night had to be the play of the Spurs starters. They scored all but seven of the 114 points scored by the team.
This was the best combined effort by the Spurs starters so far. Inserting Ginobili into the starting lineup definitely had something to do with that. Erik Spoelstra will have to dig into his bag of tricks and pull out a heck of a coaching gem in Game 6 if the Heat are to make it to a Game 7. Said Spoelstra of the changes that need to be made, “They just absolutely outplayed us. At times they were just picking one guy out at a time and going at us mano-a-mano. That’s got to change.”
We will see…