In keeping with the tradition of this series, Game 5 of the NBA Finals was all about a team trying to make a comeback. After trading wins with the Miami Heat in the first four games, the San Antonio Spurs survived a late-game push by the Heat to pull out an impressive 114-104 victory Sunday night in their last contest at home for the season.
About an hour before tipoff, a surprising announcement was made by the Spurs that would ultimately affect the outcome of this match: Manu Ginobili, who customarily fills the role of sixth man for the team, would be part of the starting lineup for the first time all season.
Gregg Popovich’s boldness paid off: Ginobili hadn’t had a game where he’d scored over 20 points with nine assists since November of 2010. But he capitalized on a hot start, and finished with 24 points and 10 assists this evening. Ginobili is considering retirement following this season.
Whereas Game 4 ultimately became a contest between two teams’ Big Threes, tonight’s story was all about role players. One glance at the box score tells you everything you need to know: all five of the Spurs’ starters finished with scoring in double figures (and combined for 107 points) while only three of Miami’s finished in double digits.
In addition to Ginobili’s podium game, Tony Parker provided a very productive 26 minutes while battling a strained hamstring, finishing with 26 points on 10-of-14 shooting and five assists. Tim Duncan had 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting and pulled down 12 rebounds. Kawhi Leonard also shot the ball well; he had 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting (with 2-of-4 coming from three point range) and eight rebounds.
In a game where, as a team, the Spurs shot 60% from the floor for the game (at halftime, they were shooting a cool 61.8% from the floor, their highest first half in the postseason since 2007), Danny Green was entirely other tonight. His 24 points came on 8-of-15 shooting with 6-of-10 coming from beyond the arc, including a dagger three in the fourth quarter to all but close this one out.
Green got into the record books with this game, with the most made three-pointers in a Finals series ever (he’s made 25). The record-breaking three came with Ray Allen, the previous record holder with 22 made threes, guarding him. Green also chipped in six assists and played lockdown transition defense. If the Spurs win the series, Green is making quite a case for Finals MVP.
The Miami Heat’s starters (and role players) were simply outscored in Game 5. Though LeBron finished with 25 points, six rebounds, eight assists, and four steals, it came on 8-of-22 shooting and he visibly was having a difficult time shaking Boris Diaw’s defense. Dwyane Wade also struggled, ending up with 25 points on 10-of-22 shooting, four rebounds and 10 assists. Chris Bosh went for 16 points and six rebounds. Ray Allen contributed 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting, boasting a perfect 4-of-4 from three and Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers combined for 14 points and five rebounds.
The Spurs ripped off three significant runs at different points in this game: 19-1, 15-2 and 10-0, forced 13 turnovers and pulled down 36 rebounds to Miami’s 34.
The Spurs lead the series 3-2 as they head to Miami for Game 6 at 8 PM Tuesday.