NBA Finals 2012 TV Schedule: What to Watch for in Game 5 of Heat vs. Thunder
The wait might finally be over. Ever since LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade as members of the Miami Heat, the sole focus has been winning a championship. One more victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder will make that dream reality.
It's not a done deal, however. The Thunder haven't played up to their usual high standards over the past three games. If they bounce back and steal Game 5, suddenly the momentum will shift in their favor heading home. The Heat have to remain on their toes.
Which team will win Game 5?
Here's a look at all the key information for Game 5 and some things to watch for in tonight's potential series-clinching contest.
Where: American Airlines Arena in Miami, Fla.
When: Thursday, June 21 at 9 p.m. ET
|Date||Time (ET) ||Channel||Home Team||Road Team|
|Thursday, June 21||9 p.m.||ABC||Heat||Thunder|
|Sunday, June 24*||8 p.m.||ABC||Thunder||Heat|
|Tuesday, June 26*||9 p.m.||ABC||Thunder||Heat|
*Games 6 and 7 if necessary.
Watch to Watch in Game 5
Health of LeBron James
James was hampered by cramps near the end of Game 4 and looked in serious pain on the sidelines. Luckily for the Heat, they were able to close out the game anyway. There have been no signs that he's in any danger of missing tonight's game.
That said, if James is at any less than full strength, it will be a major problem for Miami. As James Harden's lack of production has proven for Oklahoma City, these two teams don't have enough depth to thrive if one of their star players is struggling.
Even though James likes to play it off as all the talk about him lacking a ring doesn't bother him, it's hard to believe quieting the critics wouldn't bring him some satisfaction. Assuming he's healthy, he will dominate tonight.
Who will be the closer for Miami tonight?
Miami's Closing Ability
The toughest game to win is the last one. All postseason there has been an ongoing conversation about Miami's "clutch gene" and the team's inability to step up in key moments. Closing out the series would answer all of those questions.
After four games, it's clear the Heat are most effective when they are attacking the basket. That's what they have to do again in Game 5. If they start settling for a lot of mid-range and contested jumpers, it will be clear there's still a mental hurdle to jump.
It will also be interesting to see which Heat star takes control in key moments. Mario Chalmers served as the closer in Game 4, but don't be surprised if James or Wade fills that role this time around. It's a proving ground for both guys.
Thunder's Effort Level
After losing Game 4, the Thunder can go one of two directions tonight. They can either step up and compete, playing without the burden of pressure since they have nothing to lose. Or they will be resigned to their fate and just go through the motions.
It won't take long to see which path Oklahoma City decides to take. The Thunder should be motivated by the fact they get to return home with a victory. Beating Miami three times in a row will be tough, but far from impossible.
After all, the Thunder beat the San Antonio Spurs four straight times just when it looked like the Spurs were on their way to the Finals. Oklahoma City still has a chance—albeit a small one—to win this series. Tonight we'll find out if the Thunder still believe it's possible.
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