NBA Finals 2013: X-Factors Who Will Help Decide Game 3
While the superstars have controlled most of the headlines after two games with broken-play, buzzer-beating brilliance and Tiago-Splitter-career-ending blocks, the role players have unsurprisingly made major impacts for the deep-rostered Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs.
Whether it has been Kawhi Leonard D'ing up the game's best player and pulling down offensive rebound after offensive rebound, or Chris Anderson making rim-runs and generally being awesome, the little guys have come up gargantuan.
Let's take a look at what non-stars will continue that trend and serve crucial roles in Game 3.
Note: All stats courtesy of NBA.com unless noted otherwise
Mike Miller, Miami Heat
Remember last year when Mike Miller seemingly rose from the ashes and helped set the Oklahoma City Thunder packing with a 23-point performance in Game 5 of the finals?
He wasn't quite on that level Sunday, but his nine points on three-of-three shooting from beyond the arc helped the Heat go plus-22 during his 16 minutes of action.
James summed it up postgame with six simple words, courtesy of The Palm Beach Post's Ethan J. Skolnick:
LeBron on Mike Miller: "We want him on the floor." They have wanted him on the floor all season.— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) June 10, 2013
Miller isn't going to give more than 20 minutes a night, but his shooting stretches the defense, and his defensive rotations have been surprisingly solid.
Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs
Many would probably group Ginobili in with the stars—and I would tend to agree—but at this point, I think it's safe to call him an X-factor.
Especially after Sunday's performance, which further proved his inconsistency.
Not only did the 35-year-old score just five points on two-of-six shooting in 18 minutes, but he looked like you feel in those dreams you have when your arms and legs aren't working right, as he stumbled around barely able to keep his feet or hold onto the ball.
It was bad:
Manu Ginobili looks like a guy who, if there was reason to believe, could be accused of point-shaving. So unnecessarily sloppy.— Alan Hahn (@alanhahn) June 10, 2013
Still, this is the guy who averaged 12.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.7 steals against the Golden State Warriors. This is the guy who had 19, 7 and 5 in Game 3 against the Memphis Grizzlies.
This is the guy who can still be one of the most unique, crafty, impossible-to-stop playmakers in the league.
If the Spurs can get that guy to come off the bench and give them another ball-handler next to Tony Parker, it will be colossal.
Chris Andersen, Miami Heat
The man, the myth, the legend—Chris Andersen:
LeBron James is 2-12 from the field tonight. That is as many misses as Chris Andersen (44-54) has the ENTIRE POSTSEASON.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 10, 2013
Miami doesn't ask a lot of Birdman. All he needs to do to help this team is rebound, be physical with Duncan and Splitter on defense and finish around the hoop.
Which of these bench players will have the biggest effect on Game 3?
Through two games, he has done that to perfection.
In 27 minutes, Andersen has 16 points on six-of-eight shooting to go with seven rebounds, a steal and a block.
And it's not an aberration, either. In 17 games this postseason, he is averaging 7.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and has an average plus/minus of plus-6.4, which is third-best on the team.
When Andersen is able to provide this type of efficient production and post presence off the bench, the Heat are given a new dimension, making them even more dangerous.
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