The 2013 NBA Finals are in full force, as the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs are tied in a deadlock at 2-2. The stars have taken turns while making their marks, thus resulting in our evenly matched series.
The question is, which of the role players will decide Game 5 and give their team one final edge before the finals head back to Miami?
Come the NBA Finals, head coaches often run thin lineups, maximizing their starters' playing time and limiting their role players. With that being said, certain players rise out of the depths of obscurity and show us why the NBA Finals make for the most unpredictable time of the year.
A time when the nameless become legends.
Danny Green, San Antonio Spurs
Reputations are earned and awards are received with some form of reason. On the rare occasion, however, all of that is thrown by the wayside and we're left wondering just how one player has gone from a nobody to the biggest someone of all.
During the 2013 NBA Finals, that player has been San Antonio Spurs shooting guard Danny Green.
Green has been nothing short of extraordinary, playing elite defense throughout the postseason and shooting the three-ball better than anyone else. After absolutely decimating Stephen Curry with his on-ball defense in the Western Conference Semifinals, Green has decided to take his turn as a scorer.
During the NBA Finals, Green is averaging 16.5 points on 67.9 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
In fact, Green leads all players with 47 three-point field goals during the 2013 NBA playoffs. Most impressively, the former North Carolina star is doing so while shooting 50.5 percent from beyond the arc.
As an efficiently elite three-point shooter and on-ball defender, Green's two-way impact has been felt—the Spurs will need every ounce of it in Game 5.
Dwyane Wade finally broke through against Green in Game 4, going off for 32 points and leading Miami to victory. If the Spurs are to stand any chance of achieving victory in Game 5, Green will need to step up on defense.
The fact that no one has matched him as a three-point shooter is just an added bonus.
Mike Miller, Miami Heat
The Miami Heat have been uncharacteristically inconsistent throughout the course of the 2013 NBA Finals. If there's one thing that Miami can count on, however, it's the three-point shooting of Mike Miller.
Thus far, Miller is shooting 81.8 percent from beyond the arc.
During the heat's bounce-back victory in Game 3, Miller made three key three-pointers on three attempts. During the Heat's dud of a performance in Game 4, Miller was 5-of-5 from beyond the arc.
In Game 5, Miller will be needed more than ever before.
The Heat have been unstoppable coming off of a loss, but they've also struggled to piece together wins. In fact, the Heat haven't won consecutive games since Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
That back-and-forth nature suggests they're on pace to lose Game 5.
If Miller is able to shoulder the shooting load in the second half, the Heat will be able to match San Antonio's plethora of shooters. If he's unable to shoot as expected, however, the Heat will falter and lose to the Spurs.
Keep in mind, this is the same player that scored 23 points on seven three-point field goals during Miami's 121-106 championship-clinching victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012.
Gary Neal, San Antonio Spurs
In Game 3, Gary Neal had a career night, scoring 24 points in 25 minutes and draining six huge three-point field goals. In Game 4, Neal went for 13 points on 3-of-4 shooting from beyond the arc and offered the Spurs signs of life.
San Antonio will need Neal to complete the trinity if they're to go up 3-2.
Neal has been the game-changer for the Spurs, coming off of the bench to provide instant offense. Not only is he a lethal three-point shooter with limitless range, but he's creative off of the bounce.
That's exactly why he's averaging 13.5 points per game on a slash line of .475 FG/.545 3PT/1.000 FT.
If the Spurs stand any chance of taking the lead before the series heads back to Miami, they'll need Neal to be at his finest. While that may be a lot to ask of a role player, this isn't an 82-game regular season.
This is a seven-game date with destiny.
Neal can shoot and, between him and Danny Green, the Spurs can put forth a concerted team effort. Keep in mind, we were tied at the half of Game 4 before Dwyane Wade took over and San Antonio's stars disappeared.
San Antonio better hope Neal has another career performance hidden in him—if he doesn't, it will be a long trip to Miami.
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