Game 5 of the 2013 NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs tips off on Sunday night and will be the last game of the series played in Texas, as things will shift back to South Beach for Game 6 and possibly 7.
With this best-of-seven series now set to be decided by the team that is resilient enough to win two of the next three, winning Sunday night’s contest is absolutely critical.
The team that emerges victorious will have a huge leg up on the opposition and be in prime position to capture the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.
Let’s take a look at what each team must do to ensure victory in Game 5.
Biggest Key for Heat: Keep Dwyane Wade Hot
Dwyane Wade came alive in Game 4, putting up a rare 32-point, six-assist, six-steal outing that will go down in the annals of Finals history, per ESPN Stats and Info.
Wade has clearly been struggling throughout the postseason, averaging just 14.2 points on 44.4 percent shooting, a major step down from his career playoff totals (23.7 points on 47.6 shooting) and 2012-13 season average (21.2 points on 52.1 percent shooting).
However, with his back to the wall, Wade turned back the clock for a vintage performance. He shook off the rust and played through the pain in order to will the Heat to victory.
LeBron on Wade: "He was ’06 Flash tonight. And we needed every bit of it."— Howard Beck (@HowardBeckNYT) June 14, 2013
Battier on Wade: "That wasn't WOW or whatever they're calling him now. That was 2006 Wade. Flash was in the house tonight!"— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) June 14, 2013
It turns out they were quite accurate in their assessments, as you can see in this chart I created below:
If he can stay at this level, history shows that the Heat are in good shape. After losing the first two games of the 2006 finals, D-Wade turned things up a notch and went on to lead his squad to four straight victories over the Dallas Mavericks.
Now that he’s dialed in and looking better than he has in months, Wade is going to be tough to stop and his teammates should continue to feed his hot hand.
Biggest Key for Spurs: Limit Turnovers and Force Miami to Commit Them
Much like in Game 2, the Spurs were their own worst enemy in Game 4 and weren’t able to establish a rhythm on offense.
San Antonio was able to carve out a tough win in the opening game and dominate the third of this series with quick-witted passes, efficient threes from the corner and a general cadence to the offense that made it impossible for the Heat defenders to close out on shooters and stick with their man.
However, with Miami scoring 23 points off 18 turnovers, the Spurs had absolutely no chance to win on Thursday evening.
The guards couldn’t connect on their entry passes and the bigs seemed to panic and throw it away or get baited by sneaky defenders playing the inside-out passing lanes.
Couple that with the nine turnovers generated by the Spurs and it’s no surprise that they lost by 16 points in a 109-93 blowout.
Everyone is going to have to do a better job of taking care of the rock and executing on offense, while working to tip passes and force mistakes on defense.
Should they fail, the Spurs are doomed.