Through four games the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat are tied at two games apiece, and the winner of Game 5 will take a firm grip on the NBA Finals.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, the winner of Game 5 in a series knotted up at two games has won seven of 10 NBA Finals since the league adopted the 2-3-2 format:
We've seen how difficult it is to win two games in a row, and trends are meant to be broken, but there's clearly an easier path to victory for teams going up three games to two.
Both teams have suffered blowout losses in this series. It's been a see-saw battle thus far and chances are it'll continue to play out in the same fashion.
Here's what both teams need to accomplish in order to take control of the NBA Finals.
Heat Must Shut Down Danny Green and Spurs' 3-Point Barrage
When San Antonio has really gotten going on the offensive end and forced blowouts, it's been Green, Neal and the team's three-point barrage that has blown the game wide open.
Green, in particular, has been unstoppable from the perimeter. In four games, he's made 19 of 28 attempts from beyond the arc, and according to the NBA D-League, he's only three shy of Ray Allen's all-time NBA Finals record:
Tony Parker is the catalyst for San Antonio's offense and the player who sets up many of these three-point attempts. He's adept at penetrating the paint and drawing multiple defenders to him, as he can score at will.
Miami doesn't want to give up easy buckets inside, but at the same time it can't continue allowing Green and his compatriots to continue shooting from outside without challenging the shots.
Somehow, some way, the Heat must find a solution to this conundrum.
Spurs Must Keep Dwyane Wade Out of the Paint
Wade turned back the clock in Game 4, scoring 32 points, hauling in six rebounds, dishing out four assists and picking pockets to the tune of six steals.
It was the first game in this series in which he actually stayed hot in the second half. He was simply unstoppable.
Everything Wade was able to do stemmed from his conscious effort to make plays inside—both on offense and on defense. As The NBA on ESPN noted, Wade got to the paint with regularity:
Given the size advantage James has, it logically makes sense that he'd be more effective down low, but Wade's size/strength advantage over Manu Ginobili and the other Spurs guards has proven to be more dangerous.
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