2013 NBA Finals: Bench Players Who Will Be Counted on in Pivotal Game 5

Daniel WilliamsContributor IIIJune 15, 2013

SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 13:  Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs goes up for a shot against the Miami Heat in the second half during Game Four of the 2013 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 13, 2013 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Derick E. Hingle/Pool/Getty Images)
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The Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs have their “Big Three,” but it’s the unsung heroes from the bench that make the difference.

So far in the NBA Finals, we have seen some outstanding performances from bench players and more of the same is expected heading into a pivotal Game 5 in San Antonio.

Here are a few key pieces that we’ll see coming off the bench.

The Spurs saw an outburst from Gary Neal in Game 3, netting 24 points in 25 minutes of play off the bench. He was San Antonio’s second-highest scorer in the team's 36-point win at home. He also provided four rebounds—all defensive—and was 6-for-10 from three-point range.

Manu Ginobili is the key to igniting San Antonio’s bench. So far in this postseason, he’s averaging 10.3 points per game in 25.4 minutes of play.

Having not started a single contest this season (60 regular-season games, 18 playoff games), he will be counted upon to be the catalyst for the Spurs’ secondary scoring going forward.

The Miami Heat were slowed down considerably in Game 3, with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh totaling 44 of their 77 points. The other 34 points came from the bench.

In that game, Mike Miller came off the bench and scored 15 points—same as James in 17 fewer minutes. He earned himself a starting spot in Game 4, but was held scoreless. He’ll be expected to return to his bench role where he can provide a jump-start with his ability to hit the three.

Norris Cole is averaging 20.6 minutes and 6.5 points per game off the bench this postseason. He’s a smart, young talent shooting .548 from three-point range. His influence comes directly from spelling Mario Chalmers and he can efficiently run the offense in a similar style.

This series has tilted back and forth every game and shows few signs of evening out. The stars can carry a team over the course of a season, but the teams that win championships have those unsung heroes off the bench.

The players that warm the bench are those who can heat up the floor and fuel a team to victory.