The 2013 NBA Finals will resume on Sunday, June 16, as the San Antonio Spurs host the Miami Heat in Game 5 of their championship clash. With the series tied at 2-2, both teams will display a sense of urgency and turn to their stars to earn the victory.
The question is, which unsung heroes will take control of Game 5 and lead their team to a momentous win?
There's no shortage of superstar performers in this series, as each team boasts its own Big Three. With that being said, neither team has received the quality of play from its performers as one might expect.
While each has thrived in individual games, no one has put it all together thus far.
Believe it or not, the one consistent truth about this series has been the way each team's role players have performed. Players have stepped up left and right to help their team to victory.
So who will those players be in Game 5?
Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
Kawhi Leonard has been nothing short of extraordinary on the defensive side of the ball during the NBA Finals. Not only is he crashing the boards at an elite level, but Leonard is coming up with steals in an effortless manner and he shut LeBron James down for three games.
What more could we possibly ask of him?
Thus far, Leonard is averaging 11.3 points, 10.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game during the NBA Finals. During the first three games of the series, Leonard played a key role in holding LeBron to 38.8 percent shooting from the field.
Even as James broke through in Game 4, Leonard's merit was proven.
In Game 5, the Spurs need the defense to continue and the offense to find itself. After all, Leonard is averaging 11.3 points on a slash line of .439/.333/.714.
It's time he has his breakout performance offensively.
Expect the former San Diego State Aztecs star to come out firing, helping a hobbled Tony Parker by making key shots from beyond the arc. When putting it on the ground, Leonard will enter the paint and attack Miami's weak interior.
Leonard has the length and athleticism that San Antonio needs off the bounce—expect him to provide that pop in Game 5.
Norris Cole, Miami Heat
I correctly predicted Mario Chalmers taking over Game 2 and leading Miami to victory. In Game 5, I'm going with the other Miami Heat point guard.
Cleveland State alum and Miami motor player Norris Cole will be a difference-maker for Erik Spoelstra's squad.
Cole continues to play strong defense, but his offensive output has been shaky at best. In 19.0 minutes of action, Cole is averaging 3.8 points and 3.0 assists on a slash line of .286/.400/.500.
Expect this to be his rebound game.
Cole is a dangerous three-point shooter who can catch fire and make an impact at any moment. For evidence, note that he scored 18 points in consecutive games during the 2013 Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Against an inured Tony Parker, Cole will smell blood in the water.
Cole will step up as a scorer, helping to aid the Heat as they continue to wonder if their superstars will show up in consecutive games. Fortunately for Miami, the Spurs' three-point onslaught will be countered by Cole's sharpshooting.
Keep in mind, Cole has never been shy about stepping up in the fourth quarter.
Danny Green, San Antonio Spurs
Danny Green leads all players with 47 three-point field goals made during the 2013 NBA playoffs. He's doing so while shooting 50.5 percent from beyond the arc, which displays just how lethal the former UNC star is from distance.
If that's not enough for you, try the fact that Green has 19 three-point field goals made on 67.9 percent shooting from distance during the NBA Finals.
On top of being one of the best three-point shooters in the NBA—numbers, not opinion—Green is also a dominant on-ball defender. He locked down Stephen Curry in the Western Conference Semifinals and has experienced success against Dwyane Wade, sans Game 4.
Look for Green to step up in Game 5 and prove that his Game 3 mastery was no fluke.
In Game 3, Green tallied 27 points on 9-of-15 shooting from the field and 7-of-9 from three-point range. To expect Green to score with such efficiency would be naive and unrealistic, but Green is capable of making multiple three's and picking up a few two-point field goals in the process.
Green has made at least three three-point field goals in every game of the NBA Finals—expect that trend to continue and for the former Tar Heel to reward San Antonio for its trust.