Game 5 of the 2014 NBA Finals is crucial for both teams. The Miami Heat can begin their seemingly insurmountable comeback with a win while the San Antonio Spurs would hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy with just one more victory in this series.
Down 3-1, the Heat have not looked like the same team that dismantled the then-Charlotte Bobcats, handled the Brooklyn Nets and overcame the Indiana Pacers. It appears as if the rigorous playoff schedule has gotten to Dwyane Wade, who was just 3-of-13 from the floor in Game 4.
The Spurs, on the other hand, are firing on all cylinders. The entire roster is playing extraordinarily well, and it looks like they'll be tough to beat three straight times.
Game 5 is a must-win for the Heat and a must-watch for the fans. Below is all the information you'll need to both watch and understand everything that's going on.
Schedule and TV Info
|Sunday, June 15||Game 5: Heat at Spurs||8 p.m.||ABC|
Kawhi Leonard vs. LeBron James
Kawhi Leonard has been the thorn in LeBron James' side during this series. Not only is Leonard finding his groove offensively, but he has hindered James' offensive game as well.
The point totals are still there for James. He has scored at least 22 points in each of the four games in the Finals, shooting at least 53 percent in each game. While shooting efficiently, James isn't shooting a whole lot. That's because of Leonard.
John McTigue of ESPN.com broke down the percentages after Game 3 on Tuesday:
Only 17 percent of LeBron's touches against Leonard in the Finals have resulted in a field goal attempt. That's half the rate James has against all other defenders. That means Leonard has been successful forcing him to pass the ball or turn it over.
This lack of attempts likely has something to do with Leonard's ability to keep James from driving to the basket. McTigue broke that down as well:
James has driven to the basket on 13 percent of his touches against Leonard. That rate jumps to 22 percent against all other defenders. Leonard has been able to keep James in front of him and force tough angles to keep him away from the basket.
So what does this all mean?
For one, it means that the Spurs have found their answer to James. While the world's best player is still going to find ways to score, limiting his field-goal chances will inherently limit his opportunities to drain shots. That keeps James in the 20s in points rather than in the 30s.
In Game 5, expect Leonard to be all over James yet again. It's a formula that is working, and head coach Gregg Popovich surely knows it.
Those in attendance for Game 3 witnessed the Spurs make history in terms of efficiency. Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press highlighted the record, via the Huffington Post:
...the Spurs made a finals-record 75.8 percent of their shots in the first half in a 111-92 victory over the Miami Heat on Tuesday night that gave them a 2-1 lead.
The Spurs made 19 of their first 21 shots and finished 25 of 33 in the first half, bettering the 75 percent shooting by Orlando against the Lakers in the 2009 finals.
It wasn't just that half that was extraordinary, however. The Spurs' fourth-quarter output in Game 1 of the series was also uncanny:
The Spurs were incredible in the 4th quarter last night. They went 14-16, including 6-6 from 3 pic.twitter.com/tFbZJ02H9A— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 6, 2014
Overall this postseason, the Spurs have shot 49.2 percent from the floor. The efficiency of this team is what's making it so tough for the Heat to keep up.
It's also a very balanced attack. Leonard has shouldered the load for a few games, but contributions are made on a nightly basis by the likes of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Boris Diaw, Danny Green, Manu Ginobili and even Patty Mills.
Popovich has his entire team ready to play once the players get into games, and it's leading to confident shooting performances. This efficiency is why the Spurs will lock up this series.