The Miami Heat find themselves in a precarious position down 3-1 to the San Antonio Spurs in the 2014 NBA Finals. As good as the Spurs have looked, though, the Heat are far from finished.
Miami boasts the best player in the world in LeBron James, so the Spurs and their fans can't afford to take the title for granted quite yet. If the Heat are going to pull off one of the great comebacks in the history of the NBA Finals, though, it starts with a strong performance in Game 5.
Basketball fans will surely tune in to see if the Spurs can keep up their torrid pace or if the Heat will put a stop to it. Here is everything you need to know about when and where to watch Game 5 of the NBA Finals as well as the rest of the series if necessary.
NBA Finals Schedule
|5||Miami Heat||San Antonio Spurs||Sun., June 15||8 p.m.||ABC|
|6 (if necessary)||San Antonio Spurs||Miami Heat||Tue., June 17||9 p.m.||ABC|
|7 (if necessary)||Miami Heat||San Antonio Spurs||Fri., June 20||9 p.m.||ABC|
Players to Watch in Game 5
Although LeBron is clearly Miami's best player, Dwyane Wade has long been the heart and soul of the Heat. D-Wade led the Heat to a title well before James ever came along, and he has always managed to raise his level of play in the Finals. Wade started off well enough in these NBA Finals, but he has dropped off in a major way over the past few games.
According to ESPN's John Buccigross following a weak showing in Game 4, Wade is in the midst of the worst NBA Finals of his career:
Dwyane Wade: 10 points (3-13 FG); 16.3 PPG in 2014 Finals, lowest average in 5 career Finals appearances— John Buccigross (@Buccigross) June 13, 2014
Somewhat of a drop-off was to be expected, as Wade is 32 years old and has dealt with myriad injuries over the past few seasons, but he simply hasn't been a reliable complementary piece alongside LeBron. Wade doesn't have to be the same guy who dropped 40 points without breaking a sweat in the 2006 Finals against the Dallas Mavericks, but he does have to be better than mediocre.
Despite his struggles in the 2014 NBA Finals thus far, Wade is confident that his team will show up and perform in Game 5, per the Heat's official Twitter account:
Wade: “We expect to go into San Antonio and put up a better effort and try and get away with a win.”— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) June 13, 2014
It is blatantly obvious that James will be ready to roll, but Miami can't succeed as a one-man team. The Heat are supposed to have a "Big Three," and Wade needs to start playing like he is part of it. If he doesn't, then it may end up being a short Finals for Miami.
Decorated veterans like Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili receive much of the credit for the Spurs' success, but Danny Green has played a major role in the NBA Finals thus far. Green was superb in last year's Finals as well, so he has a knack for performing on the big stage.
Green's per-game average of 11.5 points in the NBA Finals this year doesn't necessarily jump off the page, but he has been a three-point marksman with an ability to hit shots from downtown in big moments. Green is shooting nearly 53 percent from long range in the Finals, which has been key to San Antonio's success.
In fact, Green's three-point shooting has been a major driving force behind many of the Spurs victories all season long, according to ESPN Stats & Info:
Spurs are 26-1 this season when Danny Green makes 3+ 3-pointers and 18-0 when he makes 4+. He has 3 tonight— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 13, 2014
Duncan and Parker in particular are going to get their points and play consistently on a game-by-game basis. The true challenge for the Heat is to slow down the supporting cast of Green, Kawhi Leonard, Boris Diaw and others. If Green gets open looks from deep and drains them in Game 5 like he has in the previous Finals games, it will give the Spurs a great chance to clinch the championship on their home court.
In addition to LeBron and D-Wade, the Heat need Chris Bosh to be a major factor in Game 5 as well. Bosh started off these Finals with a pair of 18-point performances and seemed to be in fine form, but he has since scored just 21 points total and hasn't appeared nearly as confident.
Which team will win Game 5 of the NBA Finals?
After hitting three shots from long range in Game 1 and hitting a crucial one from deep in Game 2, Bosh decided to be less aggressive from beyond the arc for whatever reason. He has attempted just a pair of three-pointers over the past two games, which makes little sense considering how well he was going in that department.
Bosh is a player who simply needs to play to his strengths in order to help the Heat come back. As pointed out by Doug Gottlieb of CBS Sports, Bosh can be an asset, but he is an albatross in other areas for Miami:
Bosh is Bosh — never been a true superstar, excellent shooting big— can’t guard Duncan #ReasonstheHeatareFinished— Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow) June 13, 2014
The fact that Bosh struggles to guard Duncan isn't a surprise since that is the case with most players in the league. He may not be able to get the better of Duncan on the defensive end, but he can on the offensive end if he steps out and forces Duncan away from the paint.
The Heat will be in trouble in Game 5 if Bosh's average play continues, but they'll have a great chance if he can regain the form he displayed in Game 1 and Game 2.
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