Morning Shootaround: NBA Finals Game 5
I’ve been thinking about this game so much it’s been driving me a little batty.
I’ve been on vacation for the last week, and I fly home Sunday just in time to watch the game tip in the confines of my own living room. In a way, it’s been nice to have the the last two days off from the NBA to spend time with my family and get my happy good-byes in before I return to the war.
Game 5 really is a must-win for the Spurs. Heading back to Miami needing to win both Games 6 and 7 is a near-impossible task. We need Game 5. Simple as that.
My theory of playoff basketball is that most tweaking is done by Game 3, and the last half of the series is just which team can dictate the terms of the fight, and which team is better. This series has been a bit odd in its schizophrenic nature, with 3 of the 4 games being more or less controlled by one of the two teams. Also, Miami made a key line-up switch in Game 4 that San Antonio will have to adjust to.
So the question remains: to go small or remain big? San Antonio is quite comfortable in any line-up configuration, but strongly prefer to start big. By starting Mike Miller in Game 4, Miami took that away from us. I’m particularly baffled that we started Splitter on Wade and not on Miller, but I suppose Splitter is of little use to us defensively wandering the perimeter, even if Miller is too banged up to really punish us with a bigger big on him.
If we go small, that probably means starting Neal in place of Splitter, which could make the defensive cross matches work. But another option to consider would be starting Diaw, who is a nice bridge between “Big” and “Small”. Despite his size, he has quick enough feet to really guard Miller and stay within the defensive rotations, and on the offensive end, can play inside to give Miller problems. I also really like Diaw on the floor for his floor spacing and ability to put the ball on the floor, play with his back to the basket, and make plays off the pass. He can get a bit reckless, but he can also tear a defense apart. With Miami’s overly aggressive defense, his playmaking may be just the counter punch we need.
Beyond that, I don’t see too many huge changes. Our overriding defensive game plan was to make both Wade and LeBron jump shooters. In Game 4, they hit a lot of those shots. To start Game 5, I expect us to challenge them to do it two games in a row. What really killed us in Game 4 was their quick transitions from D to O, and their hurried pace and decision-making on offense. Again, a lot of that comes down to focus and attention. And as is the theme in this series, the team that lost the prior game usually comes out in the next game with plenty of each.
As fans, we can ask for nothing more than our team having a chance at the Championship. Sitting two wins away with only 2 or 3 games left in the season, we’re in a great position.
5 for 21.
Go Spurs Go.
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