San Antonio Spurs @ Miami HeatAmerican Airlines Arena, Miami, FL
June 18, 2013, 8:00 PM Spurs Time
TV: ABC - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI
Fellow Pounders, this is the moment we've all been waiting for. The San Antonio Spurs are on the cusp of winning their 5th NBA Championship, needing only one more victory to put them over the top. It won't be easy though, as the Miami Heat will certainly fight back on their home floor.
The story from Game 5 was Manu Ginobili's vintage performance, as he dazzled his way to 24 points and 10 assists. He looked like his old self in his first start of the season, hitting threes and attacking the basket with ease. But will we see the same again in Game 6? While Ginobili hasn't had back-to-back notable performances this postseason, you can expect to see him in the starting lineup after the results that move brought in Game 5. Whether that means an end to his rhythm issues or if he'll have trouble producing at that level consistently remains to be seen. One thing's for sure, Spurs fans will think twice before counting out the left-handed Argentine again.
One thing observers have come to depend on though, is quiet excellence from the same Danny Green whose performance in the Finals couldn't be more night-and-day when compared to his play in last year's playoffs. The guard who saw his playing time dwindle in the 2012 Western Conference Finals to the point of even losing his spot as a starter against the Thunder, has become the human embodiment of the hot-hand theory. He has torched the Heat for an NBA Finals record 25 total three pointers made (although past performance does not necessarily guarantee future success) and the Heat have found found it difficult to stick with him. It's difficult to see how they'll be able to slow him down without making a big adjustment to the way they trap the Spurs' pick and roll, which has been the main issue San Antonio's offense has struggled with turnovers.
While Green's defense hasn't been celebrated as much as his touch from outside, it's been just as important. In transition, Green has been the perfect antidote to those turnover woes. Time and time again, he's taken on the fast-breaking LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, and disrupted their usually automatic transition attack. His non-committal defense has made lobs difficult, while his court awareness has positioned him to frustrate them time and again.
One of the more interesting storylines for the Heat going into Game 6 is how LeBron's jumper will treat him. In this series the Spurs have laid back defensively and forced him to shoot, and it's paid off as James has been largely inconsistent when taking shots outside of the paint in Miami's losses where he has shot 6/29 (.20.7%) versus 13/21 (61.9%) in the Heat's wins. If his jumper starts falling again, the Heat will be able to make it difficult on San Antonio in Game 6. If not, then just how aggressive James decides to be will be a huge indicator of Miami's success.
If Game 6 holds true to the series pattern, the Heat will find a way to adjust from their mistakes in Game 5, and dominate in their return home to force a Game 7. At this point in this series, nothing would shock me, but I have a gut feeling (take this for whatever you think it's worth) that that won't be the case in Game 6. I think Miami will definitely find areas to adjust and improve, because Erik Spoelstra is a talented coach, and as a unit they respond so well after tough losses. However, I expect Gregg Popovich to have his guys ready for a potential championship-clinching game. Over the years, the Spurs have shown a wonderful ability to close out strongly in both close games and close series. Even though the Heat are a juggernaut, and have the best player on the planet, I think that ability to close out will shine through tonight.
Heat perspective can be found here: Hot Hot Hoops
Game Prediction: Spurs by 4.
As always Tony must dominate Fisher, and NBA league pass is recommended for those who are willing to pony up the cash. Almost every Spurs game will be broadcast there, which is especially helpful for those of us who aren't in the San Antonio area. Please don't post links to illegal game feeds in the game thread. Links to illegal feeds are not permitted on SBNation, but you can probably find them out there on the internets if you're resourceful and desperate.
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