NBA Finals Game 5 Preview

The Heat and Spurs will look to score a win in Game 5, taking an all-important 3-2 series lead to South Florida.

The Heat and Spurs will look to score a win in Game 5, taking an all-important 3-2 series lead to South Florida.

Knotted-up at two games apiece, the NBA Finals continue on Sunday night as the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs look to gain the advantage before heading back to South Florida on Tuesday.

Another late charge proved the difference in Game 4 as the Heat outscored the Spurs 28-17 in the fourth quarter to establish a 109-93 victory. That makes three games in a row the winning side has piled the points on late to take the victory.

Sunday’s pivotal Game 5 could go a long way to deciding the 2013 NBA Champions. Both sides have room for improvement, not to mention a very real chance of winning the game (and series).

Keys to Victory: San Antonio

San Antonio is 3-0 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. The Spurs will look to retain this perfect record on Sunday night.

In order to do so the team will need to address its issues looking after the ball. After Game 1’s four-turnover performance, the Spurs have averaged 15.3 turnovers across three games. 12 (of 46) of these turnovers have come from the tandem of Manu Ginobli and Corey Joseph as they spell Tony Parker at point guard. Parker himself is responsible for 10 turnovers, although he touches the ball a heck of a lot more.

When Parker leaves the floor, the Spurs look susceptible. Ginobli – having a poor Finals series, and reportedly considering retirement – is making poor decisions when it comes to passing, while the inexperienced Joseph often forgets his role is to take the ball up the court. The image of Boris Diaw dribbling up court in Game 4 wasn’t the prettiest of sights.

Parker is reported to have said that his injured hamstring could tear at any time, which is bad news for the Spurs, and really bad news if one of his backups doesn’t start taking care of the ball.

Next on the list of adjustments is an improvement in defensive intensity. It was only a matter of time before LeBron James began scoring big numbers – he dropped a series high 33 in Game 4 – so the Spurs, and in particular Kawhi Leonard who has done a sterling job defending this series, shouldn’t be downhearted. They should be downhearted about allowing Dwyane Wade to score 32 and Chris Bosh 20 as well.

Tightening up on the defensive end will go a long way to securing a victory in Game 5.

At the offensive end, the Spurs need Tim Duncan to have another 20-point game (at least) and get back to the 14 rebounds he was averaging through the first three games; he tallied just five boards in Game 4. Posting-up in the low block will relieve the pressure on Tiago Splitter, who has been forced into some poor shots this series, while providing the Heat with a defensive nightmare. The more productive Duncan is down low, the more wide open shots Danny Green and Gary Neal will see from the outside.

Manu Ginobli's play - particularly his passing - has hurt the Spurs this series.

Manu Ginobli’s play – particularly his passing – has hurt the Spurs this series.

Keys to Victory: Miami

Some believe this is an absolute must win game for the Heat, despite the team heading home for potentially two at American Airlines Arena.

Miami is 0-5 after winning the previous game, dating back to the Eastern Conference finals. The side hasn’t won two straight since beating the Chicago Bulls in the semifinals, more than a month ago. If the team can’t buck that trend, they won’t be going home with an NBA Championship this year.

However, the Heat has recorded a 2-1 record in Game 5 of the NBA finals, with both wins coming on the road. Erik Spoelstra’s side will look to emulate Thursday’s Game 4 performance to improve that record to 3-1.

In terms of winning the game, if the Heat gets another outing from the ‘Big Three’ like it did in Game 4, the team should be looking at a 3-2 series lead. Ray Allen added 14 points to the combined 85 points tallied by James, Wade, and Bosh, the only noteworthy offering from a bench player. If anybody else wants to step up in Game 5 – as Mario Chalmers did in Game 2 and Mike Miller did in Game 3 – the Heat would be greatly appreciative.

But will anybody else step up? And will James, Wade, and Bosh have another unrelenting outing? Those two questions could be at the very heart of whether Miami repeats this year.

Miami’s move to a smaller lineup as the series has progressed – as noted by Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News – has worked well and will likely continue for the rest of the series.

The officials are sure to have a keen eye on the game after a poor performance in Game 4. That crew called ticky-tacky fouls while missing some big calls, and managed to miss two or three definite flops. On review, the NBA front office has fined Bosh for the worst of these, one in which he looked like he’d been floored by a prize fighter. Bosh and Co. will need to avoid gaining the referee’s ire on Sunday night.

It's been said all season long that Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh need to come through big time if Miami is to repeat as champions. Game 4 proved why.

It’s been said all season long that Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh need to come through big time if Miami is to repeat as champions. Game 4 proved why.

Game 5 Betting Lines

Miami Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs odds for 6/16/13 (Game 5) are available now.

Moneyline – Miami (-115) opened as a slight favorite over San Antonio (-105), but most sportsbooks have seen Miami move further out in front. At the time of publication, TopBet has the Heat at -125 and the Spurs at +105, the largest differential on the board.

Spread – For the first time this series, the spread opened even. Subsequently, Miami (11-9-0 ATS) has been installed by most as a 1 1/2-point favorite over San Antonio (12-6-0 ATS).

San Antonio is 5-4-0 ATS at the AT&T Center this postseason, while Miami is 6-3-0 ATS on the road. Miami is 11-8-0 ATS as the favorite; San Antonio is 4-2-0 ATS as the underdog, but just 1-2-0 ATS this series when not favored.

The two sides have alternated covering the spread this series, with the Spurs taking Games 1 and 3 and the Heat covering in Games 2 and 4.

Over/Under – The total opened at 187 1/2 but has increased to 188 with most bookmakers. Miami (9-10-1) has marginally favored the under this postseason, while San Antonio (9-9-0) has split the over/under evenly.

The series has seen the total go over twice and under twice. Games 3 and 4 both went over.

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