If only it was so easy for San Antonio. The elementary analysis of the 2013 NBA Finals says the Spurs are due for a victory in Sunday night’s Game 5. Through the first four games they’ve gone back and forth with Miami, winning then losing to give us a 2-2 deadlock.
But the Game 4 setback opens up a whole new round of issues, with the least troublesome being losing homecourt advantage for the first time in the series. Miami had its way Thursday night, led by a Big Three that finally played like one.
The Spurs are still waiting for their Three Amigos to fully join the party. Sure, watching Danny Green and Gary Neal bombard the Heat with 3-pointers is great entertainment and makes for a great round of copy, but it can’t be sustained.
Expecting Green and Neal to keep outplaying LeBron James and Dwyane Wade is simply foolish. San Antonio’s support pieces are just that: support. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili collectively need to carry the bulk of the luggage if this Finals trip is going to end on a celebratory stage.
So far, it’s a mixed bag at best. Duncan scored 20 in Game 4, but grabbed just five rebounds as the Spurs were beat up on the glass. Parker, nursing a sore hamstring, was a non-factor in the second half Thursday night, as the Heat doubled him and took the ball out of his hands.
Ginobili has to be the biggest concern. Manu scored just five in the 109-93 loss on 1 of 5 shooting. The Spurs were a minus-22 with Ginobili on the floor, easily the worst ratio of anyone in a San Antonio uniform. He’s scored just 17 points in the last three games.
“He’s just trying to be incredibly unselfish right now,” Duncan said. “I think he’s trying to make the right play at the right time. He’s trying to make the right pass, make the defense move instead of looking more for his own. So I think he’s just trying to make the right play more than anything.
“We need him to be a little more aggressive, be a little more selfish, maybe and hopefully we can find him a way to get him to do that.”
Right now, he’s an unselfish liability.
“We definitely need Manu,” Parker said. “I think we need to help him to try to get his confidence going, but I have a lot of confidence in Manu. I’m sure he’s going to break out of that slump. I’ve been playing with him for a long time. I just know he’s going to have a big game soon.”
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is simply at a loss when it comes to Ginobili.
“I don’t know,” Popovich said. “If I knew that I would have already fixed it.”
It’s not just Manu. He had just one of the Spurs’ 19 turnovers in Game 4, leading to 23 points for the Heat. Miami was able to get in transition, move the ball and attack. LeBron, Wade and Chris Bosh combined for 85 points, nearly matching San Antonio by themselves.
“They turned up their intensity, as we knew they would,” Duncan said. “And they got a lot of hands on balls, and they turned them into open plays for them, which is what we kind of talked about, trying to keep them out of that open court where they’re most effective.”
San Antonio didn’t grab its first offensive rebound until the second half. The Spurs tried to match Miami and go small with Boris Diaw, but little worked as the silver and black faded down the stretch.
Duncan reminded everyone that it’s just one loss, and the Spurs will make the necessary adjustments, whatever those are, for Game 5. San Antonio is going back to Miami in this series, either to win one game or two depending on Sunday.
In a series of alternating wins and three straight blowouts, you can probably throw out the script.
“We’re all trying to get to four games,” Duncan said. “Every game is a must win.”