Heat’s Big Three clicking as Spurs trio struggles

SAN ANTONIO — Chris Bosh is happy he doesn’t have to guard Chris Bosh.

Or LeBron James. Or Dwyane Wade.

“I wouldn’t want to play us,’’ Bosh said of the Miami Heat’s Big Three. “I’m glad I don’t have to play us.’’

When their trio of stars is on, the Heat are nearly unbeatable. That certainly was the case in Thursday’s Game 4 of the NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs.

James, Wade and Bosh combined for 85 points and 30 rebounds in a 109-93 win. It was easily their best combined outing this postseason.

So entering Sunday’s Game 5 at the AT&T Center, the thinking from the Spurs is simple. They’re just hoping the three don’t play like that again.

“You have to be close to perfect to beat them,’’ San Antonio guard Manu Ginobili said of when Miami’s Big Three is on like that. “If they’re having an OK game, we can make a few mistakes here and there and we can mask it. But when they’re playing like that, we just can’t make mistakes.’’

The good news for the Spurs is the trio hasn’t been playing like that regularly this postseason. James usually has been at the top of his game, although he did have his share of struggles in the first three games of the Finals.

Wade has been hampered by a painful bone bruise on his right knee. And Bosh has been up and down during the playoffs.

So one big question entering Sunday is: Can Miami’s Big Three keep it up?

“That Game (4) and stuff like that was the reason we came together,’’ Wade said of three joining forces in the summer of 2010. “It was good to see. … That’s what we envisioned. It’s not easy to do that every night, but hopefully with three games left, hopefully we can be more consistent.’’
If that consistency continues by the Big Three, the Spurs might want to forget about winning a fifth championship in 15 years. If not, they have a chance.

Of course, it would help if San Antonio’s Big Three can get untracked. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Ginobili all have had issues during these Finals.

Duncan has provided the least to concerned about, but in Game 2 he was held to just nine points, the only one of 26 career Finals game in which he hasn’t reached double figures. And the big man had only five rebounds in Game 4.

Parker wouldn’t provide much to worry about if he hadn’t suffered a hamstring strain in Game 3. The injury hampered him in Game 4 but the point guard hopes to be “close to 100 percent’’ Sunday. Then again, a comment he offered Saturday couldn’t have made Spurs fans feel great.

“My hamstring can tear any time now,’’ Parker said. “So if it was the regular season, I would be resting like 10 days. But now it’s the NBA Finals. If it gets a tear, it’s life.’’

At least an injured Parker has looked a lot better than a supposedly healthy Ginobili. Ginobili is averaging a meager 7.5 points in the Finals on 34.8-percent shooting.

Following Game 4, Duncan said Ginobili is “trying to be incredibly unselfish’’ and needs to be a “little more selfish.’’ That might not have gone over too well with Ginobili.

“I respond to Pop, not Mr. Duncan,’’ said Ginobili, referring to Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.

Well, Popovich hasn’t been too thrilled lately with Ginobili’s game. He said it’s a concern and Ginobili is “obviously not as confident as usual.’’

Ginobili, 35, spoke matter of factly Saturday. He said he hasn’t ruled out retirement after the season and knows he must now step his game up.

“Of course, the team needs me to play better,’’ Ginobili said. “Much better.’’

Even if that happens, it might not make much of a difference if Miami’s Big Three has a repeat performance. In Game 4, James had 33 points and 11 rebounds, Wade 32 points and Bosh 20 points and 13 rebounds. They combined to shoot an impressive 37 of 64 for 57.8 percent.

While the offensive stats of the trio really jumped out, what also pleased Miami coach Erik Spoelstra was their defensive play. The three combined for 10 steals, with Wade getting six and James and Bosh two apiece.

“The three of them had our three highest defensive grades, the way we chart it,’’ Spoelstra said. “We don’t see it as a coincidence. They have to lead us on that side of the floor . . . They did it on both ends of the court. They have to be two-way players for us to win.’’

If that continues to be the case, one wonders how the Spurs can stop the Heat.

“We prepare for the worst, and the worst for us is all three of them playing well,’’San Antonio guard Danny Green said.

Bosh is just glad he doesn’t have to prepare for a scenario like that.

Chris Tomasson can be reached at christomasson@hotmail.com

or on Twitter @christomasson.