Heading into a pivotal Game 5, a look at how the NBA Finals between Spurs and Heat stacks up

  • Article by: JON KRAWCZYNSKI , AP Basketball Writer
  • Updated: June 15, 2013 - 4:20 PM

SAN ANTONIO — The swings in momentum in these NBA Finals have been so wild that it has been difficult to grasp just who is in control of the series. Maybe that's because with San Antonio and Miami tied at two games apiece, neither team really is, or feels like it has, any semblance of control.

The Heat won Game 2 by 19, lost Game 3 by 36 and then cruised to a 16-point win in Game 4 on Thursday night to even things up. This series may be on a run of blowouts, but each game was close at halftime and felt like it could have gone either way until one or two factors conspired to bring on the avalanche.

"This series is being decided by this," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said, pinching his index finger and thumb together. "It might not be that way in the (scores), but in terms of how competitive it actually is."

It's a three-game series now. First team to two wins, with a pivotal Game 5 on Sunday in San Antonio.

"It's a play here, a shot here or there with three minutes to go or could be a period at the end of the third period where you turn it over two or three times and the other team makes two shots," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "It's a seven-point lead and you never recover. It's just those little moments in the game that determine the outcome. It could be a call or a turnover. Very, very fine line."

With that in mind, here's a look at some of the keys and the obstacles for both teams.

___

WHY THE HEAT CAN WIN:

—They've got the best player in the world, and he's finally playing like it: LeBron James was locked down in the first three games of the series, unable to get to the paint or knock down open jumpers that he always had. Finally in Game 4 he looked like the four-time MVP: 33 points, 11 rebounds and four assists.

—They don't have to win on the road again: The Heat's victory Thursday assured them that the series will end on South Beach, where Games 6 and 7 are scheduled to be played.

—Their small lineup worked like a charm: Spoelstra's gamble to insert sharp-shooter Mike Miller into the lineup worked like a charm. Miller didn't score a point in Game 4, but his mere presence forced Popovich to abandon his best defensive lineup that included big men Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter prowling the paint. Game 3 rebounds: Spurs 52 (19 offensive), Heat 36. Game 4 rebounds: Heat 41, Spurs 36 (5 offensive).

___

WHY THE HEAT ARE IN TROUBLE:

—Dwyane Wade's health: The All-Star's right knee has been aching throughout the postseason, and his teammates and coaches have seen it zap the energy and spring he normally has. He was brilliant in Game 4 with 32 points and six steals. But will his knee allow him to sustain that effort going forward?

—Inconsistency: The Heat haven't won two straight games since about three weeks. For some reason, it seems to be a team that needs adversity to get it going. They've already fallen behind in the series twice. A third time would definitely be playing with fire.

—They're not as intimidating: Even with their three All-Stars and a 27-game winning streak this season, the Heat are not striking fear into their opponents' hearts anymore. The Pacers took them to seven games in the Eastern Conference finals, and the Spurs — from the veterans down to the youngsters — have not backed down. "I just think that teams are not afraid of them," Hall of Famer Magic Johnson said.

___

WHY THE SPURS CAN WIN:

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Brooklyn 109 FINAL
Boston 107
Cleveland 98 FINAL
Orlando 89
Indiana 109 FINAL
Detroit 119
Milwaukee 107 FINAL
Atlanta 77
Houston 117 FINAL
Memphis 111
San Antonio 90 FINAL
New Orleans 97
Charlotte 75 FINAL
Oklahoma City 98
LA Lakers 98 FINAL
Dallas 102
Minnesota 102 FINAL
Denver 106
Philadelphia 93 FINAL
Portland 114
Phoenix 115 FINAL
Sacramento 106
Illinois 18 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 35
Rutgers 40 FINAL
North Carolina 21
NC State 34 FINAL
UCF 27
Cincinnati 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
(15) Arizona State 1:10 PM
Duke
Miami-Florida 2:30 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
Tennessee
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite Gophers head coach?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close