Five games of the NBA Finals have now been played and completed and what have we learned? For starters Danny Green is well…..you know he’s…..what I’m trying to say is….How do you even describe in a witty analogy what this man is doing? You can’t. All you can do is let the facts explain it and the facts are he is shooting 66% from the money-ball territory and has hit at least four threes in every game, but one. In fact, you might have been able to write this series all but over had Danny Green not appeared on the scene
Now, what else have we learned? How about the fact that neither one of these two teams lose well. In five games of play there has been one close game in game one, while the rest have been absolute blowouts. Each team answers back with their own hay-maker and even though game five may have ended in a ten point Spurs win you’d be lying to yourself if you actually thought the Heat were going to close out their run in the fourth. The fact of the matter is these two teams just don’t lose back-to-back games and if they do, they know how to bounce back. The Heat last lost back-to-back games in January against the Pacers and Trailblazers respectively. Not to mention both games were away. The Spurs lost three in a row to close out the season, granted they were resting for the playoffs, but it’s still three straight losses. They turned things around to sweep the Lakers, take four of six from the Warriors and then get another sweep, this time of the Grizzlies. This is what happens when two teams who don’t lose well face off. They lose, go back to the drawing board and figure out exactly why they lost and then exploit that in the next game. It is truly masterful.
In Game 5 the big story was of course Danny Green breaking Ray Allen’s record of three pointers made in a final series which was set at 23. Danny Green now has 25 with at least one game left to improve on that mark. There was something else that happened in Game 5 though and it was something much, much more important. Manu Ginobili emerged from whatever cavernous place he crawled up inside to and looked the Manu of old. He was dribble-driving by defenders left and right and finishing with his left or right. The man of Manu was unstoppable. What happened exactly? After a sit down one-on-one meeting with Coach Pop Manu felt as though he needed to come out and perform in this one, "I was angry, I was disappointed," Ginobili said. "We are playing in the NBA Finals, we were 2-2 and I felt I still wasn't really helping the team that much. And that was the frustrating part." So with Ginobili feeling this way and after Pop’s meeting with him Pop decided it was time for his go to Manu maneuver. What is that you ask? Well it’s to put him in the starting line up in a crucial playoff game of course. Three other times in his career in the playoffs Ginobili has been in a funk and Pop has put him into the starting lineup to try and get him out of his rut and 3 out of 3 times (now 4 of 4) it has worked beautifully. The previous three times Ginobili dropped at least 30 and then proceeded to remain in the starting lineup until the next series.
Another crucial thing happened in Game 5 is what I have been wanting to happen since before Game 3. If you remember reading from my post after Game 2 you may remember that I said I wanted to see BorisDiaw get a little more involved after his rough Game 2 outing. If you don’t remember that, it is probably because you didn’t read the earlier post and are a terrible person. It’s too late now though, it’s your own fault and you missed out on more awesome writing. Anyways, for Game 3 Pop went in the other direction and didn’t play Diaw for a minute. Not even when they had it in the bag and could breathe easy. That’s all changed now. Diaw is stepping up to the bell and he too is answering it. Being the bigger body he is and being a little quicker on his feet than most power forwards Diaw has been covering LeBron James while my man Y has been catching his breath. Not many people know or remember this, but when this Frenchman was drafted into the league by the Phoenix Suns he was drafted as a point guard. Since then he has put on a little weight and bulked up a bit and is now an extremely versatile power forward. Similar to what James does except not nearly as good. In fact that wasn’t really even a valid comparison because of how much better James is. That doesn’t stop Diaw though. The times where James shot the ball with Diaw guarding him in Game 5, James only shot 1-8 from the floor. Since Diaw is so big and actually has some lateral movement, it allows him to cut off the lane quicker and with a bigger body which leads James to settle for jumpers.
That is the genius of the Spurs. They truly embody what a team should be about. Each game there is a new person stepping up in the limelight giving them exactly what they need. In Game 3 it was Gary Nealcashing in from down town all game while Y plays the most suffocating D imaginable on James. In Game 5 it was so much like the Ginobili of old I was surprised he didn’t have that mop of hair on his head and as I just said we had Diaw denying James.
Who is going to step up now? With two chances to send the Heat packing, who is the man that steps up and helps us out in Game 6. I have 3 players in particular I want to keep an eye on. The first is TiagoSplitter. This man has been horrendous. Every time he has gone up for a shot or pass I have been surprised when it hasn’t been blocked or stolen away from him. I’m not necessarily expecting him to have a good game, but more or less asking him to stand up and prove he is actually capable of being on a basketball court. The next man I’d like to see step up is the young Cory Joseph. It’s a lot to ask of the kid, but with Tony Parker’s ailing hamstring it would be nice to see him get a solid 6-10 in the small amount of minutes he plays. The last man I will have my eye on is an interesting one. I feel as though he is Pop’s secret weapon of sorts and he is just waiting to fire away. That man is the real life Red Barron/Red Rocket, Matt Bonner. You always hear about in big finals clinching games with those random players who step up and have the game of their lives to help solidify the championship and I think if the Spurs want to do that tonight in Miami then Bonner is going to need to make it rain. He has been quiet all series and I believe Pop may have some sort of offensive scheme set up for him to have some open looks when he gets in.
HEY BONNER!! HEY BONNER!!
P.S. I probably will at some point do something regarding the Bruins, but my Hockey knowledge is vastly inferior to that of my basketball so we shall see how that goes. In the meantime everybody should listen to Mike “Doc” Emrick. The man is a master at play-by-play commentary and there isn’t anyone who could even compare to being as good as him. I mean seriously who would ever thought you could feather, flutter, flip, fling, fly, float, finesse, force, fire, flank and fit a puck to a player or space? The man uses over 50 different words a game to describe a pass and most don’t make sense, but at the same time, they make too much sense.