NBA Finals: What to make of Game 5?

Originally Published: June 17, 2013
ESPN.com

Powered by a throwback performance from Manu Ginobili, the San Antonio Spurs took a 3-2 series lead with a Game 5 victory over the Heat to close out the AT&T Center for the season. With their backs against the wall, can the Heat finally win two straight?


1. Fact or Fiction: Danny Green is Finals MVP thus far.


Kevin Arnovitz, TrueHoop: Fact. He is the only starter on the floor hitting more than half his shots and set a record for most 3-pointers made in a Finals. He has, along with Kawhi Leonard, also carried the load defensively on the wing for the Spurs. As résumés go, that's a pretty strong one.

Tom Haberstroh, ESPN Insider: Fact. I'll give him the nod over Tony Parker. Not just because of the historic 3-point shooting, but because he's bringing it defensively as well. When he stopped LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on back-to-back transition plays in Game 5, I almost started a campaign to get him in the Hall of Fame. Green's fairy tale Finals continues.

Andrew McNeill, 48 Minutes of Hell: Fact. As incredible as that sounds, it's hard to argue anyone else in this case. If the Spurs win this series and Green is in fact named MVP, we can talk about how the Spurs' system is the hidden MVP, allowing guys like Green to step in and excel in the roles provided for them.

Marc Stein, ESPN.com: Fact. Talked myself into it after Game 5. I have to give Green the edge leading into Game 6 even though he's benefiting a ton, as Green himself says, by all the attention Tony Parker attracts. But here's the thing: Green's outside shooting is pretty much the only thing we've been able to count on in this series. It's the only thing that carries over from game to game. Which gets bonus points from me. So his case is legit no matter how laughable this discussion would have been as recently as June 5.

Adry Torres, ESPN Deportes: Fact. Heading into the series, I thought Parker or Tim Duncan would have been the obvious picks, but Green has simply stolen the show with his 3-point theatrics. A great story for a guy who was waived twice and went down to the D-League, excelling with no fear in his first Finals while many of the stars have faltered.


2. Fact or Fiction: Manu Ginobili is back for good this series.


Arnovitz: Faction. We have to figure he'll start the remainder of the series, given the quality of the individual and team effort in Game 5, but it has been impossible to glean anything about the future in the series by the events of the last game. Ginobili now has to do it against a trapped animal protecting its habitat.

Haberstroh: Fiction. Despite a vintage Manu Ginobili performance in Game 5, I'm not ready to declare him back "for good." He's a 35-year-old who had scored double digits in only two of his previous nine games heading into Sunday's action. This felt more like a fluke than for real, considering where he is in his career.

McNeill: Fiction. Ginobili played a fantastic game in leading the Spurs to a 3-2 series lead, but he has been unable to string multiple good performances together for most of this season, not to mention the playoffs. A similar performance from Manu in Game 6 would be stunning.

Stein: Fiction. As stated in my previous answer, nothing in this series has been "for good" except for Danny Green's five-game fairy tale.

Torres: Fact. Ginobili has always dismissed the notion that he belonged out with the starting five, preferring to do what was best for his team. He has been sluggish this series and Pop found a way to get him going by inserting him into the starting lineup in Game 5. After Manu's hot start this game, Pop should stick with it.


3. Fact or Fiction: Erik Spoelstra is being outcoached.


Arnovitz: Fiction. Forty-eight hours ago, Spoelstra was the genius who forced Gregg Popovich to sub out his starting center less than a minute into the game. Now he's the bozo who can't find a defensive scheme to stop Danny Green. We can rightly say Popovich is the best coach in the game without insulting Spoelstra.

Haberstroh: Fiction. This has been a hard-fought series that has swung wildly in both directions. With so many 3-pointers being shot, it's difficult to pin a loss on a coach either way; some teams just get absurdly hot. However, I will say Spoelstra may be too loyal to Udonis Haslem if it means that Chris Andersen can't even get off the bench.

McNeill: Fact, but is there any shame in that? Coaching is such a hard thing to evaluate for those who aren't privy to all the minute adjustments that go on behind the scenes. But on the surface, it seems like Pop has played this series beautifully. He's one of the best ever for a reason.

Stein: Fiction. I'm wondering the same things you are about Mike Miller's declining production ever since he became a starter ... along with the total benching of Chris Andersen. But I think I'm going to wait until one of these teams loses two games in a row before I start blaming coaches.

Torres: Fiction. It comes down to execution. If Miami wins, Spoelstra outcoached Popovich. So, this time, Pop outdid his counterpart. But there's only so much a coach can do. As cliché as it sounds, it's on LeBron, D-Wade, Chris Bosh and the rest of the Heat players to execute. The only decision that I will question is the disappearance of the Birdman.


4. Fact or Fiction: Great offense beat great defense in Game 5.


Arnovitz: Fiction. Great offense beat disoriented and often lazy defense in Game 5. The image of Danny Green cutting corner-to-corner behind an oblivious Mario Chalmers to get a wide-open 3-pointer 10 feet from the closest Heat defender told the whole story.

Haberstroh: Fiction. I wouldn't say it was great defense by the Heat, but it was certainly great offense. The Spurs were hitting contested shots left and right, which can happen on any given night. In the Finals, it just feels more meaningful.

McNeill: Fiction. It's not that the Heat defense was bad -- although their habit for leaving Green open should stop -- but it wasn't as active as it has been. The way they swarmed the Spurs offense in Games 2 and 4 had to be incredibly taxing. Keeping up that kind of effort is not proving sustainable.

Stein: Fiction. Great offense, to quote Shane Battier, torched "unacceptable defense" in Game 5. The Spurs were obviously in a serious offensive flow but Miami didn't bring anything close to the defensive energy and activity we saw in their two wins. Chris Bosh insisted that the Heat could manufacture the desperation we all saw on display after losses in Game 1 and Game 3, but they didn't.

Torres: Faction. What impressed me the most was the way San Antonio countered every Miami run; that one-point lead late in the third quarter felt like it was going to just flip and become a double-digit advantage for the defending champs, but the Spurs kept their composure on both ends of the court.


5. Fact or Fiction: A team will win back-to-back games in this series.


Arnovitz: Fact. I expected this series to go seven games, and I picked the Heat to win it based on the extra game at home. The Spurs are impressive, disciplined and opportunistic, and wouldn't surprise me at all with a win at AmericanAirlines Arena. But I'll stay with Miami at home, finally stringing together a couple of wins in Game 6 and Game 7.

Haberstroh: Fact. The Heat aren't doing backflips because they "stole" a game in San Antonio, but they must feel relieved that they won't play on the Spurs' home floor again. Because of home-court advantage and the fact that LeBron plays for them, I see the Heat winning in seven. That is, if James has anything left in the tank.

McNeill: Fact. Before the series I leaned Spurs in six with a split in Miami, and San Antonio taking two out of three in Miami. I'm thinking San Antonio closes it out Tuesday. The Heat bounce back better than anyone, but elimination games can be weird. We deserve a seven-game series, so here's hoping I'm wrong.

Stein: Fact. Saying otherwise would mean that I don't believe in my Spurs in 6 pick. Because Spurs in 6 is still mathematically possible -- something I haven't always been able to say this postseason -- I'm going to hold firm. Making yet another prediction without conviction in these Finals, as most of us have, I'll say San Antonio finds a way to eke out another road win.

Torres: Fact. I want to predict there will be a Game 7, but I think the Spurs will be the first team to pull off back-to-back Ws in the Finals. Popovich isn't letting his team overlook Game 6.

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