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Friday, June 14, 2013

Best of Three

The defending NBA champion Miami Heat handed the Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs a decisive defeat last night, beating the Spurs at the AT&T Center, 109-93. The Heat tied the series at two games apiece and guaranteed that the series would return to Miami for a Game 6. The NBA Finals are essentially down to a best-of-three series, with one game, Game 5, remaining at the AT&T Center in San Antonio.

Only Game 1 in this series has been close at the end of the game. Game 2 was a thumping of the Spurs in Miami and Game 3 was an historic vaporization of the Heat in San Antonio, a 36 point mauling by the Spurs. The Heat's victory in Game 4 was not in doubt throughout most of the first quarter and was on the way to becoming very lopsided as the final buzzer sounded.

Are the sleeping giants out of hibernation? 1

Miami wins the series if: They continue to get a "Big Three" effort from their Big Three. Chris Bosh broke out of his lengthy slump with 20 points, 13 rebounds, and a host of hustle plays. The Heat got 30 or more points from both LeBron James and Dwyane Wade for the first time in the series. If that happens in two of the next three games, it won't matter how San Antonio tries to counter the Heat; the Heat will win the series.

Miami loses the series if: They revert back to "The LeBron James Show". Last night's game was a case in point of why James needed to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers to win a championship. Other players had to step up when it counted most. In Game 1 and Game 3 of this series, too often, James was the only player creating shots for himself, being aggressive, and pushing the ball towards the hole. When he was stifled, nobody was there to pick him up and the Heat lost.

San Antonio wins the series if: They shoot at a high percentage. Miami's perimeter defense is its crippling weapon against opposing offenses. Should Spurs guards Danny Green and Gary Neal be able to continue their three point shooting circus and guard Manu Ginobli can wake up, even a little, the Spurs are going to be an extremely tough out. Tony Parker's injured hamstring is another x-factor. If he can penetrate the lane effectively, the Spurs have a good chance to take the series.

San Antonio loses the series if: They continue committing turnovers. I cannot recall the last time I saw a team make their opponent pay for turnovers with points as often as this year's Miami Heat. Spurs turnovers that the Heat convert into a transition play appear to equal automatic Miami points. The Spurs average 12 turnovers per game during this year's playoffs. In their two Finals losses to the Heat, they have averaged 17 turnovers per game. That can't happen if the Spurs expect to win two of the next three games, especially with two of those games being in Miami.

If you see this look on San Antonio Coach Gregg Popovich during a game, the Spurs have a problem. 2

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