After tying the series 2-2 with an explosive performance in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, the Miami Heat fell back into their sluggish ways to lose Game 5 to San Antonio by a score of 104-114. After seeing the unmatchable amount of talent and energy radiating from the Heat team in Game 4, you can't help but ask yourself, ‘What went wrong?'
Despite the utmost respect the Heat seemed to have for the San Antonio Spurs before the start of this series, the Heat have not shown much of that respect on the court, treating the Spurs like a team that can be beaten with lazy defense and low-energy play. Miami did an above average job of forcing San Antonio off the 3-point line in Game 4, but where was that strategy in Game 5? Nowhere to be found, as Spurs sharpshooter Danny Green set a new record for most 3-pointers in an NBA Finals series. Then, even after setting the new record, Dwyane Wade and the Heat continued to leave Green wide open for the remainder of the game.
Tony Parker's reaction to the wide open Danny Green says it all. "I can't believe he's still open at this moment of the series," Parker stated in his postgame interviews. "If you are going to leave Danny wide open, he's going to make 3s."
While Danny Green and his 25 3-pointers in the first five games of this series continue to pose a threat to Miami and their neglectful defense, it is not the only thing holding them down. There is also the fact that San Antonio shot 60% from the field (the first team to do so in a Finals game in four years) to match Miami's 43%, and the game changing performance by Manu Ginobili. Ginobili came in averaging only 7.5 points per game and ended Game 5 with a whopping 24 points and 10 assists. Tony Parker also continues to run circles around the Miami Heat's lazy and undisciplined defense, skipping his way into the lane whenever he so desires.
The Miami Heat team that played with unprecedented energy and virtually unstoppable sense of urgency, for 27 consecutive games at least, is now missing in action when needed most. The Miami Heat poses the uncanny ability to turn up their level of intensity when desired, and reach that level of dominance that only Miami is capable of reaching. However, with that comes the ability to turn that same intensity off, which is exactly what we have seen in all 3 of Miami's losses this series. The lack of aggressiveness from any Miami Heat player on the court, alongside the lack of consistent production (offensively or defensively) from any of the teams' key role players, are two of the main factors in this troubling NBA Finals series.
Returning home to the AmericanAirlines Arena for Games 6 and 7 is the best possible motivation the Miami Heat could possibly receive. Not to mention the team's energy tends to skyrocket when playing on their home court, and the important role players the team has been lacking all series, come out of hiding. If the Miami Heat want to hold that Larry O'Brien trophy proudly above their heads for the second year in a row, they must make the proper adjustments; find some consistency, play with more aggressiveness, gain some discipline, and add some much needed energy to their defense. All fans can do now is hope that the dominant Miami Heat team we saw back in March comes to play for the remaining Games 6 and 7.
You know what they say; a little faith can go a long way.