The Miami Heat bounced back from the worst playoff loss in franchise history in Game 3 to knock of the San Antonio Spurs 109-93 in Game 4. Their stars set a tone after falling behind by ten early in the first quarter. Here are a few thoughts on the Big 3’s performance, a search for Manu Ginobili, and a look towards Game 5.
1. One Night Only?: For the first time this series, Miami’s Big 3 put on a show that was great to behold. LeBron James was an aggressive version of his stat sheet stuffing self. He had 33 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. He set a tone early that his teammates followed, and at points took over from him. Chris Bosh remembered that he was 6’11 for the first time all series, and started doing work around the basket. He finished with 20 points, 13 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. He spent a lot of time rolling to the basket after setting picks, instead of popping out for jumpshots. He played a very aggressive game, and for at least one night silenced his critics. Dwyane Wade had what I saw called on Facebook a “Throwback Thursday” game, and looked like DWade from earlier this season. He torched the Spurs for 32 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 6 steals, and 1 block. He finally made the Spurs pay for giving him room to shoot. He showed off his slashing ability, and played excellent defense as well. It was a great game by all three, but begs the question was it just for one night only?
LeBron has been the most consistent of the three throughout the playoffs. Bosh has been lingering on the perimeter way too much for his own good in my opinion. While I know he is not the prototypical big man, you still need a 6’11 guy to be able to rebound, and make an occasional bucket in the paint. He did that in abundance in Game 4, and the Heat will need that from here on out from him. Wade has been dealing with a knee injury, and whether he will admit it or not, feeling some sort of way about LeBron running things now. In Game 4, it looked like he was out to remind us that he is still an elite player in this league, and can have a monster game. As I said earlier, the question for both Bosh and Wade is, was this just for one night only? For the sake of the Heat and their “fans”, it better had been the beginning of a solid stretch of basketball for the next three games, or the Heat are in trouble.
2. Milk Carton Manu: There have been a lot of whispers throughout the playoffs about the play of Manu Ginobili. After Game 4 of the Finals, those whispers turned into loud screams. He is going out of his way to win the first ever “James Harden Finals Disappearing Act” award. Anyone who remembers the Heat’s series against the Thunder last year, remembers how Harden disappeared, and killed any chance the Thunder had of beating the Heat. The Spurs have done well to win two games without any contribution from Ginobili. However, to win this series against the Heat, they will need him to step his game up.
In his time with the Spurs, he has been a vital component in three championship runs. In these playoffs, he has made big plays in spots, but has not been the consistent force the Spurs need. Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and the others have been able to carry the day to this point. However, with Parker being hurt, and the Heat figuring out way to defend Duncan, finishing this series off without help from Ginobili will be tough. So, Manu, it is on you. We know that you have been a great player through the years, and still have it in you. Starting with Game 5, it is time for you to channel that, and step it up. Otherwise, James Harden should send a thank you card for helping us forget how bad he disappeared in last season’s Finals.
3. Now What?: Coming into Game 5, this series is exactly where I expected it to be. Having picked the Spurs to win in six games, I figured they would win one in Miami, and the Heat would return the favor, and get at least one in San Antonio. However, going into Game 5, I have no clue what is going to happen. Will the Heat’s Big 3 come out in attack mode like they did in Game 4? Will Spoelstra’s gamble of starting Mike Miller continue to work, or comeback to bite him? Will Tony Parker’s hamstring stay together long enough to keep up his good play? Will Manu Ginobili remember that the Finals are going on, and show up? Which role player from either team will have a monster game? There are many questions as we head into Game 5, and I can not wait to have them answered. Sunday will be a lot of fun.
Well, there you have my thoughts on Game 4. I am looking forward to seeing what will happen on Sunday night, and will be here with my thoughts afterwards. Please feel free to comment here, or on Twitter with any replies.
I’m Jimmy L. Wilson, Jr., and I approve this message.