Manu Ginobili rises up and gives the Spurs two points during a 24-point,… (John G. Mabanglo / European…)
1. Call it Manu being Manu. After four consecutive blah performances that raised the prospect of retirement, Manu Ginobili made his first start of the season and showed he has something left. Quite a bit, actually. The 35-year-old buried a long jumper and a three-pointer in the first five minutes and never let up, finishing with a season-high 24 points and 10 assists during San Antonio’s 114-104 victory over Miami in Game 5 of the Finals. Most impressive were a step-back jumper over LeBron James and a few hang-in-the-air-for-an-eternity floaters. The same player who was averaging 7.5 points per game in the series on a putrid 34.5% shooting made eight of 14 shots. You think he will start Game 6?
2. Danny Green, Finals MVP? It’s hard to believe the Spurs cut this guy twice. Green made six three-pointers to give him a Finals record 25, surpassing Ray Allen’s record of 22 from 2008. Green made eight of 15 shots, including six of 10 from beyond the arc, to finish with 24 points. He is averaging 18 points in the series, making him a candidate for the most unlikely Finals MVP ... ever? Pregame.com, which had listed Green as an 80-1 longshot to win the award before the series, has upgraded those odds to 10-1.
3. The clichés about ball movement and the extra pass are true, folks. Watching San Antonio space the floor and find open shooters can seem less like basketball and more like poetry in motion. The Spurs make sharp cuts, crisp passes and shoot without hesitation. The results: San Antonio made 60% of its shots in Game 5, including 40.9% of its three-pointers.
4. This has the feeling of a series that’s going seven games. San Antonio has the momentum. No, wait, Miami does. Hold on, the Spurs have it back. It’s been such a back-and-forth series that it’s hard to imagine either team winning two consecutive games. It almost seems like a big Miami victory in Game 6 is inevitable, leading to a taut winner-take-all Game 7. Another reason to think this series will go the distance: The Heat still has not lost consecutive games since Jan. 8 and Jan. 10.
5. A loss in either of the next two games signals the end of Miami’s Big Three era. James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are all under contract for next season, but another Finals flop could prompt the Heat’s front office to make a pre-emptive trade. Bosh would probably be the odd superstar out in that scenario, given Wade’s ties to the franchise and James’ title as the best player in the game. Of course, any significant shakeup would probably have to be approved by James or the franchise would risk alienating a four-time MVP before he can opt out of his contract in 2014.
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