Key to Game 5: Manu Ginobili was hot ...
And LeBron James was not.
It turns out that all Manu Ginobili needed to get his game going was a chance to start.
Ginobili’s 24 points and plenty of 3-pointers from Danny Green were the keys to supporting another big game from Tony Parker on the offensive end, and a different look for LeBron James was huge on the defensive end and pivotal to the Spurs taking a 3-2 advantage in this series.
Let’s break down the statistical highlights.
Difference Maker: Ginobili’s great game
The Elias Sports Bureau noted that Ginobili became the first player to start an NBA Finals game after not starting a game all season since Marcus Camby for the 1999 Knicks.
Manu Ginobili vs Heat
Ginobili made Gregg Popovich look very smart. His 24 points nearly matched the 30 points he had in the first four games of the series.
Ginobili got 50 touches of the basketball in this game and drove the ball to the basket a dozen times, both numbers far exceeding what he’d done previously in this series.
The Spurs outscored the Heat 45-33 on drives in Game 5, including 14 points when Ginobili kept the ball on his drives, and nine points on drives during the Spurs 19-1 run.
The Heat shot a series-low 39 percent on drives, including 4-of-12 from Dwyane Wade and LeBron James (who were a combined 11-of-15 for 26 points in Game 4).
Green makes it look easy
Danny Green matched Ginobili’s 24 points and made six more 3-pointers.
That gave him 25 3-pointers for the series, breaking Ray Allen’s record for most 3-pointers made in an NBA Finals. He made only 28 3-pointers in the previous three rounds of the playoffs combined.
Green was equally good whether the shot was open (3-for-5) or contested (3-for-5) in this game. He's 18-for-24 on open 3-pointers in the series, 7-for-14 when contested.
Boris Diaw: Defensive Stopper
The other big adjustment the Spurs made was to throw one more look his way-- putting Boris Diaw on him for an extended period of time.
LeBron James by Defender, Game 5
James was 1-for-8 shooting against Diaw in Game 5, and 7-of-14 against all other defenders.
James’ first four shot attempts against Diaw were all at least 19 feet from the basket, and when he changed course and posted up, he was 0-for-3 on those attempts.
The Spurs did a good job at thwarting the Heat both from inside and outside. They contested eight of Miami's 12 shot attempts from beyond 10 feet in the first quarter. The Heat missed all eight of those shots.
Looking ahead …
The winner of Game 5 of the Finals when a series is tied, 2-2, has won seven of 10 possible titles under the 2-3-2 format.
The Heat will try to become the fourth team within that format (which dates to 1985) to win Games 6 and 7 at home in the Finals after trailing, 3-2. The other three are the 1988 Lakers, 1994 Rockets and 2010 Lakers.
The last team to defeat the defending NBA champ in the Finals was the 2005 Spurs who beat the Detroit Pistons.
The Heat have not lost consecutive games since January 8-10. Losing on Tuesday would end their streak and their season.
The Spurs are 14-2 in potential series-clinching games played on the road since the start of the 2002-03 postseason. The rest of the NBA is 61-75 in that span.