Control of finals at stake Sunday night
“It is a must-win. We don’t want to go back down there down a game with two games remaining at their house.” TIM DUNCAN, San Antonio power forward
SAN ANTONIO — Tony Parker’s hamstring, not Dwyane Wade’s knee, is the current chief injury concern.
Manu Ginobili, not Chris Bosh, is mired in the slump of the moment.
Things change quickly at the NBA Finals, and with everything suddenly seeming right with the Miami Heat, it’s up to the San Antonio Spurs to change them back Sunday night in Game 5.
“It is a must-win. We don’t want to go back down there down a game with two games remaining at their house,” Spurs star Tim Duncan said Saturday.
“Obviously, we lose this game, we’re not giving up or anything, but we want to go back up with a chance to finish there. Huge pressure if we have to go back there and try to win two.”
The Heat evened the series with a 109-93 victory Thursday night, setting up what’s often the pivotal moment of the finals. Of the 27 times the series was tied at 2-2, the Game 5 winner went on to win 20 of them.
“I think that’s what everyone would like, 2-2 in the finals for Game 5,” LeBron James said. “We are excited about the opportunity. We have another opportunity to win on someone else’s floor.”
It’s the same situation Miami was in two years ago, losing Game 5 in Dallas. But the Heat also had dropped the previous game, and James was struggling through a poor series by his standards.
Everything looks good for the Heat as they arrive at this stage now. James was dominant in Game 4 with 33 points and 11 rebounds, and Wade scored 32 points, not appearing to be bothered at all by a painful right knee that had limited his effectiveness in the postseason.
With Bosh breaking out with 20 points and 13 rebounds, everything that was a problem for the Heat a few days ago no longer looks to be the case. Instead, the obstacles look to be piling up for the Spurs.
“It’s a part of the playoffs,” Wade said. “There’s always high moments. There’s always low moments. There’s moments when you have guys who are in a slump, et cetera. Guys who come out of it. Great story lines. It’s all of it.”
The teams returned to practice Saturday after taking a day off, and though Parker said his strained right hamstring was feeling better and he hoped to be close to 100 percent by the game, he later made that sound impossible.
“My hamstring can tear any time now,” he said. “So if it was the regular season, I would be resting like 10 days. But now it’s the NBA Finals. If it gets a tear, it’s life.”
Ginobili is averaging 7.5 points on 34.5 percent shooting in the series, making only three of his 16 3-point attempts. Parker said he’s still confident in his longtime teammate, and coach Gregg Popovich said he wasn’t worried about either player.
The Spurs have never lost a Game 5 in the NBA Finals, including victories in 2003 and ’05, when the series were tied 2-2. Sunday’s game could be the last time Duncan, Parker and Ginobili play at home in the finals, and they want to go out a winner.
“This game is huge,” Ginobili said. “We don’t want to go to Miami knowing that we have to win both. Going there to win one of the two is a different situation. So Game 5, regardless of where you play, it’s huge for you at 2-2. We’ve seen it too many times.”