Published June 16, 2013
| Sports Network
With the NBA Finals knotted 2-2, Sunday's Game 5 between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs will be huge in determining the next league champion.
For the defending champion Heat, they carry some momentum after a 109-93 victory Thursday night in Alamo City, but no one in a Miami uniform will be taking Game 5 lightly.
"We need to play with the same sense of urgency as if we were down 2-1 or whatever the case may be tomorrow night," LeBron James said on Saturday. "We are excited about the opportunity. We have another opportunity to win on someone else's floor."
The Spurs appear to be in a slightly more desperate situation. A loss on Sunday sends them down 2-3 with the remaining two games back in South Beach.
"It is a must-win," stated Tim Duncan. "We don't want to go back down there down a game with two games remaining at their house. It is a must-win situation. 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."
In Game 4, Miami fans were treated to the Big Three they expected every night. James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh combined for 85 points, 30 rebounds, nine assists, 10 steals and five blocks.
It was a somewhat unexpected performance considering the inconsistent play of both Wade and Bosh during this postseason.
"We would love to do what we did last game every game. But every game is different," said James. "Every game presents different challenges. We haven't been able to string games like that for the Big Three in this postseason. But we're still here. We're still in a position to win an NBA championship, and that's what's most important."
James was the high scorer with 33 points on Thursday, but the catalyst was Wade. He finished with 32 points and set the tone with his aggression in the first half. Then, when the Heat began to pull away, it was Wade at the center of things.
"My team needed a better performance out of me. And mentally I had to change my mind," said Wade, who has battled a knee injury during the playoffs. "But as I said at the beginning of this series, I felt better in this series than I felt in the Indiana series. It's been a plus."
With due respect to Wade's knee, the majority of health news in this series has focused on the hamstring of Spurs' All-Star guard Tony Parker.
He was a game-time decision for Game 4 on Thursday with a grade 1 hamstring strain. Parker suited up and scored 15 points and handed out nine assists in 31 minutes.
Parker benefited more than anyone from the two days off between Games 4 and 5.
"The doctors say it will not change anything if I rest two more days. My hamstring can tear any time now," acknowledged Parker. "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."
Another concern for the Spurs is the regression in the game of Manu Ginobili. He hasn't scored in double figures since Game 1 and is averaging just 7.5 ppg during the Finals.
And Spurs skipper Gregg Popovich was effusive as always when asked Saturday about two of his best players struggling.
"I'm not worried about anything that you just mentioned; they're fine," opined Pop.
Game 6 will be back in Miami Tuesday night.