Finals G5: Spurs 114, Heat 104: Miami must now win two in a row at home to repeat as champs; also, Miguel Olivo, NCAA clowns, Sad-O-Meter back & more
1) It is TUESDAY, JUNE 18. Watch for a new Heat-Spurs Game 6 blogpost very soon. 2) Congrats to the Panthers' Jonathan Huberdeau, the club's first-ever NHL rookie of the year. 3) Thanks for NBC Sports national radio for having us on again to talk Heat. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat Game 4 win, Dolphins poll result, Marlins Sad-O-Meter.
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New column from San Antonio and Game 5 Heat loss: Click on It Don't Come Easy for my latest column, on the job Miami has left itself with a 3-2 series deficit.
FINALS G5: SPURS 114, HEAT 104: POOR SHOOTING, BAD DEFENSE PUSH MIAMI'S BACK TO WALL: Heat shot only 43 percent Sunday night in the Game 5 loss but giving up 114 points and 60 percent shooting to the Spurs was worse. Can't blame the Big 3, which combined for 66 points. And Ray Allen had 21 off the bench. Miami simply must play more tenacious defense, especially against Danny Green, whom they have allowed to score an NBA Finals-record 25 3-point baskets in five games. Heat now have gone 12 consecutive playoff games this year without back-to-back wins. But they won't repeat as champs unless they end that slump and win the next two at home. Winning Sunday could have made things so much easier. But what fun is easy, right? Watch for my column from San Antonio off tonight's loss online. ..... Original post: Strange, isn't? This Heat team won a club-record 66 games including 27 in a row but the question attached to Miami tonight is, "Can they win two in a row?" They haven't since the second round of this postseason, an 0-5 stretch after wins that has this NBA Finals knotted 2-2. That must change if a repeat title is to happen, because if they don't win a second in a row in tonight's Game 5, they'd need to win two in a row back in Miami in Games 6-7. I still feel like the far greater pressure is on San Antonio tonight. In a 2-2 Finals, Game 5 winners have won the title 20 of 27 times, and that likelihood would be even greater for a Miami team with two straight chances at home. Miami is expected to continue its small-ball starting lineup with Mike Miller in place of Udonis Haslem. All breakdowns of analytics show Miami is better when Chris Bosh (or Birdman Andersen or Haslem) is the only "big" on the floor. That stretches the Spurs' defense and provides space for LeBron and D-Wade. Should be an emotional night in central Texas, as San Antonians might be seeing their own Big 3 on the home floor for the last time. The Heat need to send them home quiet to lock down another championship.
FOR HEAT'S BIG 3, GAME 4 WAS ABOUT RESTORING FAITH: It wasn't the how as much as the who that restored so much faith in that Finals-tying Game 4 win the other night. The Heat's Big 3 collectively -- and LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh individually -- hadn't been themselves much of this postseason. Doubts crept in. But Thursday they made all of that go away. Thursday the Big 3 were exactly what we were cheering in that arena celebration three summers ago: Dominance. Not one, not two, but three stars, all aligned. They must be that twice more for Miami to repeat as champs, but I think everything changed with Game 4. Title likelihood swung back to Miami, and trust in the Big 3 blueprint was restored. I explore this fully in my Saturday column from San Antonio. Click Restoring Faith to read.
NCAA WILL COME OUT OF THIS PROTRACTED MESS LOOKING WORSE THAN CANES: So the NCAA infractions committee hearings on the UM/Nevin Shapiro case are finished and now we wait six weeks for the verdict on possible additional lpunishments, and then likely more time as Miami appeals the decision. The question now: Which will end first? This saga that has already dragged on more than three years, or Shapiro's prison senetnec? (He's serving 20 years). I am as convinced as ever that the NCAA, with the bungled, corrupted investigation by its enforcement wing, will come out of this with its reputation damaged far more irreparably than The U's. (I took this photo of NCAA headquarters while in Indianapolis for the Heat-Pacers series. Based on recent history, the side of the building should have had a giant red clown nose affixed to it).
CATCHER OLIVO QUITS ON MARLINS: Speaking of clowns, catcher Miguel Olivo walks out on the Marlins in the middle of the national anthem. He was upset about lack of playing time and team had ignored his request for a release. Dude, you're 34 and hitting .203. What a punk move. Whatever "professionalism" means, this act was its antonym.
SAD-O-METER IS BACK! (BARELY...): We have this blog feature we update as long as Marlins' winning percentage is under .300 -- as long as the New York Mets' infamous 1962 record of 40-120 (.250) is within dubious reach. Well, after the briefest hiatus, and by the barest of margins, last night's loss brings us back! Updated Sad-O-Meter: Current record 20-47, .299. Season projection: 48.36 wins, 113.64 losses.
Click back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogpost...