Spurs - Heat Game 5 review: Heat's bad paint job

Spurs - Heat Game 5 review: Heat's bad paint job
June 17, 2013, 1:00 am
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SAN ANTONIO — Numbers have a funny way at times of coming together to tell a story that speaks volumes about why one team leaves an arena grinning from ear-to-ear, and the other leaves grimacing about all the what-could-have-been moments they let slip away.

There were a number of areas that the Heat could have pointed to in explaining their 114-104 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

But the stat that jumps out for obvious reasons is, points scored in the paint.

Miami had 40 points in the paint compared to 50 for the Spurs, a 10-point difference that's magnified when you consider the final margin of defeat for the Heat was just that, 10 points.

With no true center to throw the ball into the post, Miami has managed to get its points in the lane off of driving lay-up attempts and dribble penetration.

That's where Dwyane Wade and LeBron James have to be at their best.

"That's where it starts, honestly," James said. "Getting into the paint. Between the two of us, we probably missed 12 lay-ups (in Game 5)."

And within moments, you could practically see all the missed opportunities that James was alluding to, replaying in his mind like a nightmare whose ending he knew all too well.

"Those are points in the paint that we weren't able to convert which we are not worried about," James said. "Those are shots we make. And maybe it would be a different turnout at that point."

Miami's inability to cash in on its numerous scoring opportunities around the basket was among the factors leading to their loss on Sunday night. Here are some other game indicators pointed out prior to the game, and how they actually played out.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: The Heat forced San Antonio into the adjustment game less than a minute into Game 4, when Spurs big man Tiago Splitter found himself matched up with Dwyane Wade. The Spurs countered Miami's small ball lineup by using Boris Diaw who may get the starting nod tonight in place of Splitter.

WHAT WE SAW: The Spurs made a lineup change, but instead of Diaw they opted to insert a frigid-shooting Manu Ginobili into the starting lineup. He responded with seven points in the first quarter alone after having averaged just 7.5 points in the first four games. He finished Sunday's game with 24 points and 10 assists.

MATCHUP TO WATCH:  Tony Parker vs Mario Chalmers: Parker acknowledged his hamstring injury from Game 3 is still an issue for him, and that he would not be playing if this were the regular season. Still, they need him to be effective for all four quarters and not the first two which was the case in Game 4. As for Chalmers, he didn't score a ton of points for Miami but did hit a couple of huge 3s during their third quarter stretch to gain control of the game.

WHAT WE SAW: Parker didn't have the usual end-to-end explosion off the dribble that we saw throughout the regular season and earlier in the playoffs, but he had more than enough speed to blow past Miami guards Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole. Parker led all scorers with 26 points along with five assists.

PLAYER TO WATCH:  Although LeBron James led all scorers with 33 points in Game 4, Dwyane Wade was the true star of the game. It's not realistic to expect Wade to put up 32 points and get six steals like he did in Game 4. But if he can have another high impact performance, the Heat will head back to Miami with a chance to close things out on Tuesday.

WHAT WE SAW: Wade wasn't quite as efficient scoring on Sunday as he was in Miami's Game 4 win, but he still had a good night. He finished with 25 points to go with 10 assists and a pair of blocked shots while shooting 10-for-22 from the field.

STAT TO TRACK:  Apparently third quarter is the charm in this series. The eventual winner in each of the first four games, has won the third quarter in all but one game. The lone exception was Game 1 when the Heat and Spurs each finished the third with 20 points scored.

WHAT WE SAW: The third quarter was again a difference-maker of sorts for the eventual winner, San Antonio. The Spurs outscored the Heat 26-23 in the third, which included the quarter ending with a 12-1 run by San Antonio.