It took four games, but we finally saw Miami play like.... Miami. LeBron, Wade, and Bosh all connected for big nights. There was no more talk about facilitating, no more talk about balky knees, and no more excuses. The star players finally realized that they're star players, and played like it. The result? San Antonio looked like a second class team in comparison.
Why did it take four games? Will it last for the remaining two to three?
When Miami plays basketball like that, they're not beatable. I predicted the Heat in six, and I'll stick by that prediction. Particularly seeing Miami finally pull their collective heads out of their asses. If Miami finishes this thing off then gone will be the trade rumors around Bosh, ended will be the talk of Wade slowing down, and silenced will be the critics of LeBron in the clutch.
Miami still needs two more wins to quiet all of their demons, but they finally came out and played in such a way that it's hard to see them not getting those wins.
The Heat haven't lost two games in a row since January 8th/10th against the Pacers/Blazers which makes game five awfully critical if you're the San Antonio Spurs. It also stands to reason that if the Spurs can't win game five, their odds of winning both game six and game seven on the road seem rather long.
However, while the Heat haven't lost two in a row in forever, it's worth noting they also haven't won two in a row since closing out the Bulls and taking game one against the Pacers. They've gone every other game over their last 11 through the course of both the ECF and finals. Personally, I think they snap the pattern to finish off the Spurs in six.
So what went differently?
It starts with Miami's star players knocking down their open jump shots. The Spurs have played under screens all series long and watched LeBron and Wade clank jumper after jumper despite taking open shots in their wheelhouse. It was a strategy worth continuing for as long as it worked, but it's also a strategy that was doomed to fail sooner rather than later.
San Antonio's fortunate it worked through three games and grabbed them two wins to be honest. Now the Spurs need to look at whether or not to try to adjust to cover those jumpers harder by pursuing over the screens and rotating more inside which leaves open the perimeter or whether to continue to stick with what got them to two games a piece and hope the Heat go back into a shooting slump.
Miami was also far more assertive on both ends of the court, disrupting the Spurs offense more with their athleticism and attempting to drive the lane more on offense. We saw more fast break points than previously, and the Spurs were blocked away repeatedly whenever they tried to enter the paint.
The really bad news for the Spurs was this was an old fashioned butt whupping. Miami didn't shoot well from the outside, they didn't get to the free throw line, they dominated on defense, forcing turnover after turnover, and dominated on offense shooting 52.9% from the floor. They won by simply being unstoppable on both ends.
Can San Antonio get back up off the mat? Game five is must win for the Spurs, let's see if they have anything left to offer.