Well… ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?! That was a Game 5 for the ages. We just saw two heavyweights throw countless haymakers at each other until the very end.
Everyone who whined about the match-up being boring after Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic’s injuries now have their lips zipped.
The Miami Heat won the all-out war 111-108 to live and fight another day as they made the NBA Finals series 3-2. The road is still long, but the momentum has swung their way again.
Let’s now look at a couple of things that factored into success and failure for both teams.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE HEAT?
Jimmy Butler’s takeover mode
Butler was just as aggressive in Game 4, but he inexplicably slowed down in the fourth quarter and it led to a loss.
In Game 5, he stepped on the gas early once more and never let up. After a 22-point first half, he topped it all off by burying two go-ahead baskets and going a perfect 4-for-4 from the charity stripe in the last two minutes. He finished with his second big-time triple-double in the series: 35 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists, and five steals.
‘Jimmy Buckets’ is a proven playoff performer who has classic veteran smarts and an I-don’t-give-a-you-know-what swagger. He is resolute in his belief about being able to beat anyone, and that showed today.
Duncan Robinson’s outside shooting
The Miami Heat were one of the best-rated three-point shooting teams in the regular season, and they continued that trend into the playoffs.
With Tyler Herro only having 12 modest points, though, it was the other sharpshooter that came through: Duncan Robinson. The former University of Michigan Wolverine went 7-for-13 from beyond the arc and tallied 26 big points, including that go-ahead triple with only 3:16 left.
Shooters rarely have conscience. They will unapologetically hoist threes whenever you give them a green light, so it’s a plus when they are coming off a red-hot performance. Robinson has had plenty of struggles in this year’s NBA Finals, so the Heat will be hoping he can continue that trend.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE LAKERS?
Anthony Davis’ lack of shots
Anthony Davis aggravated his ankle injury early in the first half, and though he was able to return, one can assume that it may have affected his game. However, Davis has been a bit passive over his last three, so much so that it may have caused the Lakers a game or two.
Following back-to-back 30-plus point performances to open up the series, where he was a combined 26-for-42 from the floor, the All-Star and borderline unstoppable big man has only attempted nine, 16, and 15 shots in Games 3, 4, and 5, respectively. He’s not assuming for more post touches too.
LeBron James deferring on that last play
LeBron James was attacking all game long, and like Butler, he too had a massive stat line: 40 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists, and three steals (15-for-21 FGs). He also mirrored Butler’s clutch fourth quarter play and converted on an and-one with 1:34 remaining to give them the lead.
But then, on the biggest play of the game, he deferred yet again. He had the ball with only 16.8 seconds left and trailing by just one, made a good drive, had a relatively clear shot, and decided to kick it out to Danny Green, who’s been hot-and-cold in the postseason (mostly cold) – yes, Green was wide open, but at that stage of the game with that kind of look, James has to take that shot.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR GAME 6
- The Heat have stolen the momentum back. They’ll be more confident than ever, so expect them to shoot with bad intentions. Whether they hit their shots or not is another matter.
- LeBron poured all of his energy into this game and it ended in defeat. Don’t be shocked if he plays slow again. We’ve seen it in the past, like Game 2 of the 2018 finals, right after he had that 51-point outburst in the Game 1 loss.
- Davis again hurt his foot in Game 5. He’s had foot injuries multiple times since the Western Conference Finals now, but he’s always been able to return to the game. Will they add up and hobble him in what is guaranteed to be a scrappy Game 6?