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Spurs Considering Game 5 a “Must-Win”
Posted By Alex Kennedy On June 16, 2013 @ 2:00 pm In NBA | No Comments
This definition was printed on small, laminated cards and placed at every cubicle in the San Antonio Spurs locker room last week. In this back-and-forth NBA Finals series – in which the Spurs have won the odd-numbered games and the Miami HEAT have won the even – fortitude will likely determine the 2013 champion.
Much is made of the fact that Miami hasn’t lost consecutive games since January 8-10, when they dropped contests against the Indiana Pacers and Portland Trail Blazers. However, San Antonio hasn’t lost consecutive games in which their Big Three of Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili all played since December 12-13, when they were beat by the Utah Jazz and those same pesky Trail Blazers.
The Spurs realize that they desperately need to continue that streak on Sunday night, bouncing back from their Game 4 loss and getting a much-needed Game 5 victory before heading back to Miami.
After being on the receiving end of a beat down in Game 3, several members of the HEAT said that the following game would be a “must-win.” After they bounced back and won Game 4 in convincing fashion, head coach Erik Spoelstra said that his team understood that it “was a survival game.”
Now, it’s the Spurs’ turn to describe the following contest as a must-win game. The Spurs realize how difficult it will be if Game 6 is an elimination game against the HEAT in their building, especially since Miami would have the closest thing to momentum that there has been in this series. Also, history wouldn’t be on their side considering that no team has won Games 6 and 7 on the road in the NBA Finals since the 2-3-2 format was implemented in 1985.
Ginobili was the first to call Game 5 a “must-win” several days ago, and his teammates agree with the characterization.
“It is a must‑win,” Duncan said. “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.”
“I agree, it’s a must‑win,” Parker said. “That’s why you play basketball, to live those moments. It’s a great opportunity for us. It’s a big game. We have to win. Simple as that.”
“Yeah, it’s a must‑win,” Gary Neal said. “It’s Game 5. It’s the next game and it’s a 2‑2 series. We would love to be going back to Miami up 3‑2. That’s our goal right now. That’s all we’re focusing on is Game 5. We feel it’s a must‑win. Not in a negative way as far as putting pressure on ourselves or coming out there with a whole bunch of weight on our shoulders. We know it’s an important game. It’s important for us if we want to get to where we want to be. Game 5 is huge for us.”
San Antonio was 35-6 at home during the regular season and 6-1 at home during the playoffs, so losing two out of three games at home during the Finals would be an immense disappointment.
If we’ve learned anything from this series, it’s that the Spurs must limit their turnovers in order to be successful. When they’ve done that, they’ve won. When they’ve turned the ball over and allowed the HEAT to score off of those turnovers, they’ve lost.
In their two wins, they have averaged just 8.0 turnovers. In their two losses, they have averaged 17 turnovers (which is significantly higher than their postseason average of 12.3). The team has seen the numbers, and turnovers have been the first thing most players point to on the stat sheet after losses.
“That’s what they’ve been doing all year,” Danny Green said. “They’re a great defensive team. They’re a championship team. Obviously, that’s why they won it last year. They’re long and athletic, and they get after it.”
“We’re going to do what we do,” Parker said of the team’s approach heading into Game 5. “We’re going to move the ball and play Spurs basketball. We have to understand they’re going to be in passing lanes, we have to be smarter with the ball, stronger with the ball and make better decisions.”
The Spurs must be able to limit their turnovers – or at least have the fortitude to overcome such mistakes – in order to keep their streak of wins following losses alive for one more game.
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