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There has been only one dramatic contest in the NBA Finals, which has become a best-of-3 series as the San Antonio Spurs host the Miami Heat in Sunday’s Game 5. The Spurs won a close game in the opener and put a 36-point drubbing on the Heat in Game 3, while Miami’s two victories have been by 19 and 16 points. Tony Parker’s hamstring is an issue for the Spurs, while the Heat crave another big effort from Dwyane Wade.
Wade rediscovered his form with a spectacular performance (32 points, six steals) in Game 4 that was easily his best of a postseason in which he has been severely hampered by a knee injury. “He’s willing to go out there and compete for his teammates and open himself up for criticism with expectations of something bigger,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He’s giving us everything he has, and (Thursday) he was able to dig deeper and go to another place that we needed.” Parker has a strained right hamstring and revealed Saturday that it could tear at any time and that he would be sidelined for about 10 days if it were the regular season. Parker is hopeful that the two full days off between games will allow him to play better Sunday after he gave a substandard performance in Game 4.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ABC
ABOUT THE HEAT: Forward LeBron James had his best outing of the series with 33 points in Game 4, but his performance was just the third-most crucial behind those of Wade and center Chris Bosh. After a largely ineffective postseason, Bosh suddenly has three consecutive double-doubles and his 20 points matched his high of the postseason. He grabbed 13 rebounds and is averaging 14.3 points and 9.5 rebounds in the finals. “I don’t know really what the difference has been with Chris,” Spoelstra said. “All we know is we need it.” James was 15-of-25 from the field in Game 4 after going a combined 21-for-54 over the first three games.
ABOUT THE SPURS: Veteran guard Manu Ginobili is struggling through a woeful series. The 35-year-old Ginobili has scored seven or fewer points in each of the last three games and is averaging 7.5 points and shooting 34.5 percent from the field. “He’s having a tough playoffs, and hasn’t really found a rhythm or found his game yet,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “I think that he’s obviously not as confident as usual, and he knows full well he hasn’t performed the way he would like and the way he’s used to.” Power forward Tim Duncan is doing his part with two 20-point scoring games and three double-digit performances and guard Danny Green is 19-for-28 from 3-point range while averaging 16.5 points.
1. The NBA Finals has been tied 2-2 on 27 previous occasions with the Game 5 winner claiming the title 20 times.
2. After matching the NBA Finals record with four turnovers in Game 1, San Antonio has committed 49 over the last three games.
3. Bosh was fined $5,000 for flopping in Game 4 after being lightly bumped by Duncan.
PREDICTION: Spurs 101, Heat 93