Stars finally arrive on same page in NBA Finals

Miami Heat's LeBron James looks up as he walks with San Antonio Spurs' Tim Duncan during the fourth...

Miami Heat's LeBron James looks up as he walks with San Antonio Spurs' Tim Duncan during the fourth quarter in Game 5 on Sunday in San Antonio, Tex. (REUTERS)

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:29 AM ET

Before the NBA Finals started, we were convinced the supporting casts were going to be left to decide this series.

The logic supporting that stance, flawed as it was, was that the two teams were such stout defenders that the key guys would be blanketed and get so much attention it would leave the scoring to others.

Well, five games in the stats suggest otherwise ... for the most part.

San Antonio’s Big Three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and to a lesser extent Manu Ginobili were at their collective best in Game 1, a Spurs win.

Game 2 wasn’t necessarily dominant by any single player or trio but LeBron James’ 17 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and three blocks and steals were plenty good enough to give him the title of most dominant.

Game 3 was the one game this series that the backups really did take over as Danny Green and Gary Neal stole the spotlight with a barrage of three pointers that made the Heat defence look positively sieve-like.

Game 4 was all Miami’s Big Three. Dwyane Wade, who had not made much of a mark at all in these playoffs had a 32-point night. James made good on his promise of being better with his own series high water mark of 33 points. Even Chris Bosh put numbers up after a disappearing act in the first three games, going off for 20 and 13 rebounds.

In Game 5, for the first time this series, both Big Threes showed up. The Spurs’ biggest names combined for 67 points. Miami’s had 66. Not surprisingly, the decision went San Antonio’s way in a 114-104 victory allowing the Spurs to head to Miami needing one more win to close out the Heat.

And now, barring injury, all basketball fans are in for a treat because both Big Threes are in their respective starting fives with San Antonio’s decision to take Ginobili off the bench and play him alongside Duncan and Parker.

Turns out Ginobili’s starting assignment was good for both himself and Duncan.

Ginobili, in the Spurs’ starting lineup for the first time this entire season, had already made his series average in points scored by the end of the first quarter.

By the end of three he had 20 points and he finished with 24.

But just as important as those points was his ability to get Duncan’s post game back to where it has to be for the Spurs to win.

In this endeavor he was ably assisted by none other than Boris Diaw, a guy who is the subject or more fat jokes than one-time Blue Jay David Wells ever was.

But Diaw, very much like Wells, is extremely light on his feet for a big man and like Wells he can deliver a ball, in this case a basketball, where he wants it.

Both men were on the court with the starters for a good chunk of the first half and seemed to make it their mission to get the ball inside to Duncan with plenty of success.

It wasn’t the only reason the Spurs were in control after three quarters, but it made San Antonio’s Big Three at least as productive as Miami’s Big Three have been this series.

WELL-EARNED RECOGNITION

Diaw is fearless throwing the ball inside when Duncan is the target. Midway through the first quarter he threw back-to-back passes into a covered Duncan that led to a Miami foul and then a pair of Duncan free throws after Duncan made the catch on the second one. We’re as guilty as anyone in the media for the mocking Diaw gets for his girth, but there is definitely something to be said for his experience and knowledge of what works in the NBA. And if you weren’t convinced with those two passes, the one to a cutting Kawhi Leonard in the second to extend the Spurs’ run to 12-0 was just as nice.

THEY'RE GETTING THERE

Game 5 and it feels like the ABC crew of Magic Johnson, Mike Wilbon, Jalen Rose and Bill Simmons have finally found its groove. Early on, everything seemed forced or even rehearsed. Now it’s feeling natural as Rose goes to Magic, who makes his point and throws it over to Simmons. They’re still not as entertaining as the TNT crew, but they are certainly not as awkward as they were when the series began.

BRIEFLY

A big moment in the game came when Miami had the lead down to four and James on a run out with just Green between himself and the basket. Somehow Green blocked the first attempt, but James, who follows his misses as good as anybody in the game, went up for another attempt and with Diaw pestering him, missed the gimme. The Spurs went right back down the court and Parker stretches the lead to six again with one of his patented tear drops ... If you weren’t already headed for the fridge at the end of the half, you may have seen Green, the man who owns the mark for most threes in a Finals with 25 and counting, almost run over a child as he raced down the hallways of the AT&T Center following his interview with Doris Burke. It being Father’s Day, Duncan had his kids with him. Only Green’s quick reflexes saved the Spurs from a bad incident ... Loved Gregg Popovich’s pre-game speech. In part Pop told his team: “Game 5 in our house. I want aggression. I want physicality. We can be a lot smarter.” Short and to the point. That’s Popovich and predictably his demands were answered.


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