News Column

Heat, Spurs Tip Off Tonight in Game 6

June 18, 2013

The Miami Heat try to stay alive in the NBA Finals when they play San Antonio tonight in Game 6 at 9 p.m. on ABC. The Spurs lead 3-2 in the series.

Heat defense must reassert itself: The Heat lost Game 5 because the Spurs shot 60 percent. Tim Duncan lived in the paint and Tony Parker broke down the defense while Danny Green was inexplicably open for several of his 3s. San Antonio is shooting 47.7 percent on 3s in the last four games. More than anyplace else, this is where the Heat's title defense will be decided.

Home-court energy: The Heat are 8-3 at home during the playoffs and 6-4 on the road. Home teams typically feed off the energy provided by the home crowd in big games. This was a huge boost for the Spurs, who got off to quick starts in all three home games in this series and had a 17-point lead in the second quarter of Game 5. Miami must do the same and jump on the Spurs from the start if it wants to extend this series.

Taming Danny Green: Even Parker wondered after Game 5 on Sunday how the Heat can continue to leave Green wide open. After all, with 25 three-pointers in the series, Green now has the all-time record for 3s made in the NBA Finals (the record of 19 had been held by Ray Allen). The Heat simply cannot let Green -- until recently a secondary figure in the Spurs' offense -- float around the 3-point arc and get open looks.

More from the role players: Aside from Allen, Miami got nothing from its role players lately. The biggest busts have been point guards Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole, erstwhile 3-point specialist Shane Battier and forward Udonis Haslem. The point guards need to figure out a way to limit Parker, Battier has to make the Spurs pay when he's open and Haslem has to get back to being nasty in the post.

Once again, LeBron: This is a storyline each time the Heat are in trouble. Can LeBron James bail them out? James has not had a great series but has dominated in spurts. He is shooting just 43.6 percent in the series after a career-best 56.5 percent during the regular season. James needs not only to get his teammates going but has to be as aggressive as possible.

Source: (c)2013 The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Fla.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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