Entering Game Five, the question among Spurs fans was just how much Manu Ginobili had left in his tank. Was the Ginobili who averaged 7.5 points per game and shot 34.5 percent and seemed like he was forcing everything to do what he used to be able to do was the Ginobili of now and the Ginobili the Spurs would have for the remainder of this series.
Or would it be the Ginobili that entered the starting lineup for the first time on Sunday night and put on one of the great resurrections in NBA Finals history.
From his first shot, a step-back jumper with his toe on the line, this was a different Ginobili. A Ginobili capable of scoring and passing at will and flying easily into the lane.
Manu Ginobili set the tone on his way to 24 points and 10 assists on 8-for-14 shooting. Danny Green finished it off as San Antonio used a 19-1 run in the third quarter to take the lead and hold off Miami 114-104 in Game Five of the NBA Finals, taking a critical 3-2 series lead heading back to South Florida.
San Antonio finally got the big game from its "big three" in this series that led to almost complete domination. Tim Duncan had 17 points and 12 rebounds. Tony Parker added 26 points and five assists. Having Ginobili add his 24 and 10 just seemed to be gravy.
It set the table for what became Danny Green's record-setting performance. Green broke Ray Allen's record for most 3-pointers made in the NBA Finals. Green scored 24 points himself, making 6 of 10 3-pointers.
It was how he got many of those 3-pointers that should have Miami extremely worried. The Heat lost Green, a player who was already on a hot streak and more than capable of hitting 3-pointers, time and time again. He was not just hitting 3-pointers, he was hitting open 3-pointers.
San Antonio, as a team, made 60 percent of their shots and 9 of 22 3-pointers. For a Heat team that builds everything off their defensive effort, those are embarrassing and puzzling numbers.
Miami lost despite solid parallel efforts from LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Each had 25 points with James shooting 8 for 22 and Wade shooting 10 for 22. Wade was aggressive once again with a spring in his step. James had that eye too until it seemed like he had to force things to help his team withstand the 3-point barrage. James' struggles shooting in the second half could not have come at a worse time for the Heat. He could not be the savior this time.
Even with Ray Allen making 3-pointers — he was 4 for 4 from beyond the arc and the Heat were 11 for 23 — it was only enough to help keep the score respectable at the end. Maybe that along with James and Wade's scoring output means the Heat still have some life if they can get it all together at home.
However, this refreshed Spurs team looked like the better team. They certainly had the most to lose with the next two games in Miami.
The Heat have their backs against the walls. And the supposedly old school Spurs have put them to it by beating them at their own game, racing out on the break and going small right back at the Heat.