Spurs lead Heat 61-52 at halftime of Finals Game 5

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SAN ANTONIO — We’ve got another good one here in San Antonio, where the Spurs came out with aggression and were able to contain a late run from the heat to take a 61-52 lead into halftime of Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

The Spurs made a change to their starting lineup in this one, inserting Manu Ginobili in favor of the previously ineffective Tiago Splitter. The move paid immediate dividends, as Ginobili set the tone with his aggression and had seven points and three assists in the game’s first five and a half minutes.

Once he took a seat on the bench, Tony Parker got San Antonio out to a big lead by attacking the paint time and again, particularly against Norris Cole, and getting to the rim for easy scores or trips to the free throw line.

Miami largely was settling for jumpers early on, and that was due to the Spurs packing the paint and making the right rotations defensively. That helped the Spurs end the first quarter on a 15-2 run to take control of the game.

San Antonio extended its lead to as many as 17 points in the second, before the Heat began to climb back into it. A 12-0 run in a two-minute span showcased what the Heat do best, which is getting out in transition and swinging the ball to the open shooters in the halfcourt sets. LeBron James started getting into the post and scoring inside, and the run was highlighted by a monster dunk on the break from James, and a four-point play from Ray Allen.

The half ended with a drive from Parker right down the middle of the lane for a reverse lay-in right before the buzzer.

Th Spurs are getting balanced scoring from everyone, with four starters in double figures and Kawhi Leonard one point shy of joining the club. For the Heat, it’s LeBron, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh doing the bulk of the damage, with the team doing its best work in this game once Erik Spoelstra held both of his point guards out of the lineup at the same time.

Miami’s Big Three finished the half with 40 of the team’s 52 points, and you get the feeling that a special performance from LeBron or Wade — or possibly both — is going to be required for the Heat to end up pulling this one out.

Dwyane Wade says Bulls’ showers had no hot water in Boston

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The Bulls suffered a rough loss in Boston last night.

It didn’t get better afterward.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:

Celtics general manager Danny Ainge – who played for Boston in the 80s – pleaded ignorance to any nefarious plumbing:

I think the idea that teams plot to shut off the visitor’s hot water is often overstated. Arenas have complex infrastructure, and things can go wrong on their own. Sometimes, the home team loses hot water, but that never gets remembered.

But reasonable excuses don’t make a cold shower in the moment any more tolerable.

Robin Lopez pushes short floater over backboard (video)

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Robin Lopez had reason to be upset from the Bulls’ Game 5 loss to the Celtics last night.

This miss was all on him.

Dwyane Wade plays the laziest defense you’ll ever see (video)

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Dwyane Wade (26 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists) was the Bulls’ best player in their Game 5 loss to the Celtics last night.

But the 35-year-old guard clearly didn’t go all out on every possession.

Players can justify not closing out by claiming they were prioritizing rebounding position. Wade clearly has no such excuse.

Video Breakdown: Clippers use JJ Redick in split cut to fool Jazz at 3-point line

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The Los Angeles Clippers dropped Game 5 to the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night, and find themselves down 3-2 as they head back to Salt Lake City for Game 6. The Clippers have had to deal with Utah’s formidable defense, so much so that they’ve built in counters to Jazz defenders overplaying shooters like JJ Redick.

One example of this countering method could be found in Game 3, when the Clippers ran a split cut for Redick. Instead of fighting endlessly around screens for a 3-point shot as you might expect, LA took the easy route and simply cut Redick to the basket for an easy layup as a means to take advantage of an overeager defender.

We’ve talked about the Split Cut here on NBA Playbook before. The Los Angeles Lakers used it earlier in the season to beat the Golden State Warriors, the team that uses the split cut perhaps the most out of any team in the NBA.

Other teams, including the Portland Trail Blazers, have adapted the Warriors’ use of the split cut as a counter for their own offense this season, which is a testament to just how useful it is.

If you need a reminder, a split cut all about a screener coming up to screen, then cutting toward the basket before his screen action fully takes place. It’s about timing, and catching defenders off guard when they go to set up their recover positions for screens.

For a full breakdown on the split cut and how the Clippers used it, watch the video above.