SAN ANTONIO — You had to know the two-time defending champion Miami Heat had too much pride to just roll over. They were going to come out ready to defend their title down 3-1 and needing a win just to force a Game 6.
And they did — Miami played the best, most energized and aggressive defense they have played all playoffs, LeBron James came out on fire with 17 first quarter points and the Heat raced out to a 19-5 lead, the biggest lead the Heat have had all Finals.
But Miami has had spurts of great execution all season and through these Finals, the issue has been sustaining it against a relentless Spurs team.
They couldn’t. San Antonio climbed back, slowly at first behind Manu Ginobili (a 6-0 personal run at one point, a poster dunk on Chris Bosh later) and later with a 17-2 run sparked by Kawhi Leonard (15 first half points).
The Spurs lead 47-40 at the half and are 24 minutes from an NBA title.
This feels like a game San Antonio could just blow open in the third.
Miami has 20 points from LeBron on 6-of-12 shooting, they have 20 points on 7-of-22 shooting from everyone else. Numbers reminiscent of Game 4.
Ginobili had 14 for the Spurs, who shot 50 percent in the second quarter as they moved the ball and got good looks (the Heat sharp rotations from the opening six minutes were gone). The Heat shot 26.7 percent in the second.
San Antonio got 22 points from its bench in the first half, the Heat got 2. Not enough depth to sustain the energy levels Miami needs, but they need to find some way in the second half or this could get ugly.