Coming into Game 5 of the NBA Finals, it’s all hands on deck for the Miami Heat. After stealing Game 2, in Denver, they were thoroughly outplayed on their homecourt in Games 3 and 4. The Heat have been counted out throughout this playoff run, but it does feel a little different this time. Their role players aren’t hitting clutch shots like they were in prior rounds, and even Jimmy Butler just isn’t playing with the same level of efficiency. Denver is up 3-1 and all 3 of their wins have come by double digits.
Having said all of that, the Heat won in Denver in Game 2, won games in Milwaukee, and of course won 3 games in Boston, including a dominant showing in Game 7. They clearly have the mental fortitude to put a great game together and extend this series. For that to happen, however, a lot of things need to go their way. In Game 2, the only game the Heat won in this series, multiple role players stepped up in a major way. Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, and even Duncan Robinson stepped up. They scored a combined 47 points and collectively hit 10 3-pointers! In a 3 point game, they don’t win without all of them stepping up and consistently hitting clutch shots. So, role players have to step up. They also need to be better defensively. They may not be able to score in the 110 point range, given that they’ve scored 95 or less points in 3 of the 4 games so far this series. The defense needs to be better. They can’t let Jokic and Murray run right through them. It’s easier said than done, obviously, but it has to be all hands on deck to slow them down and make someone else beat them.
However, it all may be a moot point if Jimmy Butler doesn’t step up in a big way. Butler has been fantastic in the playoffs, but he’s taken a step back in this series. The Nuggets have keyed on him and have forced him to rely on other players. We’ve seen Butler take over games and will the Heat to wins in the playoffs, and today is a perfect time for him to strike again.
If the Heat have shown us anything, it’s that they still have plenty of fight in them. It’ll take all the fight they have to extend the series and the NBA season.