We're staring at a best-of-three series for the NBA championship.
The San Antonio Spurs have won two games, one tight one led by Tony Parker and one blowout where Danny Green and Gary Neal -- Danny Green and Gary Neal! -- were the men of the hour. The Miami Heat have won two games, one legitimate blowout sparked by a Heat-esque 33-5 run in the third quarter and one game that just wasn't close at the end as Dwyane Wade played like Dwyane Wade for the first time in what seems like eons.
It's been brilliant. The Heat's defense has been nearly perfect, but Green and Neal have been able to get off despite barely even having glimpses at the rim. And the Spurs have packed the lane, but James and Wade found ways to score in Game 4. Each team punches, and each team counterpunches.
And now we have three games remaining for the NBA Championship. The team that wins Game 5 has a huge advantage, obviously. Here are three questions about the happenings in Game 5:
The Big How Many?
The Heat are damn near unstoppable if LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are all clicking. But they've rarely been clicking. Game 4 was only the third time Wade hit 20 points in the playoffs, and only the second time Bosh had 20 points.
As simple as it sounds, the trio needs to make jump shots. As Mike Prada wrote, the Spurs were giving James and Wade all the space they needed, and in Game 4, they took advantage, either nailing shots or building up a head of steam with the room provided by San Antonio. And the Spurs have made it clear they're fine with Chris Bosh spotting up from 19-ish feet rather than having him bang in the post.
If the superfriends all show up, nobody's beating Miami. James is the world's best player, Wade is hypothetically a superstar -- and played the part in Game 4 -- and Bosh is one of the better bigs in the NBA. Now they're in the NBA Finals, staring at a second straight title. Which of the three guys plays up to their potential?
Who turns the ball over?
I ask this question about every game, but it keeps ringing true: the team that's turned the ball over less has won every single game of the NBA Finals thus far, and it's not a trend that seems like it's going anywhere.
You aren't stopping the Miami Heat in transition. Once LeBron James starts running really fast in one direction with the ball, he's a bulldozer, and you're gonna need a brick wall or something to appear on the court to keep him from exerting his will on the rim. And Dwyane Wade made sure highlight reels feature him in some way with a nifty stepthrough for a dunk on a breakaway. Oh, and the Heat have like 47,000 three-point shooters that sprint to the corners in transition in case you actually manage to stop one of those two.
The Spurs coughed the ball up 16 and 18 times in their two losses, and 4 -- 4!!!! -- and 12 times in their two wins. They're crafty and smart, because they know that if they do stupid things Gregg Popovich will eat their brains out on the sidelines. The Heat were flustered a bit by San Antonio's lane-crowding defense and committed 16 turnovers in a Game 3 loss, but didn't crack double-digits in either of their two wins.
Whichever squad opts to hold onto the ball more frequently gets a huge advantage, but the series hasn't yet shown which squad is more likely to do so.
Will these teams keep hitting a bunch of threes, and does it matter?
In four games of the NBA Finals, we've had four instances of a team hitting 50 percent of its three-pointers. For an entire game. And twice, that team has lost: the Spurs went 10-for-20 from downtown in Game 2, and managed to lose thanks in part to a 10-for-19 performance from beyond the arc from the Heat, and the Spurs shot 8-for-16 from deep in Game 4, but couldn't keep pace with Miami.
You're supposed to hit 50 percent of your threes in, like, warmups, but in actual game situations, that isn't normal. That's 1.5 points per possession, which is like shooting 75 percent from inside the arc, which is pretty much impossible. Neal, Green, Kawhi Leonard, Ray Allen and Mike Miller have all caught fire, and none of them have shown any signs of going back to even a regular three-point percentage.
Which players stay fiery from beyond the arc, and which team actually manages to take advantage of it?
Here's the info on Game 5:
Game 5, NBA Finals, Miami Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs
Series tied, 2-2
Time: 8 p.m. Eastern
Location: AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas
Odds: Miami -1.5