NBA Finals 2013: 6 minutes of hell for LeBron James, Heat offense


Over six minutes in the second half, the Heat went from down one to down 20. LeBron James played every second of it. What happened to Miami's offense?

All told, the Miami Heat offense did its job in Game 5. The Heat scored 104 points in 93 possessions, which is quite good against a defense as strong as that of the San Antonio Spurs. Miami just couldn't stop a relentless, varied and potent Spurs attack. San Antonio shot 60 percent from the floor, 40 percent from beyond the arc and 80 percent on free throws. There's little chance Miami could survive that without doing the same thing on offense.

And a six-minute spell spanning parts of the third and fourth quarters guaranteed that the Heat offense wouldn't end up with offensive numbers like the Spurs'.

The Heat trailed 75-74 with three minutes left in the third quarter. San Antonio would score 21 points over the next 12 possessions. Miami would score two. And it wasn't because LeBron James rested -- he played every second. But he couldn't crack the puzzle of Boris Diaw, and his teammates didn't do much to help.

Here's what happened to Miami's offense over those six minutes.

More Game 5 coverage: Hot Hot Hoops Pounding the Rock

* A Dwyane Wade baseline turnaround jumper is blocked by Manu Ginobili. This is a bad shot. After a Spurs score, Wade exits the game.

* LeBron gets into the lane from a face-up position, but misses the runner over Diaw. The Frenchman stopped James from getting all the way to the rim, forcing a tougher shot.

* The next time down, Chris Bosh mishandles a good LeBron pass on a side pick-and-roll. The ball squirts out of bounds. Bosh exits. Miami now trails, 83-74. The Heat have LeBron, Norris Cole, Udonis Haslem, Shane Battier and Ray Allen on the floor.

* Cole dribbles through and once under the rim, delivers a pass to Haslem's foot. Haslem's foot mishandles it. Mike Miller replaces Ray.

* LeBron drives on Diaw, gets into the lane and is hammered by Tiago Splitter. He hits one of two from the line. The Heat trail by 10 ... until Manu answers.

* Shane Battier misses a midcourt heave at the buzzer, and the quarter ends with the Spurs up 12. Miami has gone 0-3 with two turnovers in six possessions to end the third. It's not over. Not even close.

* Ray Allen decides to dribble-drive from the left elbow. He gets to the rim, but Splitter gets a piece of the layup.

* LeBron tries to drive on Diaw, but is forced to pull up. He misses the baseline jumper. Wade and Bosh return to the court, replacing Haslem and Battier.

* LeBron gets the ball deep in the paint, is doubled hard and passes to Wade, who misses a contested layup in the lane. Tim Duncan is credited with a block. Kawhi Leonard hits a three on the other end, and the Spurs are now up 17.

* LeBron drives on Diaw, but is forced to take a short jumper he misses. He gets his own rebound, but misses another short shot with Duncan defending well. Duncan gets a putback bucket on the other end, and Erik Spoelstra takes a full timeout.

* Diaw is called for a foul on the Miami inbounds pass. This is his reaction.

Hurry up with my damn croissant

Chalmers splits the free throws.

* Wade takes a 15-footer off the dribble. It's a pretty terrible shot.

After all of that, Ray Allen takes over to make the fourth somewhat interesting. But the damage has been done: Miami trails 96-76 after a 21-2 San Antonio run over six minutes and 17 seconds. In the span, Miami's offense shot 0-for-9 with two turnovers, 2-for-4 FTs, one offensive rebound. None of that is good. Two points in 12 possessions. That's sooo bad.

Wade made a couple of terrible offensive decisions in the few possessions during the run in which he was in the game. Bosh had a really bad turnover. Cole let a bad decision turn into a bad turnover.

But the lasting image of the run, at least on the Miami end of the floor, is of LeBron facing up on Boris Diaw four times and getting one point out of it. He couldn't crack the puzzle in time to save the Heat in Game 5.

Diaw is big, strong and smart. He became a laughingstock in recent years because he fell apart physically and his once-famous offensive skills faded into memory in desolate Charlotte. Diaw's bigger than most opponents who guard LeBron, but he had enough quickness to also stay in front of LeBron. James may have been tired. (He had played all but three minutes to that point.) A couple of times, Diaw took contact without fouling and forced James into a tough pull-up instead of a layup or dunk. And as has happened all series long, the Spurs largely avoided putting LeBron on the line. Diaw didn't even have any close calls in terms of missed whistles: he played LeBron straight up without hacking.

But here's the thing: with Wade and Bosh sitting, and with a fairly offense-deficient lineup on the court with him for most of the run, LeBron didn't really have any better options than to try to drive on Diaw. Who on the court was LeBron supposed to run even a pick-and-roll with? Haslem with LeBron as the ball handler? That's a recipe for getting trapped. Cole with LeBron as the screener? That's a recipe for a Cole pull-up. You'd have to liked to see Ray breaking off screens away from the ball, or LeBron to pull Diaw further from the rim. But nothing about the six-minute span showed a meager LeBron, a defeated LeBron, a weak-willed LeBron. It was simply a well-defended LeBron. A somewhat flummoxed LeBron. A LeBron who tried to carry the Heat, but could not against this opponent at this moment.

Nothing about the six-minute span showed a meager LeBron, a defeated LeBron, a weak-willed LeBron. It was simply a well-defended LeBron.

It's a testament more to San Antonio's resourcefulness on the court and off and Miami's frequent outages than anything else. And the game as a whole was a microcosm of the Heat's postseason: stunning defensive struggles and total mystery as to which non-LeBron Heat scorers will step up. (Wade, Bosh and Allen were the ones this time.)

But again, San Antonio is playing LeBron perfectly, and changing the method every night. Does Gregg Popovich have one more gameplan to pull out of his hat, or is Diaw going to get another chance to lasso the MVP in Game 6? The world is watching to see how LeBron responds.

More from SB Nation:

Flannery: Finally, The Manu Game | How the Spurs won

Spurs take Game 5, now just one win from the title

GIF: Danny Green foils LeBron's fast break

Interview: Behind the lens of Team Wade

NBA mock draft: Best-case scenarios | Scouting reports | Big Board

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