October 10, 2020, 2:59 am
The Miami Heat live to fight another day, Sunday to be exact, after a thrilling 111-108 Game 5 win over the Lakers on Friday. Both teams gave us some truly exciting basketball action. From superstars, LeBron James and Jimmy Butler going at it, exchanging buckets and key plays, one after another, to role-players like Duncan Robinson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope making clutch threes at key junctures in the game, Game 5 had it all.
To be perfectly honest, Game 5’s result took me by surprise. I had the Lakers taking it, especially considering their string of 4-1 series victories throughout the playoffs. That said, I’m happy to see that NBA fans, yours truly included will be treated to another game (or two).
For obvious reasons, props have to out to Jimmy Butler, who put up a superb performance to lead his team with 35 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists and five steals. However, we would not be talking about the possibility, or in this case, actuality, of a Game 6 if it wasn’t for the heroic play of one Duncan Robinson. The previously statistically quiet Robinson woke up in last night’s game and found his rhythm. With said rhythm, Robinson rained down a total of seven 7 3-pointers on the Lakers en route to his 26 points for the game. Now not only did Robinson account for half of his team’s treys in this one, but he also was able to keep a level head and played his part on the defensive end of the floor. He was clutch, retaining his composure to secure a 4-point play on a Kyle Kuzma foul in the fourth and keeping the Heat championship torch still burning.
On the other end of the floor, the Lakers may have lost Game 5 on a miss by one of their sharpshooters, Danny Green. With seconds ticking down on the clock, LeBron James made the key play of dishing the ball to an open Green who was at the top of the key. It was the right decision and the correct call. Unfortunately, Green missed the go-ahead bucket and the Heat were able to hold on for the victory. We’ve seen Green’s missed shot made in so many other Finals series, by the likes of John Paxson and Ray Allen. Sadly for Laker fans, it just wasn’t in the cards for them tonight. No one can fault LeBron for passing the ball to Green either, because it was a solid move – their best chance to win. The shot just didn’t fall.
Speaking of James, he was fantastic tonight, for what it’s worth. He had a game-high 40 points on six 3-pointers and 15-of-21 shooting from the field, adding 13 rebounds, seven assists and three steals of his own.
Anthony Davis, who aggravated his right heel contusion early in the game, resulting in a brief trip to the locker room, ended the night with 28 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, three steals and three blocks on the night. He was moving a bit gingerly at times after his return, so it looks like he’ll be in for another stint on the Laker injury report, but that’s been as certain as Death and Taxes over the playoffs (and most of the season) anyway.
As much focus and emphasis that has been laid on the likes of James, Davis and Butler, this series won’t really be decided by those stars. Seriously. With all due respect to LeBron, whom I regard as the better player in the first place, James and Butler cancel each other out for the most part. Davis has been an X-factor that the Heat haven’t been able to solve, but have managed to play around, by their shift towards more and more outside shooting, counting on Bam Adebayo and a team effort on the glass to offset as much of AD’s mismatch as they can.
This series will come down to the teams’ role-players. Case in point, Duncan Robinson and his amazing performance tonight. When a role-player can wake from a low-impact string of games and deliver such a game, it becomes such a swing factor that it alters the complexion of the game completely. Conversely, if Danny Green made his wide-open shot, we wouldn’t be having this conversation – not this way, at least – and instead, this article will be extolling the Lakes’ amazing run and celebrating their 17 NBA title.
Robinson will need to do what he did tonight again on Sunday, if the Heat want to keep on fighting and force a Game 7. Because even if Jimmy Butler is going to bring it, which he’s already been doing this whole series, LeBron’s going to bring it too. Whether it be actually Robinson or be Tyler Herro, Kendrick Nunn or even Jae Crowder, it doesn’t really matter who does it but one (ideally more of them) of them needs to bring the “Duncan Robinson Effect” in Game 6 on Sunday.