Game Five between the Spurs and Rockets did not disappoint. The Rockets looked menacing early, but it all fell apart late in the game as Danny Green and Manu Ginobilli stood up.
With the series level at 2-2, from the outside, it seemed like Spurs v Rockets was a great matchup. Yet in every game, it seemed like one team just didn't show up. That all changed in game five where the fans were finally treated to a tight game. There were several microcosms that ultimately decided the game.
Manu turns back the clock with a block
Manu Ginobili didn't look a day over 25 as he got to the rim aggressively and sunk the Rockets with an impressive 12 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. He managed to stand up every time the Spurs needed a push, and he was arguably their most important player down the stretch.
Ginobili took the game to overtime as he got to the rim with relative ease in the final minute.
This was the moment of the game. James Harden was ultimately dreadful in overtime, but less experienced players may have fouled Harden here. Not Ginobili; this block was as clean as it gets.
MANU GINOBILI blocks James Harden to seal @spurs Game 5 win! ?? #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/2Z1UfCOoBI
— NBA TV (@NBATV) May 10, 2017
Harden gets cooking, then comes to a halt
Harden haters relished the fourth quarter and overtime shot selection from the superstar. He continually wasted the shot clock only to brick a difficult three. In overtime, when he looked to drive and dish, he fumbled and turned the ball over three times in five minutes.
However, it was a completely different story in the first half. He continually found a way to make David Lee switch onto him early. Harden took one look at him, danced around with the ball and swished two pull-up threes in a row. He finished the first half with 23 points, eight rebounds and five assists in the first half, and made Trevor Ariza an offensive threat on the pick and pop.
Aldridge fails to fire
In the first three-quarters, Ryan Anderson managed to guide LaMarcus Aldridge towards the help defense when the star Spur posted up, and as a result, he was forced to pass the ball rather than look for a shot. That went out the window in the final quarter when Kawhi Leonard barely played.
Aldridge continually tried to shoot awkward fadeaways over smaller players and looked entirely predictable. He finished the night with 18 points and 14 rebounds, but he made just seven of his 21 shots. For a player who was perhaps one of the top five pick and pop scorers we have seen in the last 10 years, Aldridge never looked to switch up his plan of attack.
Green is having himself a series
Danny Green doesn't have the eye-popping numbers, but he's playing terrific defense and coming up when the Spurs really need him. In game five, his 16 points came off the back of 4-8 from downtown. He scored seven-straight points in overtime for the Spurs and was the difference maker in the end.
Lou Williams and Eric Gordon were 1-11 from behind the arc, and that was partly due to Green's ability to close out effectively. At times, the three ball was deadly for the Rockets, but late in the game, Green's presence forced Gordon to take some dreadful deep looks.
Injuries could really swing this series
The Rockets only used seven players in game five after losing Nene to a thigh injury. Clint Capela and Ryan Anderson did a really good job at covering the loss for the most part, but the Spurs ended up with 18 offensive rebounds (nine from Aldridge), while the Rockets finished with just half that. It seems likely that Montrezl Harrell won't get many minutes in the rest of this series either as Mike D'Antoni lacks the trust in his younger players.
Leonard injured his ankle halfway through the third term, then only played very small amounts after that. The game was there for the taking, but the Rockets failed to capitalize when Leonard was off the floor. The rest of the series may hinge on the severity of Leonard's injury, however, in a post-game interview, Leonard said he is "going to be able to play" in game six.
Capela turns defense into offense
Capela hosted a block party in the second quarter with three denials coming within a few minutes of each other. Perhaps what was most important was that Capela was able to guide his blocks to his teammates. Within 45 seconds of each other, the Rockets recorded five fast break points from Capela's great work.