SAN ANTONIO — Having issued a personal challenge to himself before Game 4 of the NBA Finals, LeBron James upped the ante on Saturday.
“I think we’re well overdue when it’s time for us to win consecutive games,” James said. “I think it’s time. Enough is enough for our team.”
James and the Miami Heat will enter Game 5 of the NBA Finals Sunday night against the Spurs with a chance to win consecutive games for the first time since eliminating Chicago in Game 5 and then beating Indiana in overtime to open the Eastern Conference finals. The team that posted a 27-game winning streak during the regular season has alternated wins and losses for the past 10 games.
“No excuse why. It just hasn’t happened,” Dwyane Wade said. “But if we don’t do two, we won’t win a championship. The numbers don’t add up. We have to find a way to put a string together.”
The Heat will have the opportunity to decide the Finals on its home court regardless of what happens Sunday night. However, the memory of returning to Miami trailing 3-2 to the Dallas Mavericks in 2011 is still fresh in the players’ minds. The Mavs closed out that series in Game 6, and thus began the longest summer of James’ life.
James and the Heat are older and wiser now and are coming off their most impressive win of the postseason. James, Wade and Chris Bosh combined for 85 points in Miami’s 109-93 Game 4 victory, the day after James guaranteed that he would be at the top of his game.
The collective effort of Miami’s Big Three showed just how devastating the Heat can be when that All-Star trio is firing on all cylinders. It’s a troubling dilemma for the Spurs, who are playing their final home game of the season. It could be the last game for the Spurs’ core trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili since Ginobili’s struggles in the Finals have raised the possibility of retirement.
JOHN G. MABANGLO/EPA
Tim Duncan calls Game 5 a ‘must-win’ for the Spurs.
For a proud franchise that has won four titles dating back to 1999’s triumph over the Knicks, this could very well be the last stand.
“It is a must-win,” Duncan said. “We don’t want to go back down there down a game with two games remaining at their house. It is a must-win situation.
Obviously we lose this game, we’re not giving up or anything, but we want to go back up with a chance to finish there. Huge pressure if we have to go back there and try to win two.”
The Spurs have lost just four games this postseason, compared to six for Miami. However, San Antonio is limping to the finish line with Ginobili slumping and Parker not fully fit. The All-Star point guard is suffering from a strained right hamstring and is keeping his fingers crossed that his leg holds up for five more days.
“My hamstring can tear any time now,” he said. “So if it was the regular season, I would be resting like 10 days. But now it’s the NBA Finals. If it gets a tear, it’s life.”
Wade’s health has been an ongoing issue throughout the playoffs, but the former Finals MVP was back to his old self in Game 4, when he had 32 points, six rebounds, six steals and four assists. Meanwhile, Bosh snapped out of his funk with 20 points and 13 rebounds.
“It was good to see,” Wade said. “It was good to see Chris get out of his slump and really play the way he did on both ends of the floor. It was great to see LeBron be himself and just stay on the attack all night. I’m sure it was good to see me back to doing what I wanted to do and needed to do as well.
“That’s what we envisioned. It’s not easy to do that every night, but hopefully with three games left, hopefully we can be more consistent.”