We could talk about the incredible ball movement of the San Antonio Spurs. We could talk about their flawless execution or about how Kawhi Leonard has outplayed LeBron James on both ends of the floor in Games 3 and 4. We could talk about how Tim Duncan is now the NBA’s all-time leader in playoff minutes and double-doubles. We could even talk about how much is at stake for LeBron’s legacy in this series. But instead, we need to talk about how the Miami Heat are one mediocre performance away from losing the 2014 NBA Finals and missing the three-peat.
At this point in the series, it’s easy to say the Spurs have unequivocally been the better team. We already knew they had the deeper team and that their offense would be tough to stop, but the execution has been exemplary to the point that it’s made Miami’s defense look old and, in the words of the immortal Bobby Ramos, “lackluster.” We all knew Miami had the best player in the series, but so far he hasn’t played like it and thanks to two back-to-back double-digit victories, the Spurs are one game away from avenging last year’s devastating Finals defeat.
No NBA finals team has ever comeback from a 3-1 deficit since the championship series began. That’s what’s at stake for the Heat, starting with Game 5 on Sunday. LeBron James is one game away from being 2-3 in the NBA Finals and having to seriously consider leaving Miami in the offseason. Four straight Finals appearances is an incredible achievement, but a team with three of the top five picks in the loaded 2003 NBA Draft didn’t come together to go 2-2 on the big stage. Here’s what the Miami Heat need to do to stave off elimination in Game 5 on the road.