SAN ANTONIO — After falling to the Spurs in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Sunday, the Miami Heat find themselves in a most uncomfortable position.
In order to win the championship that they were heavily favored to at the outset of the postseason, they’ll need to accomplish something that they haven’t been able to in almost a month, during a streak which has now reached 12 straight games.
Much was made heading into Game 5 of the fact that, for whatever reason, Miami has been unable to string together two straight victories since closing out the Bulls in the second round of the playoffs, and then taking the first game against the Pacers back on May 22.
A very confident LeBron James, you may recall, had declared that it was time for this little streak to come to an end.
“I think it’s time,” James said. “I think we’re well overdue where it’s time for us to win consecutive games. I think we’re at 11 or 12 straight consecutive win‑loss, win‑loss, win‑loss. I think it’s time. Enough is enough for our team. I’m not saying it’s going to result in us having a win, but we need to play with the same sense of urgency as if we were down 2‑1 or whatever the case may be [Sunday] night. And we can’t wait around.”
It didn’t happen, though, and clearly the Spurs had plenty to do with that. But Miami’s inability to impose their will and execute to the level the team is capable of in consecutive contests has to be a concern now that they trail three games to two, and the only way to the championship is to somehow find a way to get it done.
Playing on their home floor for two straight might help that cause.
“That’s the position we’re in,” LeBron James said following his team’s Game 5 loss. “The most important game is Game 6. We can’t worry about a Game 7. We have to worry about Game 6 and going back home, being confident about our game, being confident about getting a win, which we are. So it is what it is. We have a Game 6 on our home floor.”
Since the Finals went to a 2-3-2 format, there have been eight times where a team trailed 3-2 in the series with the next two games at home. But only three times — the Lakers in 1988, the Rockets in 1994, and most recently, the Lakers again in 2010 over the Celtics — has the team trailing been able to overcome that deficit.
Despite the challenge in front of his team, the numbers mean nothing to Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, who calmly and succinctly summed up what the task ahead is all about.
“You can’t win a game with a statistic,” he said. “You’ve got to win it on the court.”