- Associated Press - Saturday, June 11, 2011

MIAMI (AP) - LeBron James knows his fourth-quarter offense in these NBA finals have been broken down countless ways, all with relatively the same conclusion.

They’re not good.

He’s got 11 points in the fourth quarters of the five games on 25-percent shooting, has missed all seven of his 3-point tries, hasn’t made anything besides one layup and three dunks, has exactly zero offensive rebounds _ the list of his statistical shortcomings down the stretch of finals games goes on and on.

James is neither hiding from that nor making excuses for it, either.

“They’re not going in for me right now,” James said. “That won’t deter me from taking that opportunity once I get them again.”

The opportunity will likely come Sunday, when it’s win-or-else time for the Miami Heat.

Trailing 3-2 yet still confident, the Heat say they’re already eager for the chance to host Game 6 against the Dallas Mavericks, who would love nothing more than to complete the turnabout from 2006 and win their first title on Miami’s home floor.

Miami knows exactly what Dallas is thinking, from being in that position five years ago, so the Heat say they know what to expect as well.

“Game 6,” Heat forward Udonis Haslem said, “will be the toughest of our lives.”

James came to Miami for championships. He’s said nothing else would allow this season to be defined as successful. So there’s no room for error now.

“Nothing that we’ve done or experienced together has been easy,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Starting from the very first day of training camp going up to an Air Force base and then experiencing all the trials and tribulations of the regular season … a lot of difficult roads. The same goes true for LeBron. He wouldn’t have it any other way than to have his back against the wall where everyone is counting him out.”

After Miami lost Game 5 in Dallas, Spoelstra told the team in the locker room that, if given the opportunity at the start of the season, he would accept the chance to play two games at home with the caveat of needing to win both for a world title.

Here’s that chance.

It’s what the Los Angeles Lakers had to do to top the Boston Celtics a year ago, and the Heat are hoping for that history _ not the one where a Dallas-Miami finals is won on the road in Game 6 _ to repeat itself this time around.

“That’s the way our mentality is right now,” Spoelstra said. “We feel very confident coming back here. That does not guarantee you a thing. Particularly in a series that is so competitive as this. But we’re playing well enough and doing a lot of good things to feel confident about, you just have to stay the course. There’s going to be a lot of ups and downs in a seven-game series. And that’s what it’s all about.”

Other than being down and having James under more scrutiny than even before _ which says a lot _ the Heat had some good news on Saturday. Dwyane Wade’s left hip is fine, the 2006 finals MVP said, and not only will he play Sunday night but he’ll play without any extra padding after bruising the joint in a Game 5 collision with Dallas’ Brian Cardinal.

“I’ll be totally fine,” Wade said.

The Heat can only hope James says the same.

He had 17 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds in Game 5 and the Heat still lost. In Miami’s two wins in the series, he’s shot 3 for 7 in fourth quarters. In the three losses, 1 for 9.

“To answer questions about what’s written about me or anything like that, I don’t really feed into it,” James said. “It’s going to be written no matter what, no matter if I play well or not. I had a triple-double last game. I had a bad game in a lot of people’s eyes. I understand that. That’s just the situation I’m in. That’s the bowl I’m in right now.”

For their part, his teammates say they’re satisfied.

Wade has spoken throughout this series about the confidence he has in James. Heat forward Mike Miller calls him “the best player in the world, period.” And they also insist that it’s not anyone’s singular fault _ not even James‘ _ that they trail in the series.

LeBron has made plenty of big shots in this playoff run and hasn’t been talked about much,” Wade said. “Obviously him not making some shots in this fourth quarters is what everybody is concentrating on. It’s not about that end. We’re losing ballgames on the defensive end of the floor. That’s five guys right there, not just one.”

In all three Dallas wins in the series, Miami has held fourth-quarter leads: 15 with seven minutes left in Game 2, nine with 10 minutes left in Game 4 and a four-point edge with about four minutes left in Game 5.

The Mavericks closed those games on 22-5, 21-9 and 17-4 runs.

“Not going to say every shot they made was bad defense on our behalf,” Haslem said. “You have to give them credit. They did knock down some tough shots. Three or four are shots at the end of the shot clock, sometimes a little demoralizing.”

That can’t happen on Sunday.

“Playoff basketball is all about pressure,” James said.

He may be under more of it than anyone else. From how last season ended with the Cleveland Cavaliers to “The Decision” to everything that has transpired with Miami, James knows that the only way he can silence some of the criticism is by winning it all.

“(There’s) nothing that I’ve seen over the finals that I didn’t know coming into this series,” James said. “I understood this is a huge series. It’s a huge stage. I want to play well, of course. I want to help this team win a championship. That’s all it’s about.”

___

Follow Tim Reynolds on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ByTimReynolds

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