MIAMI (AP) - They lost three times in three months in one of the most overpowering stretches the NBA has ever seen.
Now the Miami Heat have lost three times in five games.
They have to be perfect.
“We look forward to the challenge,” James said.
The San Antonio Spurs can finish Miami off Tuesday night in Game 6, reaffirming themselves as one of the league’s greatest franchises.
If so, the Heat and their Big Three once again go from celebrated to devastated, just as they were two years ago when they came home from Texas facing this same predicament.
“We’re going to see if we’re a better team than we were our first year together,” James said.
The Spurs took a 3-2 lead with their 114-104 victory Sunday night. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili were all brilliant again, and Danny Green added to what could become one of the most out-of-nowhere finals MVP campaigns ever.
“We understand Game 6 is huge,” Parker said. “Obviously, you want to finish in the first opportunity you get. We understand that Miami is going to come out with a lot more energy, and they’re going to play better at home. They’re going to shoot the ball better. Their crowd is going to be behind them.”
None of that mattered two years ago.
Clearly reeling and their psyches shaken after dropping two straight games in Dallas, the Heat were blitzed early in Game 6. They never recovered, Chris Bosh inconsolable as he made his way back to the locker room afterward while the Mavericks celebrated at center court.
James had to endure the criticisms that came with not getting it done in the finals, a story line that was put to rest last year but will be back again if the Heat don’t manage to put together consecutive victories.
“We challenge ourselves to see if we’re a better team than we were,” Wade said. “Same position no matter how we got to it.”