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Heat in battle against Spurs, history, and themselves

LeBron James and the Heat are down 1-3 to the San Antonio Spurs in the Finals.
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

In the NBA you can expect the unexpected. The San Antonio Spurs were dominant at home in the 2014 NBA Playoffs, yet fell to Miami in game 2 98-96. The Spurs then went to South Beach and beat the Heat twice on their home court. Who saw this coming?

San Antonio defeated the Miami Heat 107-86 in game 4, giving them a commanding 3-1 series lead in the NBA Finals.

Miami’s disappearing act at home is the biggest shocker of the 2014 NBA season. The two-time defending champions look out of sorts on both ends against the Spurs. LeBron James has been his usual spectacular self but the Heat’s role players have been terribly inconsistent. Miami is giving up an average of 106 points per game in the Finals which is inexcusable for a championship team.

The Heat have yet to crack 100 points in the Finals, but it’s not so much their offense as it is their defense that’s failing them. In the Spurs’ three wins they’ve beaten Miami by an average of 18 points. Miami’s lone win was just by 2 points.

The Heat just can’t stop San Antonio.

Tony Parker and company are putting on a passing clinic that has befuddled the Heat. San Antonio has a total of 102 assists in the Finals compared to Miami’s 62. So not only are the Heat not moving the ball, they’re missing defensive assignments at an alarming rate – that’s an awfully bad combo to have.

Miami is also losing the battle of the boards 144-113 to the Spurs. Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra’s decision to play small has allowed San Antonio’s big men, Tim Duncan, Tiago Splitter, and Boris Diaw to feast in the paint.

Now fingers are being pointed in South Florida. Everybody from Coach Spo to Dwyane Wade to Mario Chalmers is catching heat, no pun intended, for the Heat’s performance. King James himself is even calling out his teammates.

"It's not on my shoulder," LeBron James said after game 4. "It's not. I understand I get a lot of the limelight in the press and all that, but it's not all on my shoulder."

Unfortunately it is on LeBron’s shoulders. History won’t remember that Dwyane Wade had a bad scoring game in game 4 or that Mario Chalmers struggled shooting the ball. History will say LeBron James lost in three NBA Finals.

History is not on Miami’s side. No team in Finals history has ever come back from 3-1 deficit. If Miami wins game 5 in San Antonio they’ll have game 6 back at American Airlines Arena, which isn’t necessarily a good thing given how they performed there in games 3 and 4.

The Heat do have one thing on their side that could change the course of the Finals – LeBron James. In last year’s Finals the Heat faced elimination and rattled off 2 wins in a row to secure their second straight championship. LeBron was dominant in those games. For him to save Miami’s season he’s going to have to go back into the phone booth and put on his cape.

Game 5 takes place Sunday on ABC.