SAN ANTONIO — It was the compelling story of the NBA regular season, the Miami Heat making their run at the league-record mark of 33 consecutive victories.
They fell six games short.
These days, the Heat are looking for another streak. The most modest of all possible winning streaks, actually. And if they fall short again, their time as NBA champions is a few days away from coming to an end.
Miami has alternated wins and losses in each of its last 11 games, and if that trend continues, the Heat won’t beat the San Antonio Spurs in these NBA Finals. Somewhere along the way, the Heat will have to win two in a row to keep their crown, and get a crack at pulling off that common-yet-crucial feat tonight when the Spurs host Game 5 of a title series that’s knotted at two games apiece.
“If we don’t do two, we won’t win a championship. I wasn’t that smart in school, but I do know that,” Heat guard Dwyane Wade said Saturday. “The numbers don’t add up. We have to find a way to put a string together. And hopefully our mentality and our play in Game 4 can take over to the next game or into the game after that. I think this team, we’ve always responded to a challenge, and right now this is our challenge.”
The Heat won Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals against Indiana, lost Game 2 of that series and the win-one, lose-one trend has continued for 11 games. Miami won Game 4 at San Antonio on Thursday night, meaning if this form keeps holding, it’ll be the Spurs’ turn to prevail today.
At some point, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said, the cycle has to be broken.
“Enough is enough,” Spoelstra said.
A couple months ago, the mere notion of the Heat having trouble stringing even two straight wins together would have seemed ludicrous. They won 27 straight games during the regular season. They had a pair of stand-alone six-game winning streaks in November and December, and a five-game run earlier in these playoffs.
But the Pacers took them to the limit in the East finals, and the Spurs struck first by taking Game 1 of the championship series.