Pressure now on Heat to win back-to-back
Miami has struggled to win two straight games deep in the playoffs, which comes as a surprise to a team that recorded the second-longest winning streak of all-time in the regular season.
The Heat are looking for their second consecutive NBA title after compiling a league-best 66-16 record which included a 27-game winning streak.
But the Heat now have 11 alternating wins and losses in these playoffs, including trading the first four games of the NBA finals with the San Antonio Spurs to reach 2-2 in the best-of-seven championship series.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra says it’s an indication of how evenly matched the Heat and Spurs are.
“It’s not as if we have never won two in a row,” Spoelstra said during Saturday’s practice at the AT&T Center. “Our guys understand what’s at hand and what’s at stake right now.
“You do have to give credit to the competition both ways. When you get to this level, it’s tough to win two games in a row against an equal opponent.
“We want to make sure that we’re continuing to get better, and hopefully tomorrow we can have our best game of the series. It’s not about trying to win the next two out of three, getting ahead of ourselves or anything else.
“It’s can we play our best game of the series tomorrow.”
After Sunday’s game five in San Antonio, the series shifts bck to Miami for game six on Tuesday.
Miami guard Dwyane Wade, who is playing on a pair of balky knees, said the Heat’s biggest challenge now is to string two wins together.
“If we don’t do two, we won’t win a championship. I wasn’t that smart in school but I do know that,” said Wade, who looked like the D-Wade of old with 32 points in Thursday’s 109-93 game four victory.
“We have to find a way to put a string together. This team has always responded to a challenge. Our challenge now as a team is to see if we can put complete games together, back to back.”
The Heat and Spurs are not only the league’s best teams this season but they have been two of the NBA’s most successful franchises over the past decade.
The Eastern Conference champion Heat and the five-time champion Spurs are meeting each other in the finals for the first time. Since 1997, the Spurs have the best post-season winning percentage in the league. The Heat are third.
But if San Antonio is going to capture their first title since 2007 they are going to have to find a way to get Tony Parker healthy quick.
Parker says he knows he won’t be 100 per cent in game five after suffering a mildly strained right hamstring in game three. He played reduced minutes because of it in the Spurs’ game four loss.
Parker finished with 15 points in the first half but had zero in the second half and missed all four of his field goals.
Parker says he realises that he risks a more serious injury by playing in game five but because it is the NBA finals he is going to give it a shot.
“My hamstring can tear any time now. So if it was the regular season, I would be resting like 10 days. But now it’s the NBA finals. If it gets a tear, it’s life,” Parker said during Saturday’s Spurs practice.
Parker said he will see how it goes in the first half of Sunday’s contest and then spend halftime getting treated by the medical staff in the locker room.