Only eight teams have ever come back after staring down a 3-1 deficit in the NBA playoffs, but none has completed the seemingly impossible feat in the Finals before.
The Miami Heat now must overcome history and an unstoppable offensive machine in the San Antonio Spurs in Sunday’s Game Five of the NBA Finals at AT&T Center.
The last team to comeback from a 3-1 hole was the Phoenix Suns over the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round back in 2006. In 1997, the Heat actually battled back and toppled the rival New York Knicks, but much of that series victory was credited to Knick player suspensions after a brawl late in the series.
Unless forward Kawhi Leonard and guard Tony Parker are miraculously and abruptly suspended by the league for Game Five, the Heat and LeBron James’s chances of winning three straight titles are in serious jeopardy.
Leonard registered 20 points and 14 rebounds with three steals and three blocks in Game Four’s 107-86 victory, and the Spurs have managed to win all three of their games by at least 15 points. Parker notched 19 points on 8-for-15 shooting, and forward Boris Diaw shredded Miami on the boards and with his playmaking with nine rebounds and nine assists to go along with eight points.
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Parker and the Spurs once again staked their claim in the paint with 46 points inside, and outrebounded Miami 44-27, including 12 offensive boards.
Miami’s defense clearly hasn’t been able to contain the Spurs, but other than James its offense has labored just as much.
James led Miami with 28 points and eight rebounds in Game Four, but guard Dwyane Wade continued to show signs of age going 3-for-13 from the field with four assists and four steals. It was by far Wade’s worst shooting performance during the postseason, and the lightning quick first step that made him a perennial All-Star has faded with his nagging knee injury.
Miami forward Chris Bosh has averaged 14.3 points during the Finals, but his production on the glass has slipped compared to last year when he notched four double-doubles and made key plays down the stretch. Bosh is averaging 4.8 boards this year, in contrast to 8.9 in 2013.
Mario Chalmers shooting woes stretched into Game Four, and he’s yet to score in double-digits since the second round series against Brooklyn. Last year, he torched the Spurs and forced Parker to hustle on both sides of the floor with 10.6 points and 40 percent shooting from deep.
Betting Odds: San Antonio -5.5
Over/ Under: 195 points
Prediction: San Antonio 105-98