NBA Finals 2012: Game 4 Is Crucial for LeBron James and the Miami Heat

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NBA Finals 2012: Game 4 Is Crucial for LeBron James and the Miami Heat
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

After collapsing in the second half of a 105-94 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, the Miami Heat have reeled off two consecutive victories to take a 2-1 series lead.

Sound familiar? It should.

The Heat are just one year removed from opening the finals against the Dallas Mavericks with a 2-1 advantage before losing the next three games, and another opportunity for LeBron James to tally his first title slipped right through his fingers.

While another season together could prove to be just what the doctor ordered for Miami's Big Three—resulting in a reversal of fortunes—the Thunder present a much different challenge than what the Heat saw last year in the Mavericks.

To prevent a relapse of last year, Game 4 is crucial to Miami streamlining their title chances this season.

The Thunder are young and hungry, and they may as well have the word "Dynasty" written on the front of their jerseys, something that the Heat set out to accomplish when LeBron decided to take his talents to South Beach.

Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka might represent the league's first ever Big Four (I'm taking credit for this now by the way, and my apologies to Mike Miller). Neither is over the age of 23 and all bring enough of a variance to the table that the results over the next few seasons could be very scary.

With this year's NBA Finals built upon so many diverse storylines, it must be difficult for the key players to focus on the series itself.

Can the Miami Heat still win the championship if they lose Game 4?

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Can LeBron continue to turn the volume down on his critics? Will the real Dwyane Wade please stand up? Is Erik Spoelstra indeed the man to lead the Heat to multiple titles? Did anyone know how important Chris Bosh really was to this equation?

While Game 4 certainly isn't must-win for Miami, a victory would all but seal the championship for the Heat as they'd take a 3-1 series lead with Game 5 at home.

A loss, however, intensifies the pressure and shifts the advantage back to Kevin Durant and Co.

 

Contact Jeremy at jeremy@popflyboys.com, on Twitter @KCPopFlyBoy and at popflyboys.com.

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