The Heat are now a step closer to winning their second championship in franchise history, both within the past six years, as no team in NBA Finals history has blown a 3-1 series lead.
Miami's taken the Thunder's best shot, but has shown the poise to execute late in games, while the Thunder have the look of a young team who is on the biggest stage for the first time. For the second straight game, a boneheaded play on the defensive end, this time from Russell Westbrook, proved costly for the young Thunder.
If any team has the talent to come back from down 3-1, it's certainly the Thunder, but they certainly have a huge mountain to climb.
Can the Thunder climb that mountain, or is LeBron James ready to close this series out and capture his first championship?
Here's a look at everything you need to know about Game 5 of the 2012 NBA Finals.
When: Thursday, June 21 at 9 p.m. ET
Where: AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami
Live Stream: ESPN3
Betting Line: Miami (-3) via 5Dimes
Thunder Key Injuries (via CBS Sports)
No Key Injuries Reported
Heat Key Injuries (via CBS Sports)
No Key Injuries Reported
What They're Saying
ESPN's Brian Windhorst takes a look at LeBron's heroics, who had to leave late in the fourth quarter with cramps. In what will be known as the "Cramp Game," James limped onto the floor and hit one of the biggest shots of his career.
After his performance this postseason, I don't believe we will be talking about James' failures in the clutch any longer.
This Game 4 will be remembered not for James disappearing, or "shrinking" as was the preferred terminology of 2011, but instead for him hitting two crucial shots on one leg. The last being a 3-pointer that gave the Heat the lead for good in their 104-98 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder that pushed them to a 3-1 lead and to the brink of a title.
It wasn't exactly Willis Reed; let's get the proper perspective. But James limping off the bench with intense cramps to drill the jumper at the end of the shot clock with two minutes to play was clutch, impressive and improbable considering his jump shot had been on hiatus since his last signature moment of the playoffs, Game 6 against the Boston Celtics.
As far as the Thunder are concerned, ESPN's J.A. Adande takes a look at the fact that Oklahoma City's Big Three is missing a wheel, as aside from Game 2, James Harden has been nothing short of awful.
In the past two games, Harden has made just 4-of-20 shots, including a woeful 1-of-9 from behind the arc.
If Harden keeps playing at this subpar level, Brooks might be forced to bench him. Harden played 37 minutes in Game 4, including the entire fourth quarter. He shot 2-for-10 for eight points and had four turnovers, days after a nine-point Game 3. His confidence was so tattered by the end of the game that when he got the ball with just more than two minutes remaining, he looked around for any option other than shooting, realized the Heat's defense was forcing (begging?) him to take the shot and fired up an errant 16-footer.
Brooks stood by Harden in the postgame news conference just as strongly as he did on the court.
"James has put us in a position to be where we are," Brooks said. "He had a tough shooting night, but he competed, he battled, he fought, he defended, he was guarding one of the best players in the game [LeBron]. I don't judge a guy's game on shots, on makes and misses.
Most Important Player to Watch: James Harden
In one corner, LeBron is getting help from the likes of Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers. But in the opposite corner, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are getting no help at all from the one guy that you would expect to be chipping in.
That's Harden, who has been awful this series.
He's missing open looks, including a breakaway layup in Game 4 and appears to have zero confidence right now.
The Thunder have the ability to slowly creep back in the series and send it back to Oklahoma City, but if Harden isn't that third scoring option that can carry this team at times, then this series ends on Thursday.
Key Matchup: LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant
It all comes down to this for King James.
One win away from the ring that has eluded him for nine years and all that's in his way is the three-time scoring champ in Durant.
James has never played better in the postseason, averaging 30.5 points, 9.7 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.9 steals, while shooting 50.1 percent from the floor for the entire postseason.
Durant is going to have to be huge. He's averaged 30.3 points for the series and it may take something special, especially in the fourth quarter, to extend the series.
James and the Heat have executed in the fourth quarters and the Thunder have not. It's that simple and I don't see it changing in Game 5.
Heat 98, Thunder 94
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