The Miami Heat won three straight games in the 2014 NBA Playoffs before reaching the Finals.
They won Games 2, 3 and 4 against the Indiana Pacers. And they won six in a row between Game 1 of Round 1 against the Charlotte Bobcats and Game 2 of Round 2 against the Brooklyn Nets.
But the Heat never needed to come from behind to win three straight. They also never needed to come from behind against a team as dominant as the San Antonio Spurs.
To three-peat and come back from a 3-1 deficit in the best-of-seven series, Miami needs a miracle. Other teams have needed the same miracle. They never got it, as ESPN Stats and Info illustrated:
Spurs are 1 win away from 5th NBA title ... and here's the history of teams with 3-1 leads in NBA Finals pic.twitter.com/fOtmf6SSDG— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 13, 2014
Here's how to watch Game 5 and whether it's the end of a dynasty or the start of history.
When: Sunday, June 15 at 8 p.m. ET
Where: TV: ABC Live Stream: Watch ABC
The Heat are in their fourth straight NBA Finals appearance. They are gunning for their third straight championship. Entering the rematch with San Antonio, everyone thought they knew Miami.
But after the Heat's 107-86 Game 4 debacle against the Spurs, the clearest thing about Game 5 is that these aren't the same defending champions. San Antonio faced Miami's most daunting streaks Thursday and spit on them. The Heat hadn't lost back-to-back postseason games since 2012 and back-to-back postseason home games since 2011.
The LeBron James who is capable of scoring anytime he wants (see: 61.0 percent shooting over the past five games) scored less than 30 points for the second straight game. This prompted Skip Bayless' latest jab at him:
Thank you, LeBron, for being so passive on offense in 1st half last night and allowing Spurs to take commanding lead.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) June 13, 2014
Bayless is right, though. James is the best player in the world. But when the best player in the world is shooting 61.0 percent and taking just 23.9 percent of his team's shot attempts, that's a problem—especially when his teammates are horrendous.
Dwyane Wade shot 3-of-13 from the field in Game 4, finishing with 10 points. In comparison, James Jones scored 11 points in three minutes.
The Big Three no longer exists. James is now the Big One. And, as Bleacher Report's Andrew Bailey pointed out, James is up against the Spurs' Big-Enough Nine:
I honestly don't know if I can remember a single basketball team more complete than these 2013-14 San Antonio Spurs. pic.twitter.com/qmX3ImheSF— Andrew Bailey (@AndrewDBailey) June 13, 2014
How will the Finals conclude?
In the playoffs, San Antonio has six players who average at least 9.0 points per game and nine who average at least 5.0. Miami has four players who average at least 9.0 points per game and seven who average at least 5.0. Everyone who said depth is overrated before the finals is mute.
Luckily for the Big One, he has just enough talent around him to carry the Heat to a win or two (or even three), if he decides to impose his will. Again, he's shooting 61.0 percent, for crying out loud. Watch some film of Stephon Marbury and learn how to be a ball hog if that's what it takes.
If he doesn't, the Spurs will celebrate their fifth title since 1999 on their own floor on Sunday.
David Daniels is a columnist at Bleacher Report. He tweets, too.