The San Antonio Spurs are on the brink of an NBA championship, but the Miami Heat are not willing to give up just yet.
Although no team has ever come back from down 3-1 in the series to win a title, LeBron James is not scared. According to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne, the superstar explained his mentality to reporters:
Why not us? History is broken all the time. And obviously we know we're against the greatest of odds. No team has ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in the Finals, but there was a point where no team came back from a 2-0. There was a point where no team came back from a 3-0. There was a point where no team came back from a 3-1 or 3-0 deficit in the ALCS, and then the Red Sox did it against the Yankees.
So history is made to be broken, and why not me be a part of it? That would be great. That would be a great storyline, right? But we'll see what happens. I've got to live in the moment, though, before we even get to that point.
Considering the Heat were on the brink of defeat a year ago against the Spurs before Ray Allen tied the game in the closing seconds of Game 6, it is important to never count out this squad.
On the other hand, San Antonio will certainly want to close out the series at home before having to go back to Miami. Game 5 will feature plenty of intensity, so make sure you do not miss a second of the action.
How will this series end?
When: Sunday, June 15
Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Odds (via OddsShark.com): Spurs -5.5
Key Factors to Watch
Spurs' Three-Point Shooting
San Antonio has been almost unstoppable from the perimeter this series, and it seems to be the difference through four games.
Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders points out just how dominant this team has been:
The Spurs' combined shooting percentage through the first four games (.542) is second-highest by any team in a Finals in the shot-clock era.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) June 13, 2014
Amazingly, this is not a case of one player lighting up the scoreboard, according to Numbers Never Lie:
Spurs have 4 players shooting above 45% from 3 this series. Leonard, Mills, Green & Parker are COMBINED 30-58.— Numbers Never Lie (@ESPN_Numbers) June 13, 2014
This outside shooting has made it almost impossible for Miami to keep up on the scoreboard. It does not matter what the squad does on offense if it cannot slow things down on the other end of the court.
If the Heat have any chance of coming back in this series, it needs to start with their perimeter defense. They have to use their athleticism to cover ground when the Spurs are swinging passes, and Erik Spoelstra has to find the best lineup capable of making things difficult for the shooters.
Otherwise, San Antonio will keep nailing three-pointers until the series ends.
Although you do not want to change a team's strategy that got it to the Finals, Miami has to do a better job of passing the basketball.
Once the team starts to fall behind, players like James and Dwyane Wade start trying to take over the game themselves. But even with their immense talent, it is impossible to beat the Spurs defense going one-on-five.
At the same time, the Heat have killed themselves with turnovers throughout this series. Game 3 was especially terrible, as they gave up the ball 20 times in a 19-point loss.
Ethan Skolnick of Bleacher Report points out that the selfishness was a major problem:
Not the main reason Heat lost, but when LeBron & Wade have 12 turnovers & Bosh has 12 touches, something is out of whack.— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) June 11, 2014
Point guard Mario Chalmers won't be able to match Tony Parker on his own, but everyone on the floor has to do his best to find an open man and not give up the ball.
Even when the Spurs missed their shots, they were able to get onto the board with second-chance points. At the same time, the Heat were limited to one shot on almost every possession.
In Game 4, San Antonio out-rebounded the Heat 44-27 in what became a blowout victory. The only time the Heat won the battle on the glass was in Game 2, but it was by just a single rebound in a two-point win.
Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star points out that the ability to do the little things has made the difference so far:
"Loose Balls and Boards:" The True Story of the San Antonio Spurs 2013-14 season.— Candace Buckner (@CandaceDBuckner) June 13, 2014
Tim Duncan has been doing his job in the low post, and he is getting plenty of help from Kawhi Leonard, Boris Diaw, Tiago Splitter and others. The undersized Heat simply have no answers for a team that is so fundamentally sound inside.
This has to change for Miami to get another win in this series.
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