The Miami Heat's Big Three followed up their dominant Game 4 performance with another stellar effort in Game 5. When looking at the combined numbers of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh from Sunday, most would probably expect a Heat victory, especially when factoring in Ray Allen's 21 points off the bench.
The Big Three combined for 66 points, 19 assists and 16 rebounds on 25-of-55 shooting, but it was not nearly enough as Miami fell to the San Antonio Spurs, 114-104. With the loss, the defending-champion Heat find themselves in the same situation as the 2011 NBA Finals, heading home down 3-2.
James and Wade had 25 points apiece, and the duo had 15 combined in the early going. But that didn't stop the Heat from falling behind by 13 after the first quarter and by as many as 17 in the second. Miami fought all the way back to get to within one in the third quarter before hitting a wall.
"They continue to have great starts," Wade said afterward. "We continue to start slow. We just dug ourselves into a deep hole really early. Unlike Game 3, we fought back. We got it within one. We used so much to get back, and they continued to keep coming at us."
While James did finish with a solid line of 25 points, eight assists, six rebounds and four steals, he shot just 8-of-22 overall and went 0-of-4 with one point during San Antonio's crucial 21-2 run in the second half. James has not been at his best in these Finals, but he says he's not worried about legacy implications.
"I always just focus on the present," James said. "The next challenge is Tuesday night. We will get better tomorrow. We're going to watch film, see ways we can clean up our starts, especially to our first quarter. We're not playing well in the first quarter. We have to figure that out. We have an opportunity on our home floor with our home fans to keep the series going and we're looking forward to it."
What hurt more than what Miami's Big Three did or didn't do offensively was the team's dismal effort defensively. The Spurs shot 60.0 percent from the field, getting plenty of open looks against a Heat defense that has been surprisingly inconsistent the last few rounds of the playoffs.
In order to successfully defend their title, Miami must now win two games in a row, a feat that seemed trivial earlier in the year when they were busy winning 27 straight. But the Heat have not won two games in a row since beating the Chicago Bulls four straight in the second round and taking the first game from the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals. When asked why this has been the case, James was left scratching his head.
"If I knew the answer we would have won two games in a row," James said. "We just haven't been able to do it."
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