SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Even after winning 27 in a row during the regular season, the Miami Heat don't want to rely on a three-game winning streak now.
Not against a team as good as the San Antonio Spurs.
The Spurs can take a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals on Thursday, which would move the Heat to the verge of something much bigger than just another finals failure.
Lose this series, and the whole Big Three era might be a failure.
So LeBron James called Game 4 a "must-win," and pointed to himself as the guy who has to lead the Heat to it.
"We've been at our best when I guess our backs are up against the wall, and we're at it again," he said Wednesday. "We'll see how we respond tomorrow."
Any questions about James and the Heat were supposed to have been answered by now. He was too good to be taken out of games, his teammates too talented to go through long stretches where they weren't contributing.
But they didn't resemble the league's reigning powerhouse in Game 3, when the Spurs handed them the third-worst beating in finals history in a 113-77 romp. They looked like the confused club from two years ago against Dallas, when the finals last came to Texas.
"Something has to give tomorrow night," James said Wednesday. "They have a championship pedigree. They have four (titles). We have two. So something has to give. We'll see what happens. We've been able to bounce back throughout adverse times throughout the season, throughout the years that we've been together, these three years. We'll see."
"We'll see" is the approach the Spurs are taking with Tony Parker, who has a mild hamstring strain. The team is calling the All-Star point guard day to day after he was hurt during Game 3 and had an MRI exam Wednesday.
"I want to wait until tomorrow before I make a decision whether he should play or not," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "And obviously a lot of it will have to do with Tony, and what happens to him during the day, and how I think his play will affect our team, whether good or bad."
The Spurs didn't need much from him Tuesday, when Danny Green and Gary Neal combined for 13 of the Spurs' NBA Finals-record 16 3-pointers and Kawhi Leonard had 14 points and 12 rebounds, essentially playing James even.
James had his practice jersey hanging over his back like a cape Wednesday, and he knows the Heat need him to be Super on Thursday.
And he insists that's what he's going to be.
"As dark as it was last night, can't get no darker than that, especially for me," he said. "So, I guarantee I'll be better tomorrow for sure."
He should, given that his 7-for-21 effort with no free throws was about as bad as the four-time MVP can play. But he came to Miami so he didn't have to do it all, where a partnership with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh meant his days of having to carry teams were supposed to be over.
But with Wade battling right knee pain for a while and Bosh mired in a slump, there has rarely been the vaunted three-man attack that was expected when they joined up in July 2010.
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