The San Antonio Spurs have been down this road before in the playoffs, and their season suddenly veered into a dead end.
Toward the end of the 2003-04 season, the Spurs had won 17 straight and 19 of 20. The Los Angeles Lakers then posted a 105-81 victory in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals.
Then came another Lakers victory, and another, then the final blow.
San Antonio's mad dash to the finish line crashed and burned with a four-game losing streak to end the season.
Fast forward to this year's Western Conference Finals.
In taking a 2-0 lead in its series against OKC, San Antonio had pushed its winning streak to 20 and had won 31 of its last 33 games.
The Thunder handily won Game 3, just like the Lakers, to snap the Spur's impressive run.
OKC's 109-103 victory in Game 4 at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Saturday night has tied the series at 2 and suddenly put the skids on San Antonio's anticipated waltz to this year's NBA title.
Now the Spurs, who tied Chicago for the NBA's best regular-season record at 50-16, have lost back-to-back games for the first time since April 9 and 11.
With the series now the best-of-3, Game 5 is on Monday at 8 p.m. at the AT&T Center.
“It's, of course, a great challenge,” Spurs sixth man Manu Ginobili said of Game 5. “We are playing against a really talented team. We earned ourselves the possibility of having home-court advantage, and hopefully we'll use it. We played a bad Game 3 (a 102-82 loss). Today was a little better, but it's just part of the past. Both teams took care of business at home. Hopefully, we keep that trend.
“Game 5 is always huge in every series when teams are 2-2. Game 5 most of the time is decisive, so it's going to be a very important one.”
Asked about the importance of Monday's contest, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said: “Every game in the series is important.”