SAN ANTONIO – For 10 games, the Miami Heat have alternated victories with losses. LeBron James says "enough is enough" and thinks it's time for the Heat to finally win consecutive games as the NBA Finals resume with Game 5 on Sunday.
The three combined for 85 points in a 109-93 victory over the San Antonio Spurs in Game 4 to even the NBA Finals 2-2. While a collective big offensive game from the Heat's star trio was commonplace their first two seasons together, they have been few and far between this year.
"We would love to do what we did last game every game," James said. "But every game is different. Every game presents challenges. We haven't been able to string games like that for the Big Three this postseason.
"But we're still here. We're still in a position to win an NBA championship. And that's what's most important."
The big question mark when James and Bosh joined Wade in Miami in the summer of 2010 was how they would co-exist offensively. They were tentative at first during the 2010-11 season with problems spacing the floor, defining their roles and figuring out who would be the best facilitator. By the end of the regular season, the Heat's star trio seemed to have figured it out as James averaged 26.7 points, Wade 25.5 and Bosh 18.7. Those averages stand as the highest scoring averages the three have had collectively in their three seasons together.
Still, they had work to do. During the 2011 NBA Finals, the Dallas Mavericks beat the Heat using a zone defense. James was too passive and too content to shoot jumpers. Coach Erik Spoelstra has said that Heat team was "completely foreign" to what they are doing now. While James' scoring improved during their second season together (27.1 points per game), Wade's (22.1) and Bosh's (18) dipped. Together, they more than prolific enough to win the championship while beating the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games.
James said the Heat's Big Three figured out how to make it work by learning from their first season together.
"It's just the sacrifice we all had to make," James said. "That's the biggest challenge. The sacrifice you have to make to be the face of the franchise, the face of a team and sacrifice everything to be a part of something greater. That's it. Once we figured that out, we've been pretty good ever since."
The Heat continued to show progress this season by winning a franchise-best 66 games and making a third-straight Finals trip. Wade had his lowest-scoring average of the Big Three era with 21.2 points following left knee surgery last off-season. Bosh averaged 16.6 points and has said he is still having a hard time adjusting to playing primarily on the perimeter.
The Heat have often appeared to be more James and Co., and not the Big Three this season.
"It's been a while since we all had performances like that," Wade said. "Obviously on this stage that's one of the – that's probably our best [game] together all at the same time.
"So it was good to see. That game and stuff like that was the reason we came together, so we can have moments where we all dominate at the same time and to have moments where if a guy is not dominating, we have two other guys."
James averaged more than 23 points in each of the first three rounds of the playoffs, but just 16.7 points through the first three games of the Finals. He vowed to be more aggressive offensively in Game 4. Wade averaged 14.3 points the first three games of the Finals while Bosh averaged 12.3. They also combined to shoot 3-of-18 from 3-point range in the first three games.
James was aggressive as advertised in Game 4 with 33 points. Wade, somewhat surprisingly, also had 32, which was 11 points more than any other playoff game this season and his most since scoring 39 on Feb. 26 versus the Sacramento Kings. Bosh also had a double-double of 20 points and 13 rebounds.
"They are the Big Three," Duncan said. "So when all three of them are playing well and Chris shot the ball well, made some plays on the inside, finishing off of LeBron and Dwyane's passes, it's a huge factor, because that's where 80‑something of their points came from, all three of them."
So can all three of them come together to spark the Heat to a Game 5 road win?
The Heat closed out their second-round series against the Chicago Bulls with four consecutive victories then followed with another victory over the Indiana Pacers in the opener of the Eastern Conference finals. They haven't won consecutive games since.
The Spurs will be playing their final home game of the season and haven't lost consecutive games at the AT&T Center all season.
The Heat's Big Three have dealt with a lot of challenges in their three seasons. Sunday's certainly will be high on the list.
"At the end of the day, we came together for one reason," Wade said. "And that reason was to win, and to compete for a championship. And we've been able to be in the Finals three years in a row. So no matter what challenges we've been through, we've ended up where we wanted to be. And that's what it's all about."
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