From the looks of it, Miami is set to finish the job at home. Now Oklahoma City needs to break away from the usual to stop the bleeding.
Game Five of the NBA Finals is set on Friday, Manila time, with the Heat looking to seal the title at the American Airlines Arena and the Thunder hoping to extend the series and bring it back to Oklahoma City.
Lead management is a big issue Scott Brooks will be looking to address after twice squandering twin-digit advantages and eventually the games.
Another key for the Thunder should be James Harden or any other Thunder who would be willing and able to step up because on the other side, there’s always someone in Miami who shows up to take that spot as the third man in the Big Three.
It was Mario Chalmers who came up big in Game Four, matching Dwyane Wade’s 25 points and hitting 12 in the fourth quarter en route to a 104-98 victory that gave them a 3-1 lead in the title series.
LeBron James was the leader with 26 points including a clutch triple fired on an aching left leg.
Kevin Durant was active as usual, and Russell Westbrook was explosive as usual.
But again, the Harden that shone in Oklahoma was a no-show in Miami—making five points on two-for-10 shooting.
Westbrook had a monster game with 43 points and Durant came up with 28, but unless somebody helps, King James will have his coronation on Friday.
Miami’s Big Three experiment fell short of expectations when it bowed to the Dallas Mavericks last year but with Shane Battier and Chalmers making significant contributions to the Wade-James duo this part of the season, the Heat look all set to win their second title after the Shaquille O'Neal-Wade powered team went all the way to the top in 2006.
Battier was the other star in a losing effort in Game One, had good numbers in the next two games and is expected to deliver when needed in Game Five, while Chris Bosh could also reprise his role as third man in the Heat’s three-pronged attack.
James has so far scored 117 points and Wade 93 in the series, with a balanced backup crew of Bosh (49), Battier (47) and Chalmers (42).
Durant and Westbrook carry the scoring load for Oklahoma City with 121 and 116, respectively, followed by Harden (43) and Serge Ibaka (26).