Business as usual, with NBA title on the line
MIAMI (Reuters) - The Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder went about their business as usual on Wednesday, watching film and holding practice, but the atmosphere was charged with the knowledge that the NBA title was on the line in Thursday's game.
"It was a normal day of work, long film session, went through some things in practice, and now we're going to try to rest up and get our bodies and minds right for this battle tomorrow night," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.
Miami leads the best-of-seven series for the National Basketball Association championship 3-1 and can clinch the title on their home court in Game Five.
No team has overcome such a deficit to win the NBA crown but the Thunder know they can go on a run of their own, having won four in a row from San Antonio in the Western Conference finals after ending the Spurs' 20-game winning streak.
"It's fresh in our mind," said Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks. "It was just last series that we were down 0-2. I mean, we're definitely down. Our back is against the wall, but it's not over.
"We still have some fight in us."
LeBron James, poised to silence critics who in the past have questioned his performance in pressure-packed finishes, has been dominant and vowed to continue his inspiring form despite being forced from the court by leg cramps at the end of Game Four.
"I'm still a little sore because of the muscles just kind of being at an intense level, very tight," James told reporters. "I was able to get some treatment last night. I was able to get some treatment this morning.
"I have all day tomorrow, too, to prepare. I should be fine by tomorrow night."
Last year, James and his Big Three cohorts Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh fell short of the title they had promised Miami fans after joining forces as free agents in the summer of 2010 by falling to the Dallas Mavericks in a six-game NBA Finals.
Since then, James has emerged as the undisputed leader of the Heat in his second year with the team and has thrived in all facets of the game in this series, averaging 29.3 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.
The three-time NBA Most Valuable Player, who goes by the self-proclaimed moniker of King James, would ignite a South Beach coronation party should he succeed in claiming his first NBA ring in his third trip to the championship series.
"I will make sure my guys are ready for Game Five, and we will be prepared. Coach Spo and the coaching staff will give us a great game plan," James said. "And I'll make sure myself and my teammates are ready to execute it."
Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant, a three-time NBA scoring champion at the tender age of 23, has gone quiet in the fourth quarter of the last two close finishes registering just four points in crunch time in both the Game Three and Four contests.
"Everybody in the world knows our backs are against the wall right now," Durant said. "We're down 3-1. We're down 3-1 with a chance to try to take it back to Oklahoma City tomorrow.
"We can't win three games in a row here in Miami. We can't win the series by next game. We've got to take it a possession at a time, a game at a time and go from there.
"We're going to keep fighting, keep fighting, and we'll see what happens tomorrow."
(Editing by John Mehaffey)
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