MIAMI An enthralling NBA Finals reaches Game Six later on Tuesday with the San Antonio Spurs one win away from clinching their fifth championship and the Miami Heat knowing they must win to keep their season alive.
The Spurs ended their run of three home games with an explosive 114-104 win over Miami on Sunday to go 3-2 up in the best-of-seven series, and history suggests that gives them the edge.
In Finals series tied 2-2, the team that won game five went on to win the NBA title on 20 of 27 occasions.
But the Heat have a stat of their own to cling to - they haven't lost two games in a row since early January.
And, if Miami were to survive until a winner-takes-all final game on Thursday, they would do so knowing that of the 17 NBA Finals that went to a Game Seven, the home team has won 14 of them.
"You can't win a game with a statistic. You've got to win it on the court," said Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra, who now needs his 'Big Three' of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to deliver together after each going through some troubles in the playoffs.
San Antonio, with Danny Green breaking the record for the most three-pointers in a Finals series (25-38) and veterans Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili showing their class in their search for their fourth titles, will be ready for the pressure.
"Obviously you want to finish in the first opportunity you get," Parker said. "We understand that Miami is going to come out with a lot of energy and they're going to play better at home. They're going to shoot the ball better. Their crowd is going to be behind them.
"I think for us as a team you need to finish as soon as you can. We did that against the Lakers and Golden State and Memphis this year. So hopefully we can do the same thing."
(Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Stephen Wood)