MIAMI – LeBron James had a pained expression on his face during warmups, left the court for a trip the locker room just before tipoff and retreated there again in the first quarter.
He was clearly not feeling his best.
His teammates weren’t making him feel much better, either.
James’ final numbers from Game 4 of the NBA Finals looked stellar on paper: 28 points, 10-for-17 shooting, 4 for 8 from 3-point range and eight rebounds. That alone just wasn’t anywhere near enough, and the Miami Heat are now in a colossal amount of trouble – the sort from which no team has ever successfully emerged before.
The Heat trail this title series 3-1 now, having been embarrassed at home once again by the San Antonio Spurs, who took command from the outset and beat Miami 107-86 on Thursday night. Game 5 is in San Antonio on Sunday night, when the reign of James and the Heat atop the NBA could end by being denied a third straight championship.
No team in NBA Finals history has ever blown a 3-1 lead. And the Spurs haven’t as much as lost three straight games since January.
The Spurs took control with balance, eight players scoring in the first quarter alone.
The Heat? They didn’t have anyone besides James reach double-figures in scoring until 7:37 remained, and by then there were streams of Miami fans filing out of the arena, quite possibly for the final time this season, maybe even for the final time in this Big 3 era.
James came to Miami seeking help to win titles, and that decision got him two rings so far.
But the help was nowhere to be found in Game 4.
Dwyane Wade missed nine of his first 10 shots, finishing 3 for 13 from the field for 10 points. He has played in 151 playoff games. He has shot worse than 3 for 13 in only three of them.
Chris Bosh was 5 for 11, good for 12 points.
Mario Chalmers’ epic struggles continued with a four-point night, which gave him 14 for the four-game series. For comparison’s sake, Spurs backup point guard Patty Mills had 14 points in his first 14 minutes of action in Game 4.
The numbers were awful all around for Miami. The Heat shot 35 percent in the first half, their worst showing on that front in 101 games this season.