Miami Heat trying to close out Oklahoma City Thunder in NBA Finals
One more victory by the Heat would give LeBron James his first title in three trips to the Finals. (Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images / June 19, 2012)
MIAMI--The banner headline in the Miami Herald read, "PROMISED LAND," in huge capital letters.
There was no question mark at the end of the words, as if the Miami Heat's beating the Oklahoma City Thunder to close out the NBA Finals was a fait accompli.
The Thunder will presumably show up anyway for Game 5 on Thursday night at AmericanAirlines Arena, intent on sending the series back to the deafening confines of its home arena in Oklahoma City.
A victory by the Heat, which leads the best-of-seven series, three games to one, would give LeBron James his first title in three trips to the Finals and quiet a legion of critics who have basked in his failure to win basketball's biggest prize since he uttered the infamous line about "taking my talents to South Beach."
"I have a job to do," James said Wednesday, "and my job is not done."
Job No. 1 on Thursday may be properly hydrating to stave off the cramps that twice forced James off the court in the fourth quarter of Game 4. James said he was still sore a day later but expected to be fine by game time Thursday, when the Heat will try to win its first championship since the team led byDwyane Wade and Shaquille O'Neal beat Dallas in 2006.
Oklahoma City has yet to put together anything close to 48 minutes of its best basketball. The Thunder rallied furiously after slow starts in the first two games, then melted down in the final minutes of Games 3 and 4.
If the scenario repeats itself Thursday, the Thunder will have the rest of the summer to ponder its regrets.