“I never thought we would be in this situation,” said Dwyane Wade after the Heat’s game five loss.
No one did. Wade didn’t make any excuses for his team’s current situation.
He could have pointed to he absence of Chris Bosh for four games. He could have called out his teammates for missing open shots down the stretch.
He did neither. He shouldn’t have anyway. For the Heat, in year two of the “Super Team Experiment”, there are no more excuses.
Last year they were given a pass. It was the Big Three’s first year together so even a collapse in the Finals, where the Heat had a 15 point 4th quarter lead in game 2 and a 1-0 series lead, went by the wayside.
This year there is no other option besides winning an NBA Championship.
“Our focus is to fight any kind of noise from the outside, or any human condition,” said Coach Eric Spolestra after game 5.
Shouldn’t Spolestra’s main focus be finding a way to slow Kevin Garnett? What about better offensive execution in crunchtime situations?
No, instead his biggest concern is shielding this team from what it can’t handle: the pressure.
For two years the media have bombarded the Heat by overdramatizing every loss, critizing every late game mishap to the fullest, and rarely giving them credit for success they have had.
Basketball fans everywhere, aside from true Heat fans, have joined together to root for this experiment to fail.
The weight of the expectations has become this team’s Achilles’ heel.
Spolestra knows it too. That’s why as Miami prepares for the elimination game, he has sheltered them from the media.
Still nothing he does will stop the swirling thoughts destined to give the Heat player’s a few sleepless nights before game six.
The thought that this could be the end of the Big Three? It’s been two years for this experiment, and the initial surreal expectations have yet to even be touched on the surface.
How about the fact that this could be the last hoorah for Spolestra? With Pat Riley potentially waiting in the wing, Spolestra knows a loss to the Celtics is as good as a pink slip.
What about Lebron reminiscing on his victimizing failures before in similar situations?
Two years ago with Cleveland, Lebron played possibly his worst game ever in Cleveland’s game 5 loss to Boston, and was called for ‘tanking the game’ after.
Down 3-2, Lebron and the Cavaliers fell short in an elmination game in Boston.
Last year in the NBA Finals, Miami was down 3-2 with an elimination game on their home floor. They too bit the dust as the Mavericks celebrated on their home floor.
Game six in Boston will be biggest game of the Big Three Era so far. The electricity of the TD Gardon crowd in Boston will be like no other. The pressure will be higher than ever before.
The whole world will be watching to see whether Miami will crumble under the weight of expecations that have been mounting since day 1.
If that isn’t enough for the Heat, they still have a game to play against the Celtics.