SAN ANTONIO -- Only one other team in NBA history — the 1993 Seattle SuperSonics — has gone as many games in a row alternating wins and losses as the Heat has in a single postseason.
Now, after losing, then winning, and so forth for 10 consecutive games, coach Erik Spoelstra said Friday that “there has to be a point where enough is enough. We have to try to fight for a breakthrough. That’s what [Saturday’s practice] will be about.”
Before this stretch, the Heat had not gone 10 games without winning two in succession in more than four years, before LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade in Miami.
Spoelstra gave his team a “mental break” Friday but said that Saturday “we’re going to be real about it.”
Spoelstra attributed the uneven play largely to the competition.
“If people just say it’s about us and the fact we’re not winning, we don’t have our act together … that doesn’t give any credit to the Pacers or Spurs. … [The Heat and Spurs] are the two best teams, and it should be tight,” he said.
In the series against the Pacers and Spurs, the Heat is 5-0 after losses, with an average margin of victory of nearly 18 points. But after wins, the Heat is 0-5, losing by an average margin of 13.
“We can’t wait until our back is against the wall every time to respond,” James said. “We have to build some momentum. We [must] come in with a mind-set on Sunday that we are desperate once again, and our back is against the wall.”
One upshot is the Heat hasn’t lost consecutive games since Jan. 8 and 10 against Indiana and Portland.
“When things get rough and they’re not going like you want them to go, that’s when we pull together even more,” Bosh said.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said, in general: “You would like to be a little more on an even keel and perform the same way each night. And the only thing I can tell myself after all these years is you’re dealing with people, emotions, not robots.
“They all play hard, but there’s that little intangible, that little spark of intensity or back against the wall or a little fear that seems to kick in when you’ve lost the previous game. When you find teams that can get over that, those are the championship teams.”
• Popovich said the Heat has “that ability to kick it up a notch. Most teams don’t. If those three guys can score like that consistently, they’re really, really tough. It makes the margin of error very, very slim.”
The NBA fined Bosh $5,000 for flopping on a second-quarter play in Game 4. As Spurs guard Gary Neal drove to the basket, Bosh went tumbling to the ground after what appeared to be light contact with Tim Duncan. Bosh is only the second Heat player to be fined for flopping since the league starting penalizing it this season; James was the other, during the Indiana series.
• Spoelstra indicated that he was pleased with how his lineup change worked out, with Mike Miller replacing Udonis Haslem to open Game 4.
“We feel this is the best move for now,” he said.
Though Miller went scoreless in 21 minutes and missed his only shot, “it was as impactful an 0-for-1 game as you can have in the Finals,” Spoelstra said. “Mike brings so many things on both ends of the court. There’s always a risk when you make moves like that.”
Popovich felt compelled to counter the Heat’s small lineup by replacing center Tiago Splitter with Neal just 47 seconds into the game.
“That wasn’t our intention,” Spoelstra said. “We’re not trying to play chess with guys to see if they blink first.”
BY THE NUMBERS
• James shot 8 for 11 on attempts outside the paint in Game 4 after making 19.5 percent of those shots in the first three games of the Finals.
• Wade (32 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 6 steals) became the first player with at least 30 points and 6 steals in a Finals game since Isiah Thomas in 1988. He also is just the fifth player in Finals history to finish a game with at least 30 points, 5 rebounds and 5 steals, joining Allen Iverson, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Julius Erving.
• According to Elias, Wade and James are the first teammates to score at least 30 points apiece in a road Finals win since Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal for the Lakers in 2002.
And with Bosh scoring 20 points — to complement James’ 33 and Wade’s 32 — this marked the first time that two teammates scored 30 and another added at least 20 in a Finals game since Hakeem Olajuwon, Sam Cassell and Clyde Drexler did it for Houston in the 1995 Finals.