SAN ANTONIO -- This night was about how Tuesday is going to feel.
The way NBA Finals Game 5 ended here Sunday was about how South Florida is going to awaken the morning of the next game, and what will be on Heat fans minds as they attempt to concentrate at work and then traipse into the home arena that night.
It might have felt so good, right? Might have been a party. Could have been. A victory for a 3-2 series lead and Miami would have been poised and ready to celebrate a second consecutive championship that night. Hialeah would have the pots and pans out. Anybody near Biscayne Boulevard might have anticipated getting zero sleep for the incessant bleat of car horns.
Tuesday would have felt like a coronation in waiting.
Piñatas replaced by Pepto.
The Heat had the chance to make the rest of this seem so easy well, easier but Sundays 114-104 Game 5 loss took care of that desired path and lined the Road to Repeat with treachery.
Now, to be champions again, Miami must do what it has failed to do for the past 12 postseason games: Win two in a row.
Now, Heat fans are left to pray the next game is survived as much as won and that Miami team and city gets to the scariest thing in all of sports:
A Game 7.
Do you believe, South Florida?
How much do you believe?
Nobody said this was going to be easy, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra had said last week.
Sunday night made him a prophet.
Miami never led in Game 5. It was tied 17-17 early. The Heat drew within 75-74 late. But every time it got close, San Antonio had all the answers.
The Spurs burst out on a 19-1 run after Miami had drawn within one.
We felt wed weathered the storm, Spoelstra said of that one-point margin. But it went downhill from there. It snowballed.
The Heats Big 3 came up big again, with LeBron James (25 points), Dwyane Wade (25) and Chris Bosh (16) combining for 66 points. And Ray Allen had 21 off the bench. But Miami shot only 43 percent as a team while its defense allowed the Spurs to shoot 60 percent.
Offensively, [we] werent very good or very efficient, Spoelstra said.
The defense was worse. The Heats failings there were the nights biggest disappointment. Giving up 114 points and 60 percent shooting are scarlet numbers close to embarrassing to a team that prides itself on defense as a mind-set and culture.
Wade blamed the slow start.
We continue to start slow, he said afterward. We dig ourselves into a deep hole very early. Unlike Game 3 we fought back, but they keep coming at us.
San Antonio started Manu Ginobili to help match Miamis quicker small-ball approach, and it worked. At times it seemed the Heats defense was on its heels. Finals thorn Danny Green had six more three-pointers, giving him 25 for the series to break Allens Finals record.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich exhorted his team during a fourth-quarter timeout to knock the stuffing out of them, but the San Antonio lead was then around 20. In the stuffing category, the Heat was playing the Scarecrow from Oz for most of the night before closing it a bit late.
The mystery that has imperiled Miamis repeat-title hopes is that a team that won a club-record 66 regular-season games, including 27 in a row, has failed lately to prove it can win even two in a row.