It is one or done for the Miami Heat on Tuesday night.
Down 3-2 in the NBA Finals to the San Antonio Spurs, they will have to win two games in a row to retain their title. It’s is a tough ask, even with home advantage.
Since 1985, when the Finals moved to a 2-3-2 format, only three teams have ever come from behind to win the final two games on their own court.
And although none have had a talent quite like LeBron James at their disposal, the Heat have been extremely inconsistent during this post-season.
Over their last 12 games, dating back to the Eastern Conference semi-finals, Miami have not won two consecutive games. They’re 1.28 to force a Game Seven but San Antonio has two shots to secure the championship.
The Spurs, fresh from their 114-104 victory on Sunday, are 3.78 to clinch at the first opportunity or +7 on the handicap at 1.91.
And if they prevail, it could be because of one of the all-time great coaching masterstrokes following Gregg Popovich’s decision to insert Manu Ginobili into the starting line-up for the first time all season in Game Five.
The Argentine repaid that faith with 24 points and ten rebounds and another strong show will likely push this one above the total points line of 190 points, available at 1.91.
The Heat has gaping holes with Mario Chalmers and Chris Anderson dropping off the radar. But Miami has two assets at their disposal: James and the heart of a champion.
The league MVP has yet to produce a classic showing in these Finals and the blame will fall on his shoulders if his team comes up short.
Back in Florida, it’s now or never. Miami are now 1.78 to retain their title with the Spurs at 2.05 to see them off. Despite the ups and downs, all signs point towards a winner-take-all decider on Thursday with the NBA title up for grabs.
Best bet: Take Miami at -7 on the handicap over San Antonio at 1.91