SAN ANTONIO -- The pattern has become predictable, yet it also has been unfathomable.
This is the same team that rattled off that impressive 27-game win streak and had the sports world buzzing as it challenged the NBA's all-time mark, falling six victories shy of tying it. But for some strange reason, in the Heat's last 11 games, they haven't been able to string together successive wins -- a pattern LeBron James vows has to change.
Immediately. As in Sunday night's pivotal Game 5 of the Finals against the Spurs at the AT&T Center.
"I think it's time," James said Saturday. "I think we're well overdue and it's time for us to win consecutive games. I think we're at 11 or 12 straight consecutive win-loss, win-loss, win-loss. I think it's time. Enough is enough for our team. I'm not saying it's going to result in us having a win, but we need to play with the same sense of urgency as if we were down 21 or whatever the case may be tomorrow night.
"We can't wait around."
Not when one considers the swing nature of Game 5. Of previous 27 occasions the Finals that have been tied at 2-2, the team that has won the next game has gone on to hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy 20 times.
This trend of alternating wins and losses is something the Heat hasn't been able to shake since the Eastern Conference finals. Miami blew past the Bucks in the first round and fended off the Bulls in the semifinals before going back-and-forth with the Pacers.
But in their previous two series, the Heat have followed up Game 4 wins by getting pounded by an average of 13 points in their next game, and Dwyane Wade can't pinpoint the reason for their seesaw play of late.
"No excuse why," he said. "It just hasn't happened. But if we don't do two, we won't win a championship. I wasn't that smart in school, but I do know that. The numbers don't add up. We have to find a way to put a string together. And hopefully our mentality and our play in Game 4 can take over to the next game or into the game after that.
"So I think this team we've always responded to a challenge, and right now this is our challenge. Our challenge now as a team is to see if we can put complete games together, back to back. So that's got to be our challenge that we have to look forward to."
In addition to that 27-game streak, the Heat also had a 12-game winning streak and had two separate six-game winning streaks. Don't forget about that five-game victory span bridging the first and second rounds.
That's what's making this stretch such a head-scratcher.
"It's not as if we have never won two in a row," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "So our guys understand what's at hand and what's at stake right now. Look, there's been so much talk about it, but you do have to give credit to the competition both ways. When you get to this level, it's tough to win two games in a row against an equal opponent. We want to make sure that we're continuing to get better, and hopefully tomorrow we can have our best game of the series."