SAN ANTONIO - LeBron James said he felt every "bad emotion'' he could after the Spurs pushed the Heat to the brink of elimination Thursday night, but he seemed at peace Saturday and confident that Miami can make history.
Thirty-one teams have tried, but no team has ever erased a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals to win the championship. James said he plans to use the possibility of being the first to do it as motivation when he addresses his teammates before they take the court for Game 5 Sunday night.
"It would be in the range of: Why not us?'' James said. "Why not us? History is broken all the time. And obviously we know we're against the greatest of odds. No team has ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in the Finals, but there was a point where no team came back from 2-0.
"There is a point where no team came back from a 3-1 or 3- 0 deficit in the ALCS, and then the Red Sox did it against the Yankees. So history is made to be broken, and why not me be a part of it? That would be great. That would be a great story line, right?''
It would, but the Spurs would prefer the story line in which they dethrone the Heat and end Miami's championship reign at two straight.
San Antonio has its own motivation and incentive to put this series away. Leading 3-2 last year, the Spurs gave up a five-point cushion in the final 28.2 seconds of Game 6, lost in overtime and then dropped Game 7. It's a haunting memory, but it has made them stronger.
"We go back to last year and we learn from that,'' Tim Duncan said. "We're 30 seconds away. We feel that we have it in the bag and it slips out of our fingers.''
The Spurs have dominated this series, winning the two games in Miami by a total of 40 points. Their execution has been brilliant. Their ball movement has made the Heat look old and slow, and everyone is contributing.
Aside from James, no one from Miami is playing well. There have been questions about Dwyane Wade's health after he shot 3-for-13 and missed many easy shots inside in Game 4, but he said there's nothing wrong with him physically.
"I'm fine,'' Wade said. "Way better than I've been in a long time. Last year I had one leg and did all right. So I'm totally fine, man. I didn't play well in Game 4. Has nothing to do with my health at all. None of us have played well enough. We as a team, the Miami Heat, we haven't played well enough.''
Perhaps the extra day off between Games 4 and 5 will help Wade, who will try to atone for his bad performance.
Everyone on the Heat will play with desperation. Even James will try to elevate his play -- and he is averaging 27.5 points and shooting 60 percent from the field in the series.
"I've been telling myself I need to do more,'' James said. "Is it too much to ask myself? I don't know. I don't know. I need to do more because what I'm doing isn't enough.''
This isn't about legacy for James, who is the best player in the NBA. At this stage of his career, he said it's win the title or failure.
"For me, it's like you either don't make the playoffs or you win a championship,'' James said. "There's no in between. I don't want no first-round victory, no second-round victory, no Eastern Conference finals. Either I don't make the playoffs -- I would rather get my two months off, get my body rested -- or win the Finals. I don't want no in between.
"We have a tall task, a tough task, but we're here, we're in the moment, and do your best. Just go out and perform, play basketball at a high level. Something you've been doing your whole life. Live with the results, man, and go from there.''