DALLAS — The NBA finals between Miami and Dallas are a best-of-three series now, and LeBron James is coming off the worst scoring night of his professional playoff career.
No better time than now for a turnaround, the Heat forward said.
"I think it's that time," James said. "I think it's that time that I try to get myself going individually."
Said Heat guard Dwyane Wade: "Sounds good to me."
James' words surely sound good to the rest of the Heat, too. Game 5 of the NBA finals are Thursday in Dallas, the Heat and Mavericks tied at two games apiece, and all eyes — more than usual, if that's possible — will see how James bounces back from a stunning Game 4 statline.
He was held to eight points, more than 20 off his career playoff average coming into the night, on 3-for-11 shooting in Miami's 86-83 loss.
So far in the finals, he has nine points in the fourth quarter.
To put that in perspective, Dirk Nowitzki had 10 in the final quarter of Game 4 alone.
"I didn't play well, especially offensively. I know that," James said. "I've got to do a better job of helping this team win basketball games, especially late, no matter what it is. If that's getting an offensive rebound, like I said, making a couple of baskets, being more aggressive to give my guys opportunities to get open looks. I have to do that. That's what my job is. That's what I'm here for."
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Miami will make some adjustments to help James' offensive flow in Game 5. The Mavericks may be providing James with some help as well.
On the eve of Game 5, Dallas guard DeShawn Stevenson directed some sharp words toward James, saying he "checked out" in the final minutes of Game 4 on Tuesday night.
Stevenson isn't worried about the perception of his comments, either.
After Dallas practiced Wednesday, Stevenson was saying that the Heat are still getting to know each other, that James wasn't himself in Game 4 and that the two-time MVP is "talented enough that he can use anything in the paper to kind of boost his ego."
James was unbothered, at least outwardly, by his latest give-and-take with Stevenson.
"DeShawn, he's been talking for a long time, since our Washington-Cleveland days," James said. "I don't let that get to us. Those guys are playing well. We're playing well. It's a three-game series. Talk is cheap. You have to play the game of basketball. Let the scores and the plays define the game."
When saying this series is even, it goes deeper than saying each team has won two games so far in the finals.
Through four games, some of the statistical similarities are absurd.
— Points: Miami is averaging 89, Dallas 87.8.
— Rebounds: Dallas is averaging 40, Miami 39.
— Field-goal percentage: Miami 42.8, Dallas 41.4.
— 3-point percentage: Miami 34.5, Dallas 34.2.
In short, the Heat and Mavericks are even so far.
"We're in an absolute heavyweight bout, and that's the way it should be," Spoelstra said. "It's as even a series as it can be. Right now there's no 'woulda, coulda, shoulda.' Both teams have done the same thing. Won on each other's court, and won one game on their home court."