by Marcel Mutoni@marcel_mutoni

What began so promisingly for the Miami Heat in these NBA Finals has turned into an absolute nightmare. After winning the series opener in convincing fashion, things haven’t exactly gone according to plan for America’s Most Hated Squad.

LeBron James hasn’t lived up to the hype (on both ends of the floor), Dwyane Wade — brilliant throughout the series — is dealing with a potentially worrisome injury, Erik Spoelstra has been outcoached by Rick Carlisle, and Dirk Nowitzki is threatening to run away with the Finals MVP.

But all hope is not lost, despite a 3-2 series lead for the Dallas Mavericks. After all, the Lakers were in this exact same situation last year in the Finals. And things turned out OK for them.

The Heat need two consecutive victories to survive and clinch a title, and they’ll have a couple of chances at home (potentially) to get it done.

Though clearly concerned by the predicament they currently find themselves in, Miami’s two superstars and its coach know they still have an opportunity to do something special.

From ESPN and the Sun-Sentinel:

James and Wade were supposed to shine together in these moments on their way to winning multiple championships. That talk is gone, with the Heat needing to win the last two games to keep this season from ending in disappointment. Now, the discussion is whether James can perform on the grandest of stages.

The Mavs have never stopped believing they were going to win this series, and the Heat have helped them along, so often giving them an out. Now, Dallas looks like the more confident team even as it will have to overcome the Heat’s last resort — home-court advantage in the final two games of the series. When Game 6 and then maybe Game 7 are close at the end, the Mavs will have no problem believing they can pull it off. They did in Games 2 and 4, and those achievements made Game 5 felt like a haymaker.

“We just got to push through it,” James said. “At this point we have no choice, honestly.”

It’s been an incredibly entertaining series up to this point. It’s now up to the Miami Heat to ensure that it somehow goes to even greater heights.