Heat back on familiar, and shaky, ground in Finals

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The Heat aren’t down in this series with the Spurs because of James, who was a deserved scapegoat in 2011 against the Mavericks. He has more points than anyone else in this year’s NBA Finals, the second-most rebounds (two behind Tim Duncan) and the most assists (one ahead of Tony Parker).

They’re down in the series for a litany of other reasons, not necessarily related to James.

The Spurs might be the best top-to-bottom team that the Heat have faced in these three seasons of playoff runs. They have the mastermind coach in Gregg Popovich, the veteran core of Duncan, Parker and Manu Ginobili, and the supporting cast like Danny Green (with a Finals-record 25 3-pointers and counting) and Gary Neal (12 3-pointers in the series, second-most behind Green).

“Well, we challenge ourselves to see if we’re a better team than we was,” Wade said. “Same position no matter how we got to it. We’re in the same position going back home with Game 6 on our home floor. So we’re going to see if we’re a better ballclub and if we’re better prepared for this moment. Everything happens for a reason. And this is not a bad reason at all to go home for Game 6 on your home floor.”

There was no outward sign of Heat dejection before leaving San Antonio on Sunday night.

In a corner of the arena where players milled about with their families before departing toward the charter flight that carried the team home to Miami early Monday, Wade had a quiet moment with girlfriend Gabrielle Union, Bosh made “roar” sounds toward some kids and James stopped to give high-fives to about a half-dozen boys who barely came up to his waist, if that. He was smiling the whole time, too.

If there was a “what, me worry” vibe, James was masking it well.

“We’ve been through so many battles,” Spoelstra said. “And we’ve been through everything. The trust level is there now. We’ve been through enough losses, we’ve been through enough pain, been through success that we’re able to manage each other much better than initially the first few weeks together.”

Ray Allen said he would gladly have taken the deal at the start of the year, that being have two games at home to win the NBA title. Same goes for Mario Chalmers, who insisted he couldn’t wait to see what the atmosphere in Miami will be like Tuesday night.

“All I know is, the schedule says we’ve got another game,” Bosh said.

That was his way of saying that no, absolutely all is not lost for Miami. And in the 2-3-2 format, on paper, it was supposed to be exactly this way.

“That’s the position we’re in,” James said. “The most important game is Game 6. We can’t worry about a Game 7. We have to worry about Game 6 and going back home, being confident about our game, being confident about getting a win, which we are. So it is what it is. We have a Game 6 on our home floor.”

He left off the last word of that sentence: Again.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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