'Every game is important' for Heat vs. Spurs

'Every game is important' for Heat vs. Spurs
June 8, 2013, 4:00 pm
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MIAMI — Look at the regular season.

Take a look at the playoffs.

You won't find too many instances when the Miami Heat were beaten, let alone at home.

But such setbacks in front of Heat fans not only brought about improved play the next time out, but even more important - a win.

There were four times in the regular season that the Heat walked off the American Airlines Arena floor disappointed with the outcome, and another two times in the playoffs.

But the sting of those losses was soon replaced by the sweet taste of victory which was exactly what Miami came away with the next time they hit the floor.

That's why the Heat aren't overreacting to their less-than-ideal predicament as they head into Sunday's Game 2 matchup against the San Antonio Spurs down 1-0 in the series after a 92-88 Game 1 loss.

"It's the NBA Finals. It's never going to be easy," said Miami's Mike Miller. "We now have to make adjustments and see where we can go from here."

As far as knowing they have bounced back before after losing at home, "If it helps, it helps," Miller said. "Going down 0-1 against the Spurs is not something that we really came here saying, 'let's go ahead and do this.' We got our work cut out for us."

More than anything else, the Heat play a more desperate brand of basketball that has to present when the stakes are as high as they are in the NBA Finals.

"It's that feeling of not wanting to lose two in a row," said Miami guard Mario Chalmers. "Especially in the playoffs, especially in the Finals. We just put everything together, and somehow it clicks and we get the win."

While this has worked in the past, the Spurs present an entirely different and greater set of challenges.

San Antonio guard Tony Parker, whose circus-like bank shot in the closing seconds sealed the Spurs' Game 1 win, has emerged as a lethal scoring threat off the dribble, on pull-up jumpers and of course, dropping tear drop floaters in the lane.

Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili remain a steady inside-outside force as well. And when you throw in role players like Kahwi Leonard and Danny Green, it's clear that San Antonio will be Miami's greatest test - as it should be - all season.

"They beat us in the little areas," Chalmers said. "That's something we can't have."

Especially if they are to have any shot at winning this series which has a 2-3-2 format.

There's plenty of things for LeBron James to concern himself with right now.

The playoff format, he says, isn't one of them.

"At the end of the day, it's a Finals game," he said. "Every game is important. Game 1, Game 2, 3, 4, no matter 2-3-2 format or it could be a 3-2-2 format. No matter what the format is, it's The Finals; every game is important."

That's true.

But the degree of difficulty in winning games is impacted by the format.

The idea of being down 2-0 to the Spurs and then having to go to San Antonio and win at least two out of three to keep the series alive, is a scary concept for the Heat.

Miami was the last team to be down 2-0 in the Finals and come back to win the series, but that was 2006 and that team was the Dallas Mavericks.

And those two losses?

They were on the road, not at home.

"Obviously you don't want to go down 0-2 going to San Antonio for three straight games," said Heat guard Dwyane Wade who was Finals MVP in 2006. "Odds are not that good. They are not in our favor. We're not a team that really says too much, this is a must-win game, but this is a must-win game. For us, we have to win this game at home."

And while nothing is guaranteed, the Heat do take some solace in the fact that they have been in this same predicament before in the playoffs and bounced back to win both times and eventually move on to the next round.

"There's a maturity with this group," said Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra. "We don't take that for granted. But our guys get angry. They own it. We all own it together. And then we just work together to try to get better."