Dwyane Wade: Heat face ‘must-win’ in Game 2 of Finals against Spurs
MIAMI — Staring down some serious math after a Game 1 loss, the Heat opted for a light-hearted approach to their Saturday practice, mixing in an extended half-court shooting contest and some press room hijinks to take the edge off. LeBron James sank 40-footers and briefly grabbed a camera to film a press conference, Dwyane Wade flapped his arms to show he could do a better “Birdman” dance than Chris Andersen and the good-natured trash talk was flowing throughout the Heat’s open practice period, one day before Game 2 will tip off at American Airlines Arena on Sunday.
The goofing was understandable, as both the Heat and Spurs had an extra off day to burn following San Antonio’s 92-88 victory on Thursday. That victory put the Heat on the wrong side of the math: 71.2 percent of Game 1 winners go on to win the Finals and 90.3 percent of teams that take a 2-0 series lead go on to win the title. What’s more, no team has ever dropped Games 1 and 2 at home during the Finals and gone on to win the series.
“It’s very urgent,” Wade, who finished with 17 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists in Game 1, said. “You don’t want to go down 0-2 going to San Antonio for three straight games. Odds are not that good. They are not in our favor.”
San Antonio was 35-6 at home this season and 6-1 at the AT&T Center so far in the 2013 playoffs. During the Tim Duncan era, the Spurs are 9-2 at home in the Finals.
“We’re not a team that really says too much, ‘this is a must-win game’,” Wade continued. “But this is a must-win game. For us, we have to win this game at home. We have to come out and play a lot better and we have to also expect San Antonio to play a lot better, shoot a lot better.”
After Sunday’s Game 2, the series shifts to San Antonio for Game 3 on Tuesday, Game 4 on Thursday and Game 5, if necessary, next Sunday under the NBA’s 2-3-2 format. TNT’s Charles Barkley predicted after Game 1 that San Antonio will close out the series in no more than five games.
“You don’t want to lose two at home,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We take a lot of pride in bouncing back after losses. … We understand the urgency. This isn’t the first time we’ve been through it.”
Indeed, Miami’s recent record in games after losses is impressive. This season, Miami is 17-3 in the first game after a loss, they haven’t dropped two straight games since losses at Indiana and Portland back in January, and they haven’t lost back-to-back home games all season.
The Associated Press notes that the Heat have been particularly good in postseason bounce-back games since forming the Big 3 in 2010.
They trailed Chicago 1-0 in the 2011 East finals and won 4-1. They trailed Oklahoma City 1-0 in last year’s NBA Finals and won 4-1. They trailed the Bulls again in this year’s second round and won 4-1. The rule even applies when facing other deficits, like when they were down 2-1 to Indiana last year before winning in six games, and when they trailed the Boston Celtics 3-2 in last year’s East finals before winning in seven.
That’s a combined record of 17-0 in those series after falling behind.
The Heat actually dropped the first two games of the 2006 Finals in Dallas before running off four straight games to capture the first title of Wade’s career. Nevertheless, all these numbers don’t create a comfort factor when the opponent is a disciplined, experienced Spurs team loaded with top-end talent.
“We understand that just because we’ve done it before, doesn’t mean it’s a guarantee against the team we’re playing right now,” Spoelstra said. “We have to play well. We have to finish all the way through.”
There’s a big difference between urgency and panic, and the Heat don’t appear to have crossed that line yet. Chris Bosh vowed to keep shooting after going 0-for-4 from deep in Game 1 and Shane Battier stressed the importance of winning the turnover game after the Spurs tied an NBA record by committing just four turnovers on Thursday. Other than admitting to feeling some fatigue during Game 1 and expressing some annoyance with questions about whether he should have been more assertive down the stretch, James played ringleader before, during and after a loose practice session.
“I think the importance of a game, the urgency should already be there,” James, who had a triple-double on Thursday, said of Game 2. “That’s what playoff basketball is all about. You can’t afford to not play with a sense of urgency in a playoff game.”