Miami Heat, down 3-1 to the Lakers in the NBA Finals, embrace the challenge — Press Telegram

Mere minutes after losing Game 4 and falling behind 3-1 against LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the heavily favored Lakers, members of the Miami Heat got on Zoom and kept talking their talk. “We’ll respond, that’s not even – that’s academic at this point,” Coach Erik Spoelstra said after the 102-96 loss. “We’ll just rest…

Miami Heat, down 3-1 to the Lakers in the NBA Finals, embrace the challenge — Press Telegram

Mere minutes after losing Game 4 and falling behind 3-1 against LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the heavily favored Lakers, members of the Miami Heat got on Zoom and kept talking their talk.

“We’ll respond, that’s not even – that’s academic at this point,” Coach Erik Spoelstra said after the 102-96 loss. “We’ll just rest up tomorrow and get back to work and get ready for the next one.”

It’s one thing to say all the right things; it’s another to believe it. And when Miami, with no more margin for error, claims to be undeterred, and perhaps even inspired by the obstacle in front of them, an opponent probably ought to take that seriously.

And the Lakers will. Over on the Lakers’ Zoom on Tuesday night, James responded to the Heat’s “stick-to-it-iveness” as if he were logged on, listening to what Miami personnel was saying over on the other stream.

“After the Game 3 win, that confidence they had, the confidence they still have even after tonight’s loss, they are just a gritty, so damn-well-coached team,” James said. “If we’re going to be a championship ballclub, if we want to really be a championship team, that we got to have that same grit and that same attitude.”

Because, no, the Heat don’t plan to go quietly in Game 5.

“I’m sure on Friday night, it will be James and Davis on (Jimmy Butler) quite a bit and Jimmy’s not running from that,” said Spoelstra of his star, who couldn’t escape Davis’ shadow Tuesday, when he finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, but had to work hard for it two days after he posted just the third 40-point triple-double in NBA Finals history.

Spoelstra acknowledged the Heat would work on strategy to try to create additional space for their star to perform, but overall, he like the idea of the ensuing knock-down, drag-out battle.

“These games may just end up being in the mud,” Spoelstra said. “You have two competitive groups and you just have to figure out how to make some plays at the end, and that’s usually where we figure it out and usually where our group thrives.”

Butler maintained that Miami will have to play “damn near perfect” to beat the Lakers, but suggested if the Heat can screen better and make a few more tough shots, another victory is there for the taking.

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Rookie Tyler Herro said he’s learning he has to resist letting the Lakers speed him up. Bam Adebayo – who Tuesday played 33 minutes and had 15 points and seven rebounds in his first action since missing two games with a strained neck – said the Heat need to be more disciplined, avoid putting up shots too early. Spoelstra suggested his team missed a few reads and let some fleeting windows of opportunity close.

In other words, the Heat recognize ways they can improve. Whether they can solve the puzzle is to be determined, but Miami means it when its players say they enjoy this sort of thing.

“Our guys love competition and love the challenge,” Spoelstra said. “We are here for a purpose. We never expected this to be easy. We’ll just rest and recover (Wednesday). Recalibrate, get back to work on Thursday. I know our group’s going to be ready.”

Fact. Nowhere. #HEATCulture pic.twitter.com/puTIt8uJTq

— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) October 7, 2020


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