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With the games now on in earnest, the Miami Heat are all business.
Following Sunday’s 107-96 Game 1 loss to the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals, LeBron James and company will have you believe they have the Pacers just where they want them.
Even more than the stats that tell you the Heat are an unblemished 7-0 since James touched down in South Beach following playoff losses of 11 point or more or the fact they are an almost equally impressive 4-0 in game 2s following opening game defeats, the look on James and Dwyane Wade‘s faces as they walked off the hardwood following Sunday’s beatdown make you believe that actually could be the case.
The superstar duo seemed intent on taking the pained time to gauge all the mocking looks on the faces of Pacers fans as they dejectedly walked to the locker room, all the taunts and acts of derision bringing smirks to their faces that let you know they’d been offended enough to now perhaps go on the defensive.
And that’s where it all has to start for the two-time defending champs … on the defense. For reasons only known to the Basketball Gods, the Heat were clearly a step slow in defending what they’ve worked so hard to put themselves in position to defend on Sunday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indiana.
Only Michael Jordan’s Bulls and Kobe Bryant’s Lakers have led teams to the three-peat the Heat are now chasing over nearly the last two decades, yet on Sunday they seemed to collectively wilt under the pressure of potentially being so immortalized. But hey, you don’t really put yourself in the conversation about such greatness without first being great, right?
“We’re a confident team,” Wade told ESPN. “And we’re a team that understands where and why we lost a game. We’re a team that owns up to the things we need to do better. This is the first game, and they drew first blood. And we’ve got to come back and figure it out.”
And they’ll do it with the added motivation of now again be doubted. Just as they were following the Big 3 of James, Wade and Chris Bosh‘s first year finals lost to Dallas or even last season’s miraculous comeback finals takedown of the Spurs.
“Going into Game 2 we’ll be more mentally prepared for their actions,” James said in the wake of the Heat surrendering the most points they have at any point this postseason. “They did a great job and exploited us.”
But the Heat know there’s nowhere to go but up from here. And it all starts with defending what they pride themselves on having already earned.
In the words of Coach Erik Spoelstra “I mean, that’s probably us at our worst defensively.”
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