The Miami Heat were 37-4 at home in American Airlines Arena during the regular season. During the current National Basketball Association playoffs, the Heat have lost three games at home and a fourth would be incredibly damaging to their chances of back-to-back titles. Having lost game one 92-88 on Thursday night, the Heat would face the prospect of having to four out of five games with three of those being on the road in San Antonio.
While that is simply a ‘what-if’ scenario, it’s one that not even a team as talented as the Heat can afford to look past and I’m confident Erik Spoelstra and his veterans are making that crystal clear. While it certainly wouldn’t be impossible to comeback from the 0-2 deficit, it would would be highly improbable. So what does the Heat have to do in order to head to Texas with an even series? Let’s break it down.
Rely on Recent History – Since early January, the Heat have followed up every loss with a win. That’s a record of 10-0 following a loss. These aren’t squeakers either. Their average margin of victory in those bounce-back games is 18.9 points. While the Heat can certainly turn around and win tonight, I’m not sure the 19 point margin is something I’d hang my hat on.
Miami Must Get More From the ‘Bigs’ – Chris Bosh had 13 points in game one on 6 of 16 shooting. That also included 0 for 4 from three-point range. While Bosh can knock threes down better than most big men in the NBA, he has to let the specialists take those shots especially if he just isn’t making them. Yes, it helps pull the Spurs’ big men out from the basket but that won’t happen if Bosh keeps missing.
Udonis Haslem had just two points in 17 minutes of action and took just the one shot. While Haslem doesn’t have to be a scorer, he does need to be more of a threat in the paint and with his patented baseline jumper.
Get to the Charity Stripe – If there are no discussions about officiating after an NBA Playoff game then that means the guys in gray did a nice job in calling the game. San Antonio shot 18 free throws while Miami shot 17. The difference in this case was the that the Spurs only missed three while the Heat missed five. But that isn’t really the point.
The Heat have to not only shoot better from the foul line but they must get there more often period. They Heat can do that by re-gaining their aggressiveness when it comes to attacking the basket. In the second half of game one, they dished it outside way too much in my opinion when the Spurs’ big men collapsed. It may be sound basketball in getting it to the open man, but if the outside shots aren’t falling as they weren’t for Miami, then you have to attack the goal.
Battier, Cole Must Show Up – Shane Battier and Norris Cole were a combined one of four from the beyond the arc Thursday night with Battier missing all three. He finished with a goose egg while Cole had five points in 17 minutes. These guys by no means have to go for 20 points, but they have to do a better job hitting some shots. The pressure on LeBron James and Dwyane Wade is enough as it is.
The Pick Tonight… The Spurs enter tonight as six point underdogs with the over/under at 188. I just cannot see the Heat going down 0-2 heading to San Antonio. Perhaps bigger than that, I can’t get away from that earlier stat about following up losses. I like the Heat to cover tonight and I like the over as well.