Heat look to move on after Game 1 rout


May 16

When is a loss simply a loss?

Is there a psychological difference in losing a close game, as the Heat did three times to the Bulls during the regular season, as compared to being blown out, as Miami was by Chicago in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals?

Heat forward LeBron James offered one perspective prior to his team’s practice on the University of Illinois at Chicago campus Monday.

“It’s just one win,” James said defiantly of Chicago’s 103-82 Game 1 victory. “We could lose by a hundred, but we’re in the playoffs and it’s just one game. They beat us by [21 points] but they don’t get two wins off last night. It’s just one game.”

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra agreed, offering that he’ll press his team to forget about the opening game result while addressing the shortcomings.

“We’re disappointed about last night’s game, but we still have an opportunity,” said Spoelstra. “Sometimes you have to have amnesia going into Game 2. Now, you can’t just let it go. The next two and a half days, we’re going to work to fix some of these challenges that we had last night. We have to understand Wednesday is a golden opportunity for us.”

The Heat’s downfall in the second half, in which Chicago outscored Miami 55-34, was at least in part due to allowing Chicago too many second chance points (Bulls had 31 in the game compared to the Heat’s eight) and points off turnovers (Bulls with 22 in the game).

“Any time you hold a team like that and play defense for 22 seconds, then give up an offensive rebound and they kick out for threes or get layups or dunks, it demoralizes you,” acknowledged James. “We got to do a better job cleaning up the glass.”

Though Chris Bosh did his share, recording 30 points and nine rebounds, he didn’t get much help in the post. Starting center Joel Anthony was scoreless in 30 minutes, but did grab six boards. The Heat, though, were severely outrebounded by the Bulls for a fourth straight meeting, this time 45-33. During the regular season, it was a 131-99 advantage held by Chicago.

Bosh readily admits that is an area in which they must improve.

“It’s just mental focus,” Bosh said of getting better on the boards. “It’s something we can fix. We just have to man up to the mistakes, look at it, and be like, ‘OK, this is what we have to do.’ At a point now in the playoffs, you can’t practice every day. We have to stay healthy and most of the learning is going to have to be on film if we’re going to make adjustments.”

“We know we got it handed to us and it’s all about moving on,” Bosh added. “We just have to get better.”

Miami will get that chance in Game 2 on Wednesday when the best-of-seven series continues in Chicago.

“We all know, obviously, the effort plays, the second chance opportunities, all of those things really deflated our focus and our concentration and effort in the second half,” said Spoelstra of Game 1. “With all that said, and with all the evaluations about the game, we are still in a position to take control with a win on Wednesday. This whole series will be about enduring and how long can you endure through the physical grind, but just as importantly, the mental grind because it’s two very competitive, physical teams.”

On that note, it’s a safe bet that James and Dwyane Wade will be eager to get back on the floor for Game 2 after performances well below their normal offensive output in Game 1. Wade, averaging 25.5 points per game in 11 playoff appearances, was limited to 18 points, while James (25.1 ppg) scored 15.

“You treat every game like its own,” reiterated James of his mentality. “That’s why this is a series. You see some of the mistakes you made in Game 1; some of the things we can control and you come in with a better mindset, try to get Game 2.”

When asked if a more assertive effort was coming, James kept his comments brief.

“We will,” stated James. “We’re not worried about ourselves.”

Though Miami has now lost four games in a row to Chicago, they remain confident that they can make the necessary adjustments.

“We know we can win,” said James. “We just got to go and do the small things. We can’t continue to get outrebounded by this team.”

Wade echoed his teammate’s comments, saying the areas in need of improvement have been identified. Now, it’s just a matter of correcting them.

“We knew they were great at the little things—offensive rebounding, getting second chance points,” said Wade of the Bulls. “We did what we wanted to do on the defensive end; we just didn’t take care of the ball.

“We can take losing, that’s a part of the game,” added Wade. “But losing that way is just not the way the Miami Heat lose.”

Whether the Heat truly adopt the ‘a win is a win and a loss is a loss’ mentality, the Bulls can count on facing a team that will have an extra chip on its shoulder in Game 2.

“That’s what this series is about, endurance, mental and physical endurance,” said Spoelstra. “Who can play their game more consistently than the other team? They did that [in Game 1]; we are an effort team, an athletic team; we did not show it.”

Wade OK with Gibson’s posterizing dunk

Give Dwyane Wade credit, for being the unwilling recipient of a vicious Taj Gibson dunk in the first half, he’s handled it well. And if he thought he was exempt from the teasing around his sons, well, he had to think again.

Wade reported the following on his Twitter account Tuesday morning: “I had 2 laugh at ths..I was playing my oldest son Zaire on his nerf rim & he dunked & said Gibson while screaming..L2MS Kids u gotta luv em.”

When asked about it again, he provided another good natured response.

“It made me smile, made me laugh,” said Wade. “My son is a basketball player. He loves his Dad, but he loves the game as well. He appreciated Taj’s dunk on me.”

Audio—Miami’s LeBron James and Dwyane Wade meet the media prior to practice (05.16.2011):

Audio—Heat coach Erik Spoelstra at Tuesday’s practice (05.16.2011):

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