NBA Finals: Heat’s resilience to be tested one more time with backs against wall


Posted at Oct 10 2020 05:45 AM

NBA Finals: Heat’s resilience to be tested one more time with backs against wall 1
Tagged the Finals underdogs, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra stressed his team doesn't "give a sh-- what everybody else thinks" as they fight for survival. Mark J. Terrill, AP

As one should expect by now, the Miami Heat will be as dialed in as ever entering Game 5 of the 2020 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday (US time), especially with their season on the line.

The Heat have had to endure an injury-hit title series, with All-Star big man Bam Adebayo (neck and shoulder) missing Games 2 and 3, and playmaker Goran Dragic (foot) out for 3 games now. 

They both suffered injuries in the opener, and Miami's roster has been at a disadvantage since. 

Dragic's status has been upgraded to doubtful ahead of Game 5.

What they lack in personnel, however, they've been making up for in heart, the result of which was a Game 3 win and a scratch-and-claw outing in Game 4 that fell short of victory in the end. 

"It's supposed to get more challenging every step of the way," Spoelstra said. 

"I know the character of our group, and we are still very much committed to what our purpose is."

If its current postseason is any indication, Los Angeles is keen to finish this series in 5. 

According to league stats, the team holding a 3-1 lead in the Finals has always gone on to win the championship, with the Cleveland Cavaliers' victory over the Golden State Warriors in 2016 the only exception. 

That Cavaliers squad featured the Lakers' LeBron James.

In the Western Conference last month, the Denver Nuggets pulled off a pair of 3-1 comebacks, so such a stunning feat is without a more recent precedent. 

If there's a squad that has the cajoles to make that happen now, it's the 5th-seeded Heat, who have overcome the odds to reach this stage behind Spoelstra's shot-calling brilliance and Jimmy Butler's on-court leadership.

"We think it's a really competitive series," said Spoelstra, who has 2 championships and 4 Finals appearances on his resume.

"We have a purpose of why we're here. We're competing for a title, and it's the first team to four wins. There's a lot of different narratives out there.

"We don't give a sh-- what everybody else thinks. This is everything that we wanted this year, an opportunity to fight for, compete for a title, and that hasn't changed at all through these first games." 

Butler, who has been spectacular in these playoffs, echoed his coach's never-say-die mentality.

"Ain't nobody thinking about going home over here," he said. 

"It's not win or go home -- it's win or win. That's how we think about it." -- With a report from Agence France-Presse