SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - The Miami Heat have won 12 straight playoff games following a loss, a streak they will need to keep alive on Sunday to avoid going into an ominous 0-2 hole against the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals.
LeBron James credits postseason experience for the team’s ability to bounce back, while Dwyane Wade says the chief reason is more a product of X’s and O’s on the chalkboard.
Whatever the reason, the Heat do not want to return to Miami for Game Three having lost the first two games to the Spurs, who owned the best record (62-20) in the league this season.
With James on the bench suffering from leg cramps, San Antonio went on a 16-3 tear over the last four minutes of Game One and beat Miami 110-95 on Thursday.
“It’s a big‑time possession series and we had some rough possessions, particularly in that fourth quarter,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters on Saturday.
“We would like to clean that up with our execution and efficiency, and not let them flatten us out, where we’re still able to get to our game.”
James said he was “doing a lot better” as he tries to overcome the effects of the cramping.
“The soreness is starting to get out,” said the four-time NBA most valuable player. “I‘m feeling better than I did yesterday and with another day, I should feel much better tomorrow.”
The 10-time All-Star said the Heat, having reached the finals four straight years - winning the title the last two - have the know-how to recover from a playoff loss.
”We have experienced it enough,“ he said. ”Obviously we don’t like to experience losses but it happens. We’re able to bounce back, go to the film room, take account. We don’t just bypass the mistakes we had in the previous game.
“It’s allowed us to move on and better ourselves for the next game.”
Wade said in the film room “we learn from our mistakes, own up to our mistakes, figure out how we can be better coming into the next game and we make those adjustments.”
“I‘m not saying that’s automatic and it means we’re going to win the ballgame,” he said.
“But up to this point it’s worked out for us. Just being consistent, owning up to what we didn’t do well the first game and trying to come out and right our wrong.”
San Antonio has won a record eight straight home playoff game by at least 15 points.
”Our backs are against the wall now,“ said Heat forward Chris Bosh. ”There is not much room for error. We have to make sure we do a very good job. We’ve run out of excuses.
“This team, when we are faced with those situations, being in this so many times before, it brings out the best in us.”
Editing by Gene Cherry