It’s amazing how one loss can change damn near everything – thoughts, beliefs, confidence, betting lines and odds.
Just when it seemed like everyone and their baby mommas were predicting the Heat would win the series (rhythm over rust, remember?), the Game 1 loss redirected thoughts like car salesmen.
How soon people forget. How fast they lose faith. This is the same way the Heat began the Finals last year and look how that ended. If there is anything that can be held both true and against this team is that they almost by-nature get better as a series goes on.
The Heat are like Floyd Mayweather Jr. that way. The longer the fight, the more surgical they become.
But this is far from the Thunder they’re fighting. Not this time. This is not a team that is overwhelmed by the stage or shook by the circumstances. This is Tim, Tony, Manu and Gregg. Basketball’s Beatles outplayed the Heatles in Game 1. And if the Heat don’t find a way to pull out a Game 2 victory, Mills Lane may step in call and the series over before it’s actually over.
To avoid that, the Heat have to do one simple thing: play the last five minutes of the game the way they do the first 43. They can ill-afford to breakdown in the game’s final moments — with the game still undecided — and have more turnovers in the backend of the fourth than they did in the entire game.
Just as Shane Battier said, “It’s going to come down to the fourth quarter again. It’s going to come down to execution, like it often does when two good teams play each other.”
Game 2 for the Heat is not about their passive aggressiveness, not about their will or resolve, not about LeBron asserting himself and being “more Michael than Magic,” not about how teams that have won Game 1 have gone on to win the series 71 percent of the time. It’s about whether or not Miami has it in them to play perfect basketball.
Well, not perfect, but closer to the perfection that “Ringo” Popovich is going to expect from his team.