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Preview: Heat believe effort and a focused LeBron are keys to Game 4 of the Finals

Jun 13, 2013, 1:02 PM EDT

LeBron James

SAN ANTONIO — The Miami Heat have made a habit of bouncing back after a poor performance this season, and they hope that Thursday night’s Game 4 will be no different.

Following a 36-point loss in which the Spurs shot historically well from three-point distance, and managed to hold LeBron James without a free throw on the way to just 15 points on 7-of-21 shooting, the Heat were focused on making sure that they bring the required effort to what James characterized as a must-win game for them in the series.

“It’s just something we’ve grown into over the years, being able to bounce back in adverse situations,” James said on Wednesday. “And no matter the circumstances, this is going to be probably one of the toughest, because we’re going against a team with championship DNA and a championship pedigree on their floor in a must‑win.”

Despite the struggles James had on the offensive end of the floor, Game 3 turned on the lack of effort from the Miami defense, particularly in the second half. The Spurs made nine of their 16 three-pointers over the final two periods, and those shots, especially at home, can swing momentum fast.

Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra knows that his team needs to do a better job in limiting those opportunities — and mainly, closing out on the shooters — to avoid seeing a similar result.

“We have to do it better,” Spoelstra said. “We have a system that we believe in, that guys have built habits in. They need each other to be able to do it. Is it easy at this level? No. It never is. And it’s not easy for them to guard us, either. You have to be able to do multiple things against a very good team, and you have to have multiple efforts with concentration and discipline to be able to win in the Finals at this level.”

There was a possibility the Spurs may have been without Tony Parker on Thursday, who was officially listed as day-to-day after suffering a Grade 1 hamstring strain that forced him out of action in the third quarter of Game 3. Parker did not practice on Wednesday, and while he wouldn’t speculate on his availability for Game 4, he hinted that with this being the Finals, he would be likely to give it a shot.

Parker’s clues became fact on Thursday, when he confirmed to reporters that he is “ready to go” and will play in Game 4. But the outcome is likely to hinge on what version of LeBron shows up.

James was dismal in Game 3, and guaranteed he’d be better the next time he got the chance. What that should translate to is more drives to the basket to make the Spurs defend him on the move, which will put pressure on the officials to blow the whistle if he’s receiving contact while trying to score inside.

“I have to try to put more pressure on the defense,” James said. “Not saying the whistle is going to be blown, but putting pressure on their defensive interior and for myself to kick it out for my guys, I have to do that. That’s what I was brought here to do. And it can’t be anything less than that.”

The reality is that anything less than maximum aggression from LeBron will see the Spurs move one game closer to an NBA title.

  1. gmsingh123 - Jun 13, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    The new Heat motto: Dare to dream.

    • 808raiderinparadise - Jun 13, 2013 at 3:58 PM

      The best single peformance on HEAT was Chalmers in game 2 ….

      uhhhh????? Everyone points fingers but Spoelstra is getting schooled by Pop …

      Spo have no clue, Myabe Pat and him have a long sit-down and change the philosophy a bit….

      Largely LeBron has been bad, very, but game 1 coulda gone either way and both teams had blow-out wins on thier home courts ….

      Panic only sets in if HEAT lose this one

      • sportsfan18 - Jun 13, 2013 at 4:21 PM

        Pop schools a lot of coaches out there… Spo isn’t chopped liver though. I didn’t think he’d last this long when he got the job, but he isn’t Pop, but then again no one else is either. The Spurs have been a well run organization for a long time. Many from their organization are all over the NBA in teams front offices… coaching etc… and that speaks volumes to their organization.

        I have the Heat winning tonight to make it 2 games a piece. I have the Spurs winning game 5 making it 3 games to 2.

        Game 6, to me, will decide the series. If the Spurs are able to win it, then it would be over obviously. But if the Heat win game 6, I have them winning a game 7 there in Florida…

        I want the Spurs to win, but I fear that the Heat will still win the series…

  2. itsonlyaspeedbump - Jun 13, 2013 at 1:29 PM

    Im a staunch Lebron defender, but I’ll echo whats been said numerous times in the last couple days–game 3 was a pathetic and alarming display from the consensus best player in the NBA. I was reminded of his game 6 no-show against another team from Texas in the Finals 2 years ago.

    I think he has to do a Kobe game, 12/28 shooting but gets to the free-throw line 10 or 11 times. If he doesn’t score 35-38 points, the Heat will lose this game. The Spurs championship will be a formality, and we can look forward to a summer full of repetitive ‘Where will Dwight Howard play?’ and ‘Lebron James sucks’ basketball coverage.

  3. miamatt - Jun 13, 2013 at 1:42 PM

    I agree 100% with the headline. Effort and energy needs to be focused on the defensive end for Miami- that suffocating D they are capable of playing is what it will take to win this series. As far as LeBron, he has to go into game 4 with the mindset that he is going to drill those open midrange shots, and then he can start to attack and get his teammates involved.

  4. breastfedted - Jun 13, 2013 at 2:22 PM

    Another key for the Heat will be whether David Stern decides to start the expected rigging the officiating in their favor in Game 4

    • hehateme2 - Jun 13, 2013 at 3:01 PM

      Such an old and tired statement. Have you ever had an original thought troll?

      • miamatt - Jun 13, 2013 at 4:43 PM

        Don’t worry about the thumbs down, you are 100% on the money.

  5. PayBizzy - Jun 13, 2013 at 6:31 PM

    Lol so now he wasnt focused? Whats the next excuse

  6. kb2408 - Jun 13, 2013 at 7:59 PM

    I mean, this is a joke, right?!! LeBron is in his tenth season, in the absolute prime of his career, playing in the NBA Finals, with his legacy on the line and we’re talking about his lack of FOCUS, INTENSITY, CONFIDENCE??? And “this” is the player some have foolishly compared to MJ?! When has MJ’s, Kobe’s, Bird’s or Magic’s confidence or focus ever been questioned?? Kobe played with the possibility of going to prison over his head and played better than usual. MJ played sick and with a heavy heart from his father’s tragic death and still dominated. The LAKERS lost Kareem in Magic ‘s rookie season….we know what he went out and did! LeBron has more physical talent than any of them but only a fraction of their heart and will to dominate the opponent.

  7. dougeshea - Jun 13, 2013 at 8:31 PM

    Lebron does not compare to the NBA greats, he a dirty basketball player, if you don’t believe it, watch him play closely. I have no respect for him.

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