Road-perfect Heat ready to rumble in Indiana anew
INDIANAPOLIS, United States -- Defending NBA champion Miami, unbeaten away from home in five playoff games this year, approaches Tuesday's critical contest at Indiana looking forward to a hostile atmosphere.
"We've been able to come out and bring that championship pedigree with us and give ourselves a chance on the road," Heat guard Dwyane Wade said. "All you can do on the road is give yourselves a chance. And we've played pretty well."
Miami rolled over the host Pacers 114-96 on Sunday to seize a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals. The winner will meet either San Antonio or Memphis in the NBA Finals that begin on June 6.
Asked to explain the Heat's road success, NBA Most Valuable Player LeBron James said he and his teammates simply enjoy a challenge.
'It's the adversity'
"I just think it's the adversity, the opponents' fans, that we love to come in and try to take a game from a team on their home floor," James said.
"We love feeling like it's just us by ourselves and against everyone else. The challenge we're always up for."
Wade said the Heat, who won a league-high 66 games in the regular season, sense there is a reduced margin for error in away games.
"It's a tough environment. You've really got to be locked in," Wade said. "At home you can make mistakes. You can get away with it. When you're playing at home, you know your crowd, their energy. On the road you can't make as many mistakes."
The Heat made a narrow escape in game one, needing a James layup at the buzzer to eke out a one-point victory over Indiana, and lost game two, but a victory at Indianapolis would put them on the brink of returning to the final.
"As a team all together, we're able to play off each other," Wade said. "Whoever has it going, we can always just pull in."
Often it is James who has the hot hand, whether taking the shots or forcing double coverage that leaves a teammate open for a quick pass and a clear shot.
Pick your poison
"It's pick your poison, honestly," James said. "If you're going to double me, I'll find my shooters. If you're going to play me one-on-one, I'm going to be aggressive and look for my shot."
Adapting to what he finds from rivals is the biggest challenge for the four-time NBA Most Valuable Player.
"I just read the game," he said. "I see how they're playing me in the post, seeing if they are allowing me to get multiple dribbles down there or if they come right away. I just see what the game gives me and I go from there."
Wade realizes that when James is giving up the ball to him, the pressure is on to make the long-range jump shot.
"He's one of the great passers in this game so obviously they're going to make some adjustments," Wade said. "Our outside shooters have to be ready to shoot the ball. We've got to make them pay for it if they double him."
In game three, Miami blistered the Pacers early in what James called the Heat's best offensive half of the post-season.
"It's the best we've had in the playoffs for sure this year," he said. "To score 70 points, especially against a team like this that defends so well. It was big time." - Rappler.com