Please don’t inquire.
Do not inquire as to how the Miami Heat will be able to get Game 6 on Friday night in order to extend the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Denial isn’t a viable strategy. Hope isn’t a viable option. “We’re getting our shots,” the Florida Panthers said on their route to a three-goal-in-four-games departure.
“We got shots in our wheelhouse,” Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, whom I absolutely and unregrettably root for, said among the ruins of the Heat’s Game 5 loss, which rested upon the ruins of their Game 4 loss.
The Heat have a history of requiring a Game 6 in Boston to keep their season alive. It happened in the year 2012. The entire sports nation criticized and doubted them in a way that no one publicly relishes doing these days.
In 2012, LeBron James had a game similar to Larry Csonka‘s in Super Bowl VIII and Josh Beckett’s in Yankee Stadium — a once-in-a-lifetime 45-point and 15-point performance to storm the gates and lead the Big Three to the next stop on the road to an NBA title.
On Friday night, who will fill LeBron’s shoes?
Since Peyton Pritchard grabbed his knee and strained it in Game 3, Jimmy Butler has shot 7 of 32. As a result, Pritchard earns the Eastern Conference Finals MVP.
Kyle Lowry, whose hamstring is either hamstrung or will be for the next two contracted seasons, had no points, no assists, and one grateful rebound in the Heat’s sad Game 5 loss.
Robert Williams is Bam Adebayo’s Celtic-green Kryptonite. Adebayo had 31 points in Game 3 when Williams was benched. In the other four games, Adebayo averaged a shoulder-shrugging of 10.7 points per game.
Right now, that’s the Heat’s Big Three. They resemble the bandaged fife-and-drum corps returning to New England.
Please do not misunderstand: This is a tough, Heat-worthy club that has won two playoff series and taken the conference finals nearly to a best-of-seven tiebreaker. So, in a season that has provided the goods and a market where any club reaching this position would be praised, there will be no snide criticism or whining about their fading offense.
But, wouldn’t it be beyond-LeBron-like for this team to win Game 6?
After Game 5, Spoelstra was discussing the Heat’s strong shots and how if you “remove the emotion” and look at the cold, hard data like he did on the stat sheet before him, you can…
He admitted, “OK, yeah, that’s not a fantastic 3-point percentage.”
The Heat 7 for 45 minutes. Which one is the worst? Which is more important: the seven correct answers or the 45 tries?
“It was felt by all of us,” Spoelstra added. “It was visible to all of us.” They have a fantastic defense. We’re not going to score 130 points. I’m looking to see if we’re getting shots that are in our wheelhouse, ones that are in our strength zone. I’m well aware of our team’s combustible nature. That may happen quickly, especially on the road.
As I previously stated, Spoelstra has the ability to coach my team in any sport at any time. In these trying circumstances, a great coach must do what a great coach must do. He’s emphasizing the good aspects of the situation.
“Those open threes are the shots we’ve been making all year,” Spoelstra said. “Our guys have a lot of fire in them.” Our guys saw ten of these individuals leaving while you only see two or three.”
He’s also avoiding queries about his health. “No excuses,” Spoelstra insisted when asked about Butler’s injured knee.
Late Wednesday night, Philadelphia center Joel Embiid tweeted, “Miami needs another Star.” Him? His career could benefit from the Heat’s atmosphere. He’s also correct in saying that the Heat could benefit from a healthy Butler or Lowry right now.
Of course, Spoelstra has been here before. When compared to the pressures of 2012, this is childish stuff. Maybe Grandpa Haslem can describe what it was like in the locker room that season when everyone was against them. By comparison, this year’s Heat team does not elicit emotion.
Game 6 is still on the horizon.
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“You have to have fun with this,” Spoelstra said. “Yes, you do.” You’ll have to accomplish some extremely difficult stuff every time you want to break through and punch your ticket to the finals. Getting to Boston and working everything out together.
For the rest of your life, those are the emotions and breakthroughs you will experience. And then bring it back on the 29th. That was the extent of our discussion.”
This would be a game-changing innovation. By South Florida standards, LeBron had a historic game. Is there anyone on the Heat who is good enough or healthy enough to play that role this time in Boston?