DENVER (AFP) — Miami remains confident that it can turn on the Heat against the Denver Nuggets in Game 2 of the National Basketball Association Finals.
The Nuggets dominated in a 104-93 Game 1 triumph in the best-of-seven series on Thursday, when the Heat’s chances were doomed by their inability to connect on shots — including a 33.3 percent success rate from three-point range.
Max Strus was 0-for-10 from the field, Caleb Martin 1-of-7 and Duncan Robinson 1-of-6.
But Heat talisman Jimmy Butler — himself held to 13 points — said he has a simple message for those teammates, who have played a key role in making Miami the second eighth-seeded team ever to reach an NBA Finals.
“Stay aggressive, because you’ve been the reason that we have won so many games before,” Butler said Saturday as the team practiced in Denver in preparation for the game on Sunday (Monday in Manila).
“You are going to be the reason that we win games now. and that’s never going to change.”
The Heat collectively agreed — in the immediate aftermath of Thursday’s defeat and after studying game video — that they had plenty of good opportunities in Game 1.
“We did see some things that we liked and we got some great looks, myself included,” Strus said. “We’ve got to knock those down, and we’ve got great shooters on our team, and we will knock those down.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said it wouldn’t take much to open the floodgates.
“In terms of the shooters, that’s pretty simple,” Spoelstra said. “Let it fly. Ignite.”
“Once they see two go down, it could be three, it could turn into six just like that,” he added with a snap of his fingers. “As long as we are getting those clean looks, that’s what matters.”
Butler said there are other adjustments to be made after a game in which the Heat got to the free-throw line just twice — a record low for an NBA playoff game.
“I think I’ve got to be more aggressive putting pressure on the rim,” he said. “I think that makes everybody’s job a lot easier.”
And Butler said there was no sense of panic in a Heat team that saw a 3-0 lead against Boston evaporate before it finished off the Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.
“We’re okay, we really are,” he said.
“We are very calm. We are very collected. We still have so much confidence, still.”
“It’s not going anywhere. We’re going to believe in one another, always, no matter what, home or away — And we’re still going to get four (wins).”