MIAMI (AFP) — The odds are stacked against the Miami Heat as they head into Game 5 of the National Basketball Association Finals on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) trailing 1-3 to the Denver Nuggets but one member of the team knows full well that all is not yet lost.
Heat power forward Kevin Love was part of the Cleveland Cavaliers team that fought back from 1-3 down in the best-of-seven championship series to beat the Golden State Warriors and capture the 2016 title.
Love put up nine points and claimed 14 rebounds in Game 7, helping the Cavs become the first — and so far only — team to rally from a 1-3 finals deficit.
The 34-year-old five-time NBA All Star said the lessons of that comeback are clear for Miami.
“Naturally, when your back is against the wall you start to look for answers, solutions. But we’re a team that as you know has been super resilient,” he said.
“We understand that it’s every possession, it’s one game. I know that’s something that is cliché and everybody says but again, we feel like if we come out, have a good start (Monday), play extremely hard and give ourselves a chance and take it back to Miami, that is right where we want to be.”
Love suggested the pressure is on the Nuggets as they seek to secure their
first-ever championship and avoid another trip back to South Florida.
“It is one of those things where a close-out game is the hardest game of the series, always,” he said.
“Game 5 is always, always a tough game in the series if you can push it there.”
Love has had other things on his mind since Friday’s loss, however, and he traveled separately to Denver as his wife, Kate Bock, gave birth on Saturday.
“Definitely need to get some rest now and get some sleep,” he said.
“Everybody is happy and healthy.”
While the Heat mantra since their 108-95 defeat in Game 4 has emphasized the team’s habit of bouncing back from losses and team spirit, Miami will clearly need to work out how to stop Denver more effectively and be more productive on offense.
In Game 3, 30-point triple doubles from the pairing of Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic proved too much for Miami and while they limited that deadly pairing on Friday, the Nuggets took advantage elsewhere.
Aaron Gordon and Bruce Brown did the damage while the Nuggets were masterful in nullifying the threat from Miami’s shooters.
Starters Max Strus and Gabe Vincent shot just 1-of-10 from the field and didn’t make any of their seven three-point attempts with the Nuggets strictly limiting the number of open three-pointers.
“We need to do a better job, just overall, with our offense, some of the details and how we can shift their defense,” Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said.
“They definitely made an adjustment to try to stay at home on three-point shooters. It’s not the first time we have faced that. I think that’s a great compliment to them and how important they are to our offense.”
“We just have to do it better. There’s certain things that I thought we did great in game three and then there’s different things we did great in Game 4.”
“We just need to put it all together. It might not be perfect but put more things together that are in our strength zones, even against what they are trying to accomplish.”
Heat star Jimmy Butler said he took responsibility for the lack of open threes.
“I have to do a better job of getting guys open, whether it be off the screen or off my attacks, to make sure our shooters get the shots they normally get,” he said.
“All the films that we watch, we’ve got to find ways to do it. It’s not easy. It’s definitely not easy when you’re in the finals. They are paying attention to us as much as we are paying attention to them.”
“But we’ve got to be able to do it if we want to win. We do want to win, so we’ll figure it out.”