After dealing the Bulls their worst loss in playoff franchise history Wednesday night in Miami, the Heat realize that the physical tenor of the series will continue in Friday’s Game 3, meaning that the game officials — including longtime referee Joey Crawford, known as a man with little tolerance for on-court shenanigans — will be on high alert.
But Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra is unconcerned.
“Who cares? It has no impact on the game,” he said after the team’s morning shootaround at the United Center. “I don’t know if there’s a whole lot more to say. I think everything’s been said in the last 24 hours. Both teams are looking forward to tipping this thing off tonight.
“You have to be competitive on the floor, in the air and in Game 1, they put us on our heels. We were a little bit more competitive, tougher disposition in Game 2 and we know they’ll bring a tougher response, and we’ll have to, as well.”
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Among the repercussions of the nine-technical foul Game 2 Heat win was a $25,000 fine levied upon the Bulls’ Taj Gibson for verbal abuse of an official as he was ejected in the fourth quarter, along with Miami guard Mario Chalmers’ technical foul being upgraded to a flagrant-1.
Spoelstra understands that his team has been steeled.
“Well, we’ve been in tough environments before. Our guys love these type of games and environments. These are the games you’ll look back on years from now. you wish you could do anything to come back and have an opportunity to play. On the road, in a game that matters and our experience has taught us that you have to be able to weather a lot of different things. All the emotions, the ups and downs, there will be a lot of swings going back and forth. We want to give ourselves a chance there at the end,” he explained. “We’ve been through a lot. We’ve been through a tremendous amount of everything in the last three years. But also, this group is built with individuals that have a tough mental makeup, that are very competitive. The more competitive the situation, the more they respond usually and then collectively, we’ve developed some resolve. Now, all those experiences and everything that we’ve had and tough road wins and playoff wins, that doesn’t guarantee you anything. We still have to go out and earn it and we know we’ll have to do that tonight.”
Miami veteran Udonis Haslem echoed his coach’s sentiments.
“We just want to compete, man. We’re going to have to compete in order to beat this team. They’re hard-playing, very physical team, so in order for us to win and be successful against these guys, we’re going to have to match their physicality and play with the same amount of intensity they do,” the rugged power forward told CSNChicago.com. “I just like to play hard. I like to play hard on both ends of the floor, I like to compete, so yeah, it’s a very competitive series and it’s fun out there.”