MORE GAME 4 NEWS
There is no data to display.
Despite the claims on favorable officiating on their part -- that drew Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau a $35,000 fine on Sunday -- it’s nothing the Miami Heat haven’t heard or haven't encountered before.
“We’ve seen everything. None of this is new to us,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Nobody can hide from the fact that the games will be decided between those four lines. Our guys understand that.”
The Heat felt fortunate to come away with a victory in Game 3, knowing they didn’t play to the level they’re accustomed to. The focus for Game 4 is getting off to a better start on both sides of the ball as they know the Chicago Bulls will play with a sense of desperation.
“It’s concentration. It’s not a matter of want and not necessarily bringing effort. It’s focusing on details,” Spoelstra said. “For us, on both ends of the court, we had mental, lackadaisical plays, where on offense, we didn’t get to our spacing, got pinned in some areas that are not comfortable for us and they win those battles. Every little detail matters. Defensively, it’s really dialing in and getting up into them and making them feel our presence. They’re pretty comfortable at the start of both (Game 1 and 3).”
[RELATED -- Outside the Score: Bulls-Heat Game 4]
Even with a 2-1 lead in the series, Dwayne Wade’s health has been a popular topic of discussion. He took just seven shots in Game 3 in 36 minutes of action.
The veteran guard has averaged just 13.3 points per game during the playoffs, shooting 45.8 percent from the floor, which is a steep decline from his regular season averages of 21.2 points per game on 52.1 percent shooting.
While it’s clear he isn’t quite his usual self, Spoelstra praised Wade’s maturity and intelligence in making the right plays throughout the series and planned on getting him some more looks tonight in the post.
“We’ll try to break him free and get him attack opportunities in the paint through a few different ways," Spoelstra said. "At the same time, we ran some of his plays and he was making very mature, unselfish decisions. He was forcing two (defenders) on the ball, we were moving it. Now our point guards are the recipients of second actions. If they let up on any of these actions, Dwyane is savvy enough to know when he’s able to attack and get to the rim. He’s been playing very poised with a team ego and it’s been necessary. Play in the playoffs and you get deeper into a round like this – both teams are good defensively – you don’t know where you’re scoring is going to come from. You must have a team ego. You must move the ball and be OK with different guys making plays on different possessions.”
One of those recipients of the Miami’s team ego in Game 3 was Norris Cole. The second-year point guard scored 18 points and six-of-seven shooting. In the series, Cole has shot 16-of -20 from the floor and has hit all eight of his three-pointers.
[RELATED: Bulls working on shutting down Heat's newest option]
He was unaware of his production, saying he didn’t know of his stats until the team received their scouting reports today.
“I knew I was shooting the ball well, but that was just because it felt good," he said. "Whether I was making or missing shots, it felt good.”
The Heat know the Bulls would not like to go back to Miami down 3-1. But as much as it is must-win for their opponent, the Heat have taken the same approach as they don’t want to come back to Chicago for a Game 6.
“In the playoffs, every game is must-win,” Chris Bosh said. “Every game is must win. You take that approach; everything else will take care of itself. We can’t get into contingencies and what-ifs. We just have to take care of tonight, focus on what we’re supposed to do, do our jobs and hopefully we can win the game.”