THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Wade will give it his best for Heat

By Gary Washburn
Globe Staff / April 25, 2010

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MIAMI — Not even another picturesque South Florida day yesterday could do anything to take away the shock and regret the Heat felt about Friday night’s 100-98 Game 3 defeat to the Celtics.

Coach Erik Spoelstra said all the right things about the possibility Miami can pull an ’04 Red Sox and beat the Celtics four straight times in their Eastern Conference first-round series. He claimed the emotional residue from that deflating loss on a Paul Pierce buzzer-beater is gone.

Game 4 is this afternoon and with major roster changes eventually facing the Heat, the goal yesterday seemed to convince the media — and perhaps themselves — they still can make this a competitive series. Miami has been close in Games 1 and 3, only to falter down the stretch. No NBA team ever has come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a series and the Heat didn’t seem quite over the most pivotal play of the series, Pierce’s 21-footer.

Spoelstra lamented not fouling because the Heat could have at least limited Boston’s options in the final seconds. Dorell Wright said he regretted not using his length to reach and perhaps knock the ball away.

“[Friday] night’s loss was a tough one to swallow and those are natural emotions of frustration, anger — I went through the gamut of emotions and for a moment felt sorry for myself and for ourselves,’’ Spoelstra said. “But at some point this morning I got it together. This is not about making history or winning four straight. Adversity reveals character and we can reveal ourselves in the next 24 hours.’’

The Heat played the final 11.7 seconds without star guard Dwyane Wade, who left with severe leg cramps and dehydration. Wade practiced yesterday despite soreness.

Wade tallied 34 points Friday night but attempted 11 3-pointers, including one on the final Miami possession.

Though he had successfully driven to the basket for layups, Wade, a 30 percent 3-point shooter in the regular season, settled for the long-range shot. He promised to attempt to return to form but said he is not 100 percent.

“I am going to try to play my game,’’ he said. “So hopefully [the cramps] go away. I played very hard from the tip. You have to play [Game 4] knowing that against this team five out of six times this year [the game] has been decided in the fourth quarter and understand you never know what could happen and play to win. And we’ll do that. And I’m sure it will come down to the end again.’’

“The moment right now is to stay together, not feel sorry for ourselves, not to run and hide, and not to think about vacation,’’ Spoelstra said. “The hard path is to get back to work. The door is not shut on us, we still have an opportunity to make a difference. Our guys know that and really do feel they are going to take that to heart.’’

Spoelstra can point to the 38-15 Celtics run in Game 1, their 44-8 surge in Game 2, and allowing Pierce to get off his customary elbow jumper in Game 3 as the keys to the Heat’s downfall.

Said Wright about defending Pierce’s final shot: “His shot fakes are just as good as his shot. So my goal was to make him shoot a tough shot and not fall for any head fakes. But it’s very tough when someone makes a tough shot like that, and now we have a tough road ahead of us.’’

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