There’s not much more to say
Players are aware what is at stake
MIAMI - Given the sharply shifting opinions and outlooks during the Eastern Conference finals, the Heat have learned to tune it all out ahead of Game 7 Saturday night.
“That’s the world we’ve really tried to live in, is the world of the reality of our team,’’ coach Erik Spoelstra said Friday. “Everything else is noise and somebody else’s truth. I’ve said this time and time again, you can get whiplash if you try to follow every story line that’s going on on the outside. And all it can be is very energy-sapping if you’re paying attention to it, and very distracting.’’
Declarations from analysts and fans have ranged from the Celtics are too old to win, to the Heat can’t win in Boston, LeBron James can’t rise to big occasions, Spoelstra needs to be fired, and every drastic conclusion in between. But every twist and turn just ended up leading to Game 7 at AmericanAirlines Arena, and who knows what’s going to happen?
“I think both teams will come out with the appropriate level of urgency,’’ Spoelstra said. “That’s the beauty of a Game 7. We fought and earned the right to have this on our home court. We don’t take that for granted and we don’t assume that’ll take care of anything.’’
The Heat and Celtics have taken turns having off nights and getting Herculean performances.
And at this point, there isn’t much more to say to prepare the players for a win-or-go-home game.
“The guys have built up a resiliency and mental toughness to stay the course and stay focused,’’ Spoelstra said. “This group doesn’t get too high or too low, too jittery or anything. If anything, the big lights, the moments like [Thursday] or moments like [Saturday] are the ones that these guys froth at the mouth for.’’
Rounding into form
Saturday’s game will be Chris Bosh’s third since returning from an abdominal injury that had kept him out since the first game of the Eastern Conference semifinals. He is gradually being asked to do more and his input is being taken seriously.
“We need good communication during the game,’’ Spoelstra said. “He asked to come out twice. It’s not a normal rotation where we’re slotting, ‘OK, you’re going to play this many minutes, you’re going to come out and rest this many minutes.’ It’s on the fly and [the Celtics are] going through the same thing. But we’re able to give him enough rest and get back in there and allow him to be effective.’’
Over the last two years, Spoelstra has referred to Bosh as the most important player on the team because of the things he does to make the offense and defense work. The Heat had to change their approach without Bosh and are in the process of changing back as he’s able to play more minutes.
“This series has changed for both teams if you look at who’s playing and the amount of minutes,’’ Spoelstra said. “[Thursday] compared to Game 1, there’s been a dramatic shift, but everybody’s pure about it and it’s whatever it takes, however small that role may seem.’’
Miami has looked to rookie Norris Cole, veteran shooter Mike Miller, and defensive specialist Joel Anthony to fill in with important minutes.
Although the Heat had Friday off, Bosh came to the arena for a workout.
“That says a lot about him, that he knows he has to continue to fight to gain his rhythm and to keep on trying to get closer to that form that he was playing at at the end of the year, which was his best basketball,’’ Spoelstra said. “We don’t need him to play at that level to win, he just needs to continue to help us win in ways that make us different. We’re a different basketball team when he’s on the court.’’
Though the Heat can’t necessarily expect James to repeat his Game 6 performance (45 points and 15 rebounds in 45 minutes), they’ll be calling on him to have a big impact on Game 7.
“It was a fearless performance and it will probably go down as a historic performance,’’ Spoelstra said. “We needed every bit and minute of it. And maybe we’ll need that again. But he’s a brilliant basketball player that will read the game, and whatever we need, maybe it’s more assists [Saturday], maybe it’s rebounds, who knows? But he’ll be there.’’