Mixed feelings as COVID clip snowbirds wings
Have you heard about the SaltWire News app?
Daily fall forecasts and weather facts from Cindy Day
SaltWire's cartoonists bring heart and humour to the news.
SaltWire Selects: Stories you don't want to miss
What you need to know about COVID-19: October 20, 2020
Precedent is not on the side of the Miami Heat in these NBA Finals.
The 3-1 hole they have dug themselves is not a comfortable place to be either from an advantageous position or a historical one.
To put it in context, NBA playoff history has seen 358 instances where a series reached 3-1. To date, only 13 times in those 358 instances has the trailing team come back to win.
Only once in league history has a team trailing 3-1 in the NBA Finals come back to win. LeBron James knows all about that one, having spearheaded it along with Kyrie Irving just four years ago as the Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green helped open the door to that comeback when he earned a Game 5 suspension for his fourth flagrant foul of the playoffs in the dying moments of Game 4.
But this is where the Heat now find themselves, on the cusp of elimination.
Not only must they fight the historically poor odds of coming all the way back, they also have to fight what has to be an overwhelming urge to just get the hell out of Dodge … er, Disney.
Give or take a few days, the two teams still playing are celebrating their three-month anniversary on the NBA campus today and while it has done wonders to prevent any spread whatsoever of the coronavirus, it has also been a three-month incarceration of sorts as each and every member of the NBA bubble has lived under countless rules and numerous restrictions in order to keep the NBA’s temporary home virus-free.
It’s not for everyone and certainly not for the weak of heart. The Miami Heat may be just a bit different than the rest.
The Heat have blossomed in his confined space finding comfort in being secluded and forced together day after day in an endless loop of meetings and practices and walk-throughs and card games.
The common goal of an NBA championship has been enough to drive away any interfering thoughts and keep this group laser-focused on the task at hand.
It is why they, perhaps more than any other team to have played in this re-start, can’t necessarily be counted out just because they find themselves facing elimination against a similarly laser-focussed Lakers squad.
“Our guys love competition and love the challenge,” Head head coach Erik Spoelstra said following Tuesday’s loss in Game 4. “We are here for a purpose. We never expected this to be easy. We’ll just rest and recover (Wednesday). I think everybody could probably use that a little bit. Recalibrate. Get back to work on Thursday. I know our group’s going to be ready.”
Normally words like these from a man coaching a team down to its last life are met with a “Good for you. Way to stay positive” response. Of course, these are far from normal times.
Spoelstra isn’t just saying these words to appear confident. He believes them.
And so do his team, led by the man whose picture should be in the dictionary beside the word confident — Jimmy Butler.
Butler was asked post-game why his team’s confidence isn’t affected by the seemingly long odds of coming back in this series.
“I don’t think that it should,” Butler replied matter-of-factly. “I just think we’re so comfortable with who we are and how we play that that’s what we’re going to go out there and do. We’re going to live with the end result. Obviously we want it to be a win, but we just got to lock in on us, knowing that we can control a lot of these things.
“But our confidence ain’t going nowhere, it’s going to stay high, I’m going to make sure that it stays high, because it’s going to have to be at an all-time high to get this next win.”
Tyler Herro, the 20-year-old marvel now playing like a seasoned vet in these playoffs for the Heat, was asked how the Heat would respond in Game 5 with so little room for error.
Like Butler, Herro didn’t pause or stall to come up with an answer. He had it at the ready.
“Bring that same energy and that same focus that we had coming into tonight and last game,” he said simply. “We are down 3-1 so our backs are once again against the wall. We’re going to have to fight. The series is not over. We have a hard task ahead, but we have the right guys and the right group to get it done.”
No one is predicting the Heat will come all the way back from this deficit. It’s not like the Lakers haven’t shown a clear dominance at times in this series with the special two-headed monster of James and Anthony Davis, and then the often-overlooked support form the likes of Rajon Rondo, Kyle Kuzma, Alex Caruso and now even Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
It’s highly unlikely the Heat can run off three wins in a row against that kind of top-heavy star power.
But don’t bet against them extending this series. They were kind of built for these circumstances.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020