SAN ANTONIO — The overriding theme for the Miami Heat at practice on Wednesday was to put the lack of effort they brought to their blowout Game 3 loss behind them, and focus on making the necessary adjustments to ensure the same thing doesn’t happen again in Game 4.
LeBron James guaranteed that he personally will turn things around.
“I played like s—,” he said. “I take full responsibility for our team’s performance last night. Me as a leader, I can’t afford to perform like I did last night and expect us to win on the road. It’s that simple. So I’m putting all the pressure on my chest, on my shoulders to come through for our team. That’s the way it is.”
James didn’t shoot the ball well in Game 3, especially from midrange where he made just one of his nine attempts. While finishing with 15 points is obviously a concern, the level of aggression he played with was what he saw as the bigger issue that needs to immediately be corrected.
“I have to do whatever it takes,” James said. “I mean, 7‑for‑21 isn’t going to cut it. Zero free throws. I had 11 rebounds, I had 5 assists, but 7‑for‑21 and zero free throws ain’t going to cut it. So I will be better tomorrow.”
“You can’t have both,” James explained. “If you go 7‑for‑21, but you get to the free‑throw line ten‑plus times, you’re being aggressive. You have to be able to shoot the ball at a high clip from the field if you’re not going to the free‑throw line. You can’t have both. It’s impossible for me to go 7‑for‑21, shoot 33% from the field and not have free throws. You have to figure out ways offensively that you can make an impact.”
The Heat have shown a consistent ability to bounce back after losses this season, and have usually done so in convincing fashion. As recently as Game 2 of the Finals, the Heat won by 19 after dropping a close one at home to open the series.
Miami’s head coach Erik Spoelstra believes his team possesses the necessary confidence in its ability to do it once more, and specifically expects James to be the one who leads the way.
“Look, we have great confidence from our guys and their ability to bounce back and respond in a big way,” Spoelstra said. “And that’s all our focus is the next 24 hours, how do we prepare ourselves to play our best game of the series tomorrow night. That’s the only thing that matters. LJ has proven himself enough in this league and on the biggest stage. He is going to … he’ll be better.”
James is certain of it.
“I’m just confident in my ability,” he said. “And my teammates are going to put me in positions to succeed, and the coaching staff will put us in positions to succeed. I’m a positive guy. I love the game. I have fun with the game.”
“As dark as it was last night, can’t get no darker than that, especially for me,” James said. “So I guarantee I’ll be better tomorrow for sure.”