Down 0-2 and expecting to be without two key starters, the Miami Heat remain defiant as they look to Game 3 of the NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night in the NBA bubble near Orlando.
“We don’t give a s*** what everybody else thinks,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said in the aftermath of the 124-114 Game 2 loss Friday. “What will it take? Whatever is necessary. Simple as that. If you want something badly enough, you’ll figure it out. Our group is stubborn and persistent, and we just need to figure out how to overcome this opponent.”
Without Bam Adebayo (neck) and Goran Dragic (foot) on Friday, Miami showed grit in avoiding being blown out the way Game 1 unfolded, when the Heat trailed by as many as 32 points. Jimmy Butler led the way with 25 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds in playing 45 minutes, and Kelly Olynyk was a surprise off the bench with 24 points and nine rebounds.
The Heat may need that again and more Sunday as Adebayo and Dragic — two of the team’s top three scorers these playoffs — are both listed as doubtful.
“We’re never giving up,” said Butler. “We’re going to fight, and we’re going to ride with this thing ’til the wheels fall off. It’s not over. We’re just down 0-2; we got to do something special.”
For the Lakers, the key is doing more of the same.
Los Angeles has been dominant the first two games, outscoring and outrebounding Miami. The Western Conference champs have been potent both in the paint and from long range, and they show little sign of slowing down with LeBron James and Anthony Davis leading the way.
“Those guys are playing at an extremely high level, and hopefully we can get two more wins,” said coach Frank Vogel.
Davis is averaging 33 points and 11.5 rebounds through the first two games, and James is just behind at 29 and 11. The dynamic duo has elicited comparisons to Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, who combined to win three consecutive championships for the Lakers from 2000-02.
“To be in the conversation with those two guys, myself and AD, is just very humbling, because I grew up watching those guys,” James said. “… It’s very humbling that we can be even mentioned with those greats.”
Prior to the Finals, the Heat hadn’t lost two consecutive games all postseason. Miami entered the series 12-3 after powering through the Eastern Conference.
The last time a team came back from 0-2 to win the Finals was in 2016, when James’ Cleveland Cavaliers accomplished the feat against the Golden State Warriors. As such, Los Angeles isn’t ruling out Miami yet.
“Until we win four games, we haven’t accomplished our goal,” Lakers guard Alex Caruso said. “It’s been over a year together, and we’ve talked about the same goal from Day 1. We’re still here chasing that same goal. Until we get four wins, we’re staying hungry.”