MIAMI (Reuters) - The Miami Heat head into Sunday's Game Two of the NBA Finals knowing another loss could leave them with a real uphill battle in the best-of-seven series and for Dwyane Wade the clash is already in the "must-win" category.
"It's very urgent. Obviously you don't want to go down 0‑2 going to San Antonio for three straight games," said the Miami guard after practice on Saturday. "Odds are not that good. They are not in our favor.
"We're not a team that really says too much, but this is a must‑win game. For us we have to win this game at home. We have to come out and play a lot better and we have to also expect San Antonio to play a lot better, shoot a lot better, a little bit better from what they did from Game One," he added.
The Spurs won that game 92-88 with a strong fourth quarter performance after the Heat led for most of the game and Wade expects another tight encounter.
"After the first game when you come and you feel each other out, now you start to get a little understanding of what guys want to do and are going to do. So it will be a more competitive game, it will be a tougher game than even the first one," he said.
Miami came back from losing Game One in last year's finals to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 4-1 and they did the same in round two of this year's playoffs against Chicago and coach Erik Spoelstra believes his team has the experience to handle an early setback.
"There's a maturity with this group. It's not a guarantee, we don't take that for granted but our guys get angry," he said.
"They own it. We all own it together and then we just work together to try to get better. So we know that we're playing against a very good basketball team. We have to bounce back and play a better game," he said, adding that there is little room for error against a team of San Antonio's quality and pedigree.
"We played three quarters very competitively and then faded in the fourth and that's probably the deal with this series.
"We have great respect for them. We're in a hole right now that we need to get out of," Spoelstra said.
League most valuable player LeBron James was held to 18 points in Game One, although he did put up a triple double, but he has faced calls to be more aggressive - words he isn't paying much attention to.
"I don't really read too much of what people say," James said. "I do what's best for the team. What's best for the team, it doesn't always result in a win.
"I wish we could go 16‑0 in the playoffs. That would be awesome. There's challenges that come from the game. You learn from game to game in ways that you can get better. I want to win just as bad as anyone.
"I'm going to put myself and my team in a position to win. I have to try to make the plays. I can't worry about if people are saying, you should have done more, you should have been more aggressive, because you got a loss. Winning and losing is part of the game," he said.
Reporting By Simon Evans, editing by Gene Cherry