(Reuters) - The Miami Heat may not have history on their side as they try to claw their way back from the brink of elimination in the NBA Finals but on Thursday the team said they were not ready to roll over against the favoured Los Angeles Lakers.
Trailing the Lakers 3-1 in best-of-seven NBA Finals, the Heat on Friday face an elimination game for the first time in the 2020 postseason, which is being played entirely at Disney World in Florida to limit the risk from COVID-19.
“We’re competing for a title, and it’s the first team to four wins,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. “There’s a lot of different narratives out there. We don’t give a (expletive) what everybody else thinks.
“This is everything that we wanted this year, an opportunity to fight for, compete for a title, and that hasn’t changed at all through these first games.”
Only one team has successfully rallied from 3-1 down in the NBA Finals, and it happened in 2016 when LeBron James, now with the Lakers, led the Cleveland Cavaliers back from the brink to beat the defending champion Golden State Warriors.
Making things more difficult for Miami is that they are a banged-up unit. Guard Goran Dragic, who hasn’t played since the first half of Game One, is doubtful for Game Five as he deals with a torn left plantar fascia and All-Star forward Bam Adebayo is limited because of a neck injury.
Jimmy Butler, who recorded just the third 40-point triple-double in NBA Finals history in his team’s Game Three win, is ready for the challenge that awaits.
“I’ve got to rebound the basketball better. I have to get my guys involved in a numerous amount of ways, and then I’ve got to really lock down on the defensive end,” said Butler.
“I’ve got to be able to guard everybody. I’ve got to be in the paint and be able to close out in the perimeter. I’ve got to
be able to do a lot more.
“I’ve got to be able to set the tone from the jump, play with the most energy I’ve ever played with for these next three games, and win. That’s what I’ve got to do: Win.”
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond
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