Heat facing identity crisis
Who says there are no original ideas in the NBA?
As Miami sorted out its shortcomings after Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, Heat coach Eric Spoelstra came up with an intriguing goal for Game 2 on Wednesday:
Winning by half-a-point.
Splitting rebounds evenly might be a more practical plan, but Spoelstra unveiled his scheme prior to the Heat's shootaround Monday afternoon at UIC's Flames Athletic Center.
"We did not play to our identity," Spoelstra said. "That happens, unfortunately, in the playoffs.
"Now it's about getting back to our game and trying to take advantage of this opportunity to get a win -- regardless of how we do it.
"It can be 48 minutes of hell to get to that point -- and maybe win by a half a point. It doesn't matter. You come out of here with a win on Wednesday, (then) this game we'll be able to move on from it."
Spoelstra's observation about how the 48 minutes need to feel serves as the more relevant lesson from Game 1.
Each of the Heat's primary three players noted how the Bulls exerted more effort -- almost as if it wasn't sporting to compete on every possession and do the little things right.
"You have to have that mindset," said Chris Bosh. "And I think that's one major mistake that we made coming into Game 1. That's one thing that can't happen: Another team outhustles you and they're more desperate than you are.
"Unfortunately they threw the first punch and we have to react."
After losing the rebounding battle in all four games against the Bulls this year, Miami seems most in need of bigger and more aggressive post players.
Udonis Haslem, who has played just 6 minutes and 57 seconds since undergoing foot surgery in late November, could fit that bill.
Even if Haslem can play a bigger role than Sunday's four minutes of junk time, it's up to Miami's main men to solve the team's shortfalls.
"This whole series will be about enduring," Spoelstra said. "And how long you can endure through the physical grind, but just as importantly, the mental grind because it's two very competitive, physical teams."
Judging by the 31-8 margin in second-chance points Sunday, there was just one such team in Game 1.
"Those effort plays and second-chance opportunities really deflated us," Spoelstra said. "We lost our concentration for a few brief possessions on the offensive end (in the second half) and we didn't execute as well as we could have."