The Miami Heat are down 1-0 in the NBA Finals, but don't expect them to be too concerned about it.
In a highly competitive, very entertaining Finals opener that went down to the wire, the San Antonio Spurs just held on in the final seconds to outlast the Heat, 92-88, and take the series lead.
This, however, is not a Heat team that has much of a problem being in an early one-game hole.
It has happened three times before in the Big Three era—twice against the Chicago Bulls, in 2011 and 2013, and against the Oklahoma City Thunder in last year's NBA Finals. In each case, the Heat won-out to end the series in five.
Those memories seemed fresh in mind as the Heat made their postgame comments, staying calm and collected when it came to discussing the future of the series.
"It is what it is," LeBron James said following the loss, clearly disappointed but focused on the task at hand first and foremost.
"It's a seven-game series. Y'know, we gotta see ways we can get better for Game 2. We can only focus on the next game, and that's what it's about."
LeBron was blunt in his remarks and seemed genuine when it comes to his outlook: The loss was tough and there's no sugarcoating that, but the only thing to do is to go out and get back on track in Game 2.
It's clear what he needs to improve, too.
Though James did register a triple-double in Game 1, he did so while scoring just 18 points, his lowest output in the 2013 postseason. The rebounds and assists are assets, but the Heat need the four-time MVP to attack the rim and score more if they want to beat the Spurs.
Dwyane Wade was similarly subdued following the game, reflecting on things in more cliched terms but expressing the same sort of single-minded focus LeBron had.
"It puts us in a hole where we're down one game," Wade remarked. "Y'know, you got two very good teams here. It's the first one of four, so did we make it tough on ourselves by losing the first one? Yeah, but our job now is to prepare and come out and try to win Sunday."
At least Wade now looks prepared to pull his weight for the Heat.
After looking diminished due to wear and tear during the Eastern Conference Finals, Wade finally seemed like his old self again in Game 7 against the Indiana Pacers, attacking inside en route to 21 points and nine rebounds. With another 17 points in Game 1 against San Antonio, Wade looks like a reliable option again going forward.
Regardless, Erik Spoelstra knows his team can overcome this deficit just like it has overcome everything else.
"We've been in every situation," the coach points out. "During the year, we had 15, 20 games where we were down by 10 or up and then we lose a lead. We've been in every situation we can, that's not an excuse."
For a group that won 27 straight games earlier in the year, the Heat have weathered some adversity lately. The Pacers just took them to seven games, and the Bulls stole Game 1 from them before that. In each instance, though, Miami fought back and overcame the threat in dominating fashion—that's how it got to be where it is today.
James, Wade and company know better than to be afraid. After all, their Game 1 loss was tough, but there was little that happened that should strike fear into the hearts of the Heat.
After all, if not for a breathtaking, stumbling dagger from Tony Parker, Miami would have had a chance to tie this game on the last shot.
That's just one unsustainable occurrence the Spurs won't be able to count on. LeBron will score more as the series progresses, and San Antonio will give Miami more opportunities for easy buckets.
The Spurs turned the ball over just four times in Game 1, a far cry from the 14.7 the Heat forced per game during the regular season. As that stat regresses towards the mean, some San Antonio scoring chances will turn into juicy transition shots for the Heat.
Miami knows this and feels confident in its ability to win four games in six tries. When Game 2 kicks off, the Heat won't have any sweat on their brows.
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