Spoelstra, Butler: Heat can rally from 0-2 hole

  • Staff Writer
  • Joined ESPN in 2018
  • Appears regularly on ESPN Chicago 1000

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Despite being in a 2-0 hole after being dominated by the Los Angeles Lakers for most of Game 2 of the NBA Finals, the Miami Heat are holding onto a belief that they can find a way to win. Sure, they played Friday’s game without one of the team’s leading scorers in the postseason — Goran Dragic — who tore the plantar fascia in his left foot. And yes, they were also without Bam Adebayo who had a strained neck and shoulder.

Still, the Heat don’t want to hear about the odds being stacked against them.

“We don’t give a s— what everybody else thinks,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said after a 124-114 loss. “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, persistent and we just need to figure out how to overcome this opponent.”

Overcoming the Lakers’ size alone, and ability to overpower in the paint is a formidable task for Miami.

On Friday, the Lakers became the first team over the past 20 seasons to score 50 points and shoot 70% from the paint in a playoff game, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Los Angeles scored 56 points in the paint on 74% shooting.

And without Dragic — who led the Heat in scoring in the first round of the playoffs — and Adebayo — who led the team in scoring in the conference finals — Jimmy Butler had to take on a heavy load. Butler scored or assisted on 57 points — the most in his postseason career — in Game 2, according to ESPN Stats & Info. research.

“We need him to do incredible things for us,” Kelly Olynyk said of Butler. “Like he has done all year, all playoffs. Whatever happens with the rest of us, we’re going to have to step up and help him. He obviously can’t do it on his own, so we’re going to have to be with him doing a little bit more, a little bit more, whatever it takes.”

Butler played 45 minutes but said he thought he could play 48 if that guaranteed the Heat could win a game.

“We’re never giving up,” Butler said. “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. We’re capable of it. I wouldn’t want to be in the trenches with any other guys except for the ones that we have.”

Butler’s belief is buoyed by the fact that the Heat have prided themselves on being a no-excuse team all season. They believe the mental edge instilled in the group will always carry the group through tough times. The difference is that this challenge, of beating a LeBron James-led Lakers team, is more difficult than any other obstacle that has appeared in front of them this season.

“We believe in one another,” Butler said. “We got to play damn near perfect in order to beat those guys. We’ve yet to do it. And if we don’t do it soon, it’s not going to be pretty.”

ESPN’s Nick Friedell contributed to this report.

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