Basketball / Sports

Heat looking to bounce back, as they typically have

SAN ANTONIO -- The last time the Miami Heat lost consecutive playoff games, Ray Allen played for the opposition, Chris Bosh played off the bench, and James Jones was the first reserve off that bench.

Since then, since that June 5, 2012, Eastern Conference finals loss to the Boston Celtics, every Heat playoff loss has been followed with a victory. Every one.

While the sting remains from Thursday's 110-95 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in Game 1 of these best-of-seven NBA Finals, the Heat go into Sunday's Game 2 at the AT&T Center having followed up each of their last 12 playoff losses with a victory. It is the longest such streak in the NBA since the Chicago Bulls had a similar 12-victory run that ended in 1992.

"I think this team, when we are faced with those situations, being in this so many times before, it brings out the best in us," Bosh said before Saturday's practice at the Spurs' practice facility. "We've been in this position many times before, so we know how to handle it."

Three times during last year's Finals against the Spurs the Heat responded from losses with victories in winning their second consecutive championship, including such a response after losing their first road game of that series at the AT&T Center.

"That's why they are two time champs," Spurs guard Tony Parker said. "To win championships, you have to face adversity and come back from any situation, and they've proved that over the years. That's why it's our job to stay focused and we know it's just one game."

Since the 2011 NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks, which remains the only playoff series the Heat's Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Bosh have lost, panic largely has left the building. Even after the most recent playoff losing streak, when three straight losses put them down 3-2 to the Celtics in 2012, the Heat won the series' finals two games to advance. Since then, there have been eight series without consecutive losses.

"We're able to bounce back, go to the film room, take account and not just bypass the mistakes we had in the previous game," James said. "And I think it's allowed us to move on and better ourselves for the next game."

That left Friday and Saturday for introspection.

"One thing we do is come in, learn from our mistakes, own up to our mistakes," Wade said, "figure out how we can be better coming into the next game and we make those adjustments, and it's worked out for us.

"I'm not saying that's automatic and it means we're going to win the ballgame, but up to this point it's worked out for us."

Coach Erik Spoelstra said Saturday there has been "a lot of carnage" to review from Thursday's loss, with the Heat committing 18 turnovers, getting outrebounded 39-29, outscored 36-17 in the fourth quarter, when James was forced to the bench with cramps amid the AT&T Center's air-conditioning malfunction.

"Our group," Spoelstra said, "has been pretty good at developing some mental toughness of owning what we need to do better. That's usually the first step. It's not the only step, but it's the first step to trying to get on the right track."

The last time the Heat lost the first two games of a series was the 2010 first round, when Michael Beasley was a rookie in his first tenure with the team, before James and Bosh arrived in free agency three months later.

Wade said he could just imagine what a similar predicament would bring, standing 0-2 going into Tuesday's Game 3 at AmericanAirlines Arena.

"I'm sure the series would be over from the outside," he said with a laugh. "That's not really our focus. Our focus is on how we can win ballgames and understand in the series it's the first one to four; not the first one to one, not the first one to two, not the first one to three.

"We understand the journey. We understand the path and what it takes to get there."

(c)2014 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

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