Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Sports

Heat tries to ease its Game 3 pain

MIAMI — The Heat has been down in playoff series and the NBA Finals before, so panic hasn't set in yet. But the two-time champs sounded like a team in need of a visit from Dr. Phil.

Chris Bosh was angry after coach Erik Spoelstra's lengthy film session Wednesday that showed the defensive breakdowns in Tuesday's 111-92 loss that gave the Spurs a 2-1 lead in the series. Bosh used phrases such as "lack of effort" and "lack of trust" and said it's the worst this group has played together.

Everyone in Miami is concerned about point guard Mario Chalmers' mental state. He's having a brutal series, which is affecting his confidence.

Spoelstra said the Heat "didn't show the necessary mental toughness" in Game 3. Spoel­stra, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade all talked about having to "own" their mistakes and make immediate changes. Game 4 is tonight, and if the Heat doesn't bounce back, it could face elimination when the series shifts back to San Antonio for Sunday's Game 5.

"You're always on edge in the postseason, but I don't want to be concerned at this point," James said. "We owned what we had to do in the film session, and we'll come in with a better mind-set. That doesn't mean it results in a win. But we have to play with a little bit more focus and a little bit more challenge."

The Spurs were on fire in Game 3, making 19 of 21 shots to start the game and set a Finals record by shooting 75.8 percent (25-for-33) in the first half.

It's highly unlikely the Spurs will shoot that well again, but Wade cautioned that the Heat can't have that mentality.

"No, no, no, no," Wade said. "You don't chalk it up to 'Oh they just shot well. It was their night. It wasn't our night.' No. You have to do something about it. Each person individually has to look at themselves in the mirror and see what they can do better and as a group see what we can do better to all help each other.

"Yeah, they shot the ball well, but they shot the ball well because of the mistakes that we made. We've got to own up to it."

The Heat has been in this position before, just last year in fact. The Spurs trounced Miami by 36 in Game 3 and led the series 2-1. But Miami blew out San Antonio in Game 4 to even the series and won it in seven.

Perpetually one of the most confident guys in the locker room, Chalmers is going through an absolute crisis on that front. He has a total of 10 points and nine assists through the first three games. "This is one of the toughest challenges I've ever been through," he said.

What that challenge truly is remains a mystery.

He hasn't revealed any illness or injury. He says his looming entry into free agency this summer isn't occupying his mind, and some teammates have urged him not to even think about contract matters until something can be decided. He looks the same, sounds the same, acts the same, so there's no clues to be gleaned there, either.

"He's a point guard on a championship team, and we need him. We do," James said. "He's been key for us throughout these runs. But obviously right now he's been struggling a lot. But the No. 1 thing is he can't lose confidence in himself."

Sterling saga: A trial will be held next month to determine whether Donald Sterling, who opposes his estranged wife's planned sale of the Clippers, was properly removed as an administrator for the family trust that owns the team. An attorney for Shelly Sterling went to probate court in Los Angeles to request a trial to confirm that as sole trustee she can proceed with the $2 billion sale to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. The development is the latest in a legal tug-of-war that has ensued after the NBA's decision to ban Sterling for life after racist remarks he made emerged in a recording in April. Sterling is fighting the decision and suing the league for $1 billion. The trial, which was granted exceptionally quickly, will begin July 7 and last four days. The deadline for the sale is July 15.

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