|Heat know Spurs will be inspired in Game 3|
|Monday, June 09, 2014 8:00 PM|
MIAMI — Dwyane Wade thinks there's no one better than the Miami Heat at dealing with the mental challenge of the playoffs. In his eyes, only one other team might compare.
He's talking about the San Antonio Spurs.
That's why Wade believes these NBA Finals are just getting started.
When he looks at the Spurs, he sees qualities his own team has, including an ability to break down a loss and quickly correct things. It's what Miami did before Game 2 of the finals and it's what Wade expects the Spurs to do before the title series resumes with Game 3 in Miami tonight.
"You never put them away," Wade said. "I think they always believe and it's the same with us. You can't, you won't, put us away because we're always going to believe. That's why this is a perfect, different animal, kind of series. They're the other team like us. They don't lose much and when they do they come back and be better in the next game. So we've got to come out and do the same thing."
That would explain why on Monday, instead of a day off, the Heat gathered to watch video of Game 2.
By winning in San Antonio to even the finals at 1-1, home-court advantage now belongs to the Heat. But no one in their locker room thinks it's going to get easy now.
"They came out great. They played a great game," Spurs guard Tony Parker said after Miami's 98-96 win in Game 2, the 13th straight time the Heat immediately followed a postseason loss with a victory. "Now it's our turn to go over there and get one. We played pretty well all season long on the road and so we're going to have two great opportunities to try to come up with a win."
Miami has won a franchise-record 11 straight postseason games at home.
The last team to win a playoff game in Miami was the Spurs, winning Game 1 of last season's finals.
"We are in a tough situation because we've got to go to Miami and we've got to get one," Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said. "We don't want to come back here 3-1 down. It's very hard to overcome that. Definitely going to be a great challenge for the team to play in an arena like that and having to win."
A challenge, sure, but it's one Heat coach Erik Spoelstra knows the Spurs can handle.
"Coming back here there has to be an incredible sense of focus and urgency," Spoelstra explained Monday. "They're a veteran, poised, championship-level team that's been through a lot. The crowd won't affect them much."
Neither team thought it played all that well in the game that it won so far in these finals.
The Spurs turned the ball over too much for their liking in Game 1 — the game that will be remembered for the air conditioning malfunction and cramps inside a steamy building forcing LeBron James to leave in the final minutes. In Game 2, the Heat weren't thrilled with a slow start and how they spent much of the game playing from behind.
When James got rolling in the third quarter, things started swinging Miami's way in Game 2. When he found Chris Bosh for the 3-pointer that put Miami ahead for good with 1:18 left, it was just another example of the 4-time MVP setting a teammate up for a big play.
The pressure, if Miami had not found a way to win in the final moments of Game 2, would have been enormous on the 2-time defending champions.
Now, it seems to have shifted to the Spurs.
"It doesn't matter what we've been through before," Spurs forward Tim Duncan said. "We're here now again."
The last time these teams met in Miami at this time of year, the Heat wound up spraying champagne in their locker room.
It's tempting, Bosh acknowledged, to think that all Miami needs to do for a third straight championship is stay unbeaten at home.
But Bosh won't let himself go there.
"I can only think about Game 3," Bosh said. "We've played well at home this postseason. I think we feel we have an advantage now. We have to make sure that we play well and keep it that way."
Wade fined $5,000 for flopping: The flop is having an impact on the playoffs and it's being caught much more than it was in the regular season.
Wade became the latest recipient of a postseason flopping fine Monday when the NBA ordered him to give up $5,000 after a review showed he over-exaggerated a foul during Game 2 of the finals that was charged to Ginobili.
And there's an ironic twist — Ginobili is often considered a master flopper but wasn't even warned once about it this season.
"He took a swipe and he hit me," Wade said Monday, before the fine was announced. "It was a late call by the ref but he called it."
The league saw it a little differently.
It was the fifth flopping violation of the playoffs, which works out to one in every 17.2 games. The NBA reported 35 flops were caught in the regular season, or one in every 35.1 games. Players are not fined in the regular season until their second flop of the year; in the playoffs, every flop is a fine.
"Flopping," Miami guard Shane Battier once said, "is a silent killer."
Well, unless it works.
Wade drew the foul against Ginobili with 4:09 left in the second quarter on Sunday night. Ginobili, who took a big swipe at the ball about 35 feet from the basket, wound up going to the bench with his third foul of the half. Wade went to the line and made the two resulting free throws, since Miami was already in the bonus.
The Heat wound up winning by two points.
Some of the flops in the playoffs have been almost circuslike acting jobs, including a pair by Indiana guard Lance Stephenson — the official league-wide leader in flopping this season with two violations in the regular season and two more in the postseason. He's had to pay $20,000 for those flops, or basically about 2 percent of his season's salary.
For Wade, who's made nearly $19 million in salary this season, the $5,000 was mere pocket change. And situations like that were pointed out last year by now-retired NBA Commissioner David Stern, who said the small fine "isn't enough. You're not going to cause somebody to stop it for $5,000 when the average player's salary is $5.5 million."
Stern added then that anyone who thought the fine would stop the flop is allowing "hope to prevail over reason." So it would be no surprise if tougher flopping penalties were at least discussed when the NBA's competition committee when that group meets this summer.
Besides Stephenson and Wade, the other postseason flop fines have been assessed to Indiana's Roy Hibbert and the Spurs' Tiago Splitter. All of those flops were cited in the conference-final round or later.
NBA Finals Game 2 ratings up slightly from 2013
NEW YORK — The NBA Finals rematch is drawing a higher television audience than the first go-around between the Spurs and the Heat.
Nielsen announced Game 2 on Sunday delivered just over 15 million viewers on ABC and had a peak audience of 18,786,000 viewers from 10-10:30 p.m. Eastern time. The viewership translates to an 8.9 household rating. That is a 5 percent increase from last year's Game 2, which drew an 8.5.
Through two games, the Finals are averaging more than 14.9 million viewers. That's up 4 percent from last year, when James and the Heat beat the Spurs in a 7-game series.
AP Source: Gentry to have 2nd interview with Cavs
CLEVELAND — A person familiar with the Cavaliers' coaching search says Los Angeles Clippers assistant Alvin Gentry will have a second interview for the vacancy.
Gentry is the first known candidate to meet for a second time with the Cavs, who fired Mike Brown — for the second time — on May 12. Gentry's second meeting has not yet been scheduled, said the person who spoke Monday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team was not making its plans public.
The Cavs hope to have a coach in place before the June 26 NBA draft. Cleveland has the No. 1 overall pick.
Gentry previously worked in Phoenix with new Cavs general manager David Griffin.
Reports: Derek Fisher agrees to coach the Knicks
NEW YORK — The New York Knicks have scheduled a news conference for this morning, amid reports that Derek Fisher has agreed to become the team's new coach.
The Knicks did not confirm the reports, other than saying they were planning a "major announcement."
Several media outlets cited unnamed sources saying the longtime NBA guard agreed to terms with the Knicks on a deal that was still being finalized.
The 39-year-old Fisher just completed his 18th season, finishing his career with the Oklahoma City Thunder. He played under Knicks' President Phil Jackson with the Los Angeles Lakers and helped that franchise win five NBA titles.
Fisher would have been an unrestricted free agent this summer, though it was widely known that this season would be his last as a player. And once the Knicks failed to close a deal with Steve Kerr — who wound up accepting an offer from Golden State — Fisher was believed to be the next target on Jackson's list.
Jackson was fined $25,000 for the league last week for a tampering violation involving Fisher. He was still under contract with the Thunder when Jackson told New York reporters that Fisher was "on my list of guys that could be very good candidates" to replace Mike Woodson on the Knicks' sideline.
Fisher surely could still play. He has just suspected for a while that his time has come to do something else.
Fisher's hiring means that next season, both teams in New York will have former point guards barely removed from playing days at the helms. It worked for the Brooklyn Nets, who made the Eastern Conference semifinals this season with first-year coach Jason Kidd, and now the Knicks will hope that Fisher can have the same success.
His hiring is the first significant step in what's expected to be a broad makeover of the team by Jackson, who was hired late in the regular season to turn around the fortunes of a franchise that has won just one playoff series in the last 14 years.
Over that 14-year span, the Knicks have won a mere 10 playoff games. Fisher played in 134 playoff wins during that stretch.