Erik Spoelstra wants his team “to play to our identity.” We know this because he said it into a microphone at least 35 times the last two days.
Turns out he wasn't just talking to himself, though he needed to hear that as much as anyone else.
Spoelstra is the one who, with the weight of Western civilization bearing down on his ballclub, kept babying Chris Bosh.
The Big Three is the Miami Heat's identity. Not one, not two. Three. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Bosh, who Spoelstra finally stuck back in the starting lineup Thursday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
And presto! The NBA Finals are headed to Miami tied 1-1 after the Heat's 100-96 victory in Game 2. And the three players Pat Riley recruited and/or re-recruited in the summer of 2011 reminded Oklahoma City and the world what kind of basketball the Heat is capable of when desperate.
“I think this postseason and everything we've been through has shown that this group has a resourcefulness, a resolve, a resiliency,” said Spoelstra, sounding to locals a bit like Les Miles after the 2004 Bedlam football game.
“We're all a very stubborn group, including this guy.”
You think? Sure, Spoelstra's three Rs were in full display in the Indiana series, when the Heat fell behind 2-1 and everyone wanted his head. But when you keep your $16 million power forward on the bench through two elimination games in the Eastern Conference Finals and the NBA Finals opener, your disposition is stubborn.
And now that Spoelstra's over that, Oklahoma City knows what it's up against. No one said this was going to be easy.
The Heat won this game in the first six minutes. Dwyane Wade, who looked like he needed to spend the day off after Game 1 checking out assisted-living facilities, was back to dunking like it was the summer of 2006. Shane Battier was shooting like he's back at Duke. When he's not jabbing his hand in Kevin Durant's face, Battier is nailing 3-pointers, 9 of 13 through two games.
Miami led 16-2 before LeBron scored his second basket on another one of those sweet left-handed drives. That made it 18-2. It's a testament to Oklahoma City's explosiveness and track record that everyone in the arena believed another comeback was in store.
Continue reading this story on the...