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NBA Finals: Shoe is on the other foot this year

Last year, the Heat split the first two NBA Finals games on its home floor. Now, Miami heads home with a chance to close out the series at American Airlines Arena.
By Anthony Slater, Staff Writer, aslater@opubco.com Published: June 15, 2012
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The Miami Heat players can relate to how the Thunder is feeling right now.

In fact, just last season, nearly a year ago to the day, Miami was in the exact same position.

After a smooth and well-executed series opener, the Heat struck first in the 2011 NBA Finals, trouncing Dallas 92-84 and gaining early momentum in front of an energetic home crowd.

Two days later, with reactionary talk show hosts all but declaring the series over, Miami played uncharacteristically sluggish, losing a late lead and eventually a 95-93 heartbreaker.

“There's no shock, there's disappointment,” Heat forward Chris Bosh said at the time. “But the reality is the reality. We might as well get used to it and focus on the next one.”

Just like that, Miami had relinquished homecourt advantage, stunning a confident crowd that smelled blood. The championship parade plans were put on hold. To salvage the season, and guarantee another home game, the Heat had to go on the road and win at least one game.

Sound familiar, Thunder fans?

Because it's the exact same scenario this year, with the final scores of the first two games nearly mirroring those in 2011. But this time, Oklahoma City has swapped spots with Miami.

And the Heat is happily playing the role of spoiler.

“We seized the moment,” guard Dwyane Wade said. “And Game 3 is going to be another one of those games, so we've got to figure out a way at home to protect home floor.”

To keep that stolen advantage, as the series shifts to South Beach, Miami must win the next three, all in American Airlines Arena. It's the longest stretch of midseries home games during any point of the playoffs, for any team.

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