Heat regrouping after Game 1 loss
"We've got to get into the fight and understand what they're going to bring to the table," James said after Tuesday's practice at AmericanAirlines Arena. "It ain't about X's and O's in this series. It's about will and determination to win."
The shorthanded Bulls, who were missing three of their top four players, clearly appeared to have an advantage in both areas in Monday's 93-86 win to take a 1-0 lead in a best-of-seven series that resumes with Game 2 on Wednesday.
The Heat spent nearly two hours at practice Tuesday reviewing film of Monday's loss and then working through some of the adjustments on the court. There were plenty of areas for Miami to address after the most efficient offense in the NBA was held to just 37 points in the first half and shot only 39 percent from the field for the game.
And a Heat defense that thrives on forcing turnovers and generating transition opportunities was shredded during a 35-point fourth-quarter outburst from the Bulls. Chicago continues to be without Derrick Rose and was also missing starters Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng. But Nate Robinson, Jimmy Butler and Joakim Noah combined for 61 points, 28 rebounds and 16 assists to hand the Heat their first postseason loss since Game 1 of last season's NBA Finals.
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said Tuesday that Hinrich was scheduled to go through a workout to test his strained calf, but his status for Wednesday likely would be a game-time decision. Deng still had not traveled to be with the team Tuesday and is doubtful as he recovers from a spinal tap procedure.
James on Tuesday dismissed the notion Miami might have been flat after an eight-day layoff that followed its first-round sweep of the Milwaukee Bucks. He also refused to say rust might have been a factor in the first half of Game 1, when he scored a playoff career-low two points and missed five of six shots before recovering late to finish with 24 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
Every time you lose in the playoffs, you feel like it's the worst thing -- you feel terrible. Your food don't taste good that night. You wake up, you feel awful. Then you come in, learn from it and then it's another game.” -- Dwyane Wade on rebounding
after a playoff loss
James was more frustrated with how the Heat finished than he was concerned about his cold start. Miami led by seven points with six minutes left, but was outscored 10-0 down the stretch. The Heat settled for outside jumpers and didn't score in the paint over the final four minutes.
"We still had a chance to win the game, no matter what I was doing in the second half or not," James said. "There were a couple of breakdowns defensively we know we can clean up. We also didn't shoot the ball like we know we're capable of doing. I just think some of the effort plays we usually come up with in the second half, we didn't make."
While the Heat spent Tuesday regrouping from a rare home loss, the Bulls took advantage of the off day to finally get some rest after a whirlwind 48-hour stretch in which they defeated Brooklyn in Game 7 of their first-round series Saturday and then knocked off the defending champions.
It was the first time since 2009 that a team won Game 7 on the road and then a Game 1 on the road in the following series. The Orlando Magic beat the Boston Celtics in Game 7 to advance in the 2009 playoffs and then beat James' Cleveland Cavaliers team to start the conference finals.
"There have been some big victories the last couple of games, but we're not satisfied," Noah said Tuesday. "We need to stay hungry and make our adjustments."
Trailing in a postseason series is not a new challenge for the Heat, who were behind in three consecutive series last season before winning a championship. Tuesday offered a frustratingly familiar feeling for Heat star Dwyane Wade.
"Every time you lose in the playoffs, you feel like it's the worst thing -- you feel terrible," Wade said. "Your food don't taste good that night. You wake up, you feel awful. Then you come in, learn from it and then it's another game. You forget all about it. That's what we've done every time. We've been behind the eight-ball plenty of times."
But it's not an experience from which Miami wants to continue to draw motivation. The Heat also don't believe they need to draw up too many adjustments. At one point Tuesday, Heat center Chris Bosh was so annoyed with questions about Noah's relentless play that he ended his session saying he was tired of talking about his opponent.
"Our backs are against the wall right now, so we're going to have to respond," Bosh said about what needs to change for the Heat in Game 2. "We're a No. 1 seed for a reason. It would be a shame to think we need to change something. If you're making too many adjustments at this point, you're probably going to lose. We just have to do what we do."