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We are the underdogs but they are not unbeatable
We just arrived at the hotel and I hadn't had a chance to see if the city has that Finals buzz to it. But we have started getting into the thick of it ourselves. We have mandatory press availability the day before and after the game on shootarounds. There comes a point when you really don't have anything else to say. If there where 12 reporters covering us before, now there are 50 and from different countries. You start to hear people talking in different languages, people looking forward to the game, constantly breaking it down. That was the first thing that reminded me of the previous Finals. That's the kind of thing that makes you realize the scope of what we are about to begin, the millions of people that will be watching.
When anyone asks me how to stop Lebron I tell them it can't be done. When we talk about players like him, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant all we can do is try to slow them down, to make them miss one more shot a night. We have to find a way to make him uncomfortable. One-on-one there's not a lot anyone can do. He's unstoppable, he just bulldozes past you with his strength. We have to help a lot on pick and rolls but always being mindful of recovering, too. If the ball is kicked out we have to close out because they have great shooters like Ray Allen, Mike Miller and Shane Battier, when he plays.
Miami went against a Pacers team that matched-up great with them because of their style. It happened in the regular season, as well. So we will obviously try to learn from what the Pacers did to create problems for the Heat while also trying to avoid the mistakes they made.
Winning will be hard; it will take almost perfect games. Our defense has to be flawless, we have to move the ball and find the open shooters. They are not the type of team that will allow Tony to get to the rim off pick and rolls. We have to make swift and crisp passes. I'm not going to discuss the details as it wouldn't be beneficial before the games.
One of the keys will be limiting our turnovers. Indiana committed a lot of TOs in game 7 and it cost them. If you turn it over once you need to put it out of your head, not get bummed out about it. If you cough it up a second time, well, it happens. But it can't get pass that. Three turnovers in four minutes will probably mean a 10 point deficit. If you turn it over 20 times in a single game, like Indiana did, there's no way you are beating them.
I wouldn't say the Heat are the best team we have played against in the Finals but I can say it's the first time we are the underdogs. They are not unbeatable but they are coming in with momentum. They won 27 straight in the regular season, they have the best player in the world and they have home court advantage, which is not a determining factor but is still important. In the three previous Finals I played in, we knew that winning our home games was enough to win it all. Not now. You can always win an away game in any series and this is not the exception. But the Finals are different because of the 2-3-2 format. Winning one of the first two becomes paramount. Otherwise, we are left with no margin of error and are forced to win the three at home.
What I mean when I say I don't know if this is the toughest team we've faced in the Finals is that I remember when we were down eight in the third quarter of game seven against Detroit. That one was really tough.
After this unusually large nine-day stretch without games, we are pumped to play. We scrimmage in practice but those don't have the intensity of a real game and we take it easy to avoid injuries. We train for a couple of days then rest the third. Now we have to give our all for what's coming. It feels great to still be playing in June. We are here and after all we went through to get to this place, going home empty handed would not be satisfying at all. You always want a bit more, to win four games and finish the year with a smile.