ORLANDO, United States (AFP) — Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra backed his team to bounce back after the Los Angeles Lakers closed in on another NBA championship on Tuesday.
After a 102-96 defeat in game four left them 3-1 down in the series, the Heat need a miracle if they are to prevent the Lakers from winning a record-equalling 17th title.
Only once before in NBA Finals history has a team overturned a 3-1 deficit, when a LeBron James-inspired Cleveland Cavaliers stunned the Golden State Warriors in 2016.
But Spoelstra struck a defiant stance after Tuesday’s defeat in Orlando which left Miami’s championship aspirations hanging by the slenderest of threads.
“Our guys love competition and love the challenge,” Spoelstra said.
“We are here for a purpose. We never expected this to be easy. We’ll just rest and recover tomorrow.
“I think everybody could probably use that a little bit. Recalibrate, get back to work on Thursday. I know our group’s going to be ready.
“We’ll respond, that’s academic at this point. We’ll just rest up tomorrow and get back to work and get ready for the next one.”
Spoelstra said Tuesday’s defeat in a physical encounter dominated by defense, had been a “throwback” game.
“There were some moments of truth and it came down to making plays,” Spoelstra said. “We made a lot more plays at the end of last game, they made their plays tonight.”
Heat star Jimmy Butler meanwhile said Miami would not dwell on Tuesday’s loss.
“I just think we’re so comfortable with who we are and how we play that that’s what we’re going to go out there and do,” Butler said.
“Our confidence ain’t going nowhere, it’s going to stay high, I’m going to make sure that it stays high, because it’s going to have to be at an all-time high to get this next win.”
Butler said Miami would need to reduce their error count to have any chance of resurrecting their title challenge.
“We know we got to be better. We know that we can be better, as I’ve been saying this entire time,” Butler said.
“We showed glimpses of it and then we made some crucial mistakes whether it be on the defensive end or the offensive end and beat ourselves in the end.
“They’re a really, really, really good team, we got to play damn near perfect to beat them. We didn’t do that tonight.”
© Agence France-Presse