INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Refreshed in body and spirit, the Miami Heat returned to practice reunited and refocused.
There was no looking back. No heartfelt apologies given. No need for a detailed autopsy of Dwyane Wade’s ugly sideline exchange with coach Erik Spoelstra in Game 3.
What’s done is done. All that’s for another day. Right now, it’s time to save the season.
“We move on,” Wade said.
Down 2-1 in the Eastern Conference semifinals to the ready-to-rumble Indiana Pacers, the Heat were back on the floor Saturday after staying away from Bankers Life Fieldhouse for a day to decompress following their stunning 94-75 loss, a defeat amplified by the clash between Wade and Spoelstra during a timeout in the third quarter.
On Friday, Wade drove to Bloomington, Ind., and visited Indiana coach Tom Crean, his college coach for three years at Marquette. LeBron James went to the movies, catching “The Dictator.” Spoelstra joked that he locked away the keys to the team bus so players couldn’t get to the arena.
“We wanted to get away,” Spoelstra said as his team prepared for Sunday’s Game 4.
Wade, who scored just five points on 2-of-13 shooting and had five turnovers in Thursday’s blowout, insists that any apparent problems with Spoelstra were overblown. He downplayed their fiery spat.
“Things happen,” said Wade, who refused to acknowledge his quarrel with Spoelstra following the game. “In a perfect world a lot of things would go differently, but it’s not a perfect world. A lot of stuff in our game is in the heat of the battle, emotional-type things. When something happens, it happens and we move on as a team.
“Me and coach have been together for nine years in some capacity. We’ve had many different conversations, some like that and some not. It wasn’t the first, it won’t the last. We know how to move on from things and we know each other wants the best for each other.”
“There’s no harm done. We’re a family.”
Spoelstra knows the dispute didn’t look good to the outside world, but it’s just part of professional sports.
“Your communication sometimes is not for everybody’s living room, but it’s normal in our living room,” he said. “We’ve moved well beyond that. Dwyane and I have been together for a long time, nine or 10 years. That’s the least of our concerns the last two days.”
With an aggressive approach on both ends of the floor, the Pacers have won the past two games to put the Heat in an unforeseen hole and place their title hopes in serious danger. A win on Sunday would put Indiana up 3-1 and send the panic meter to code red in south Florida.
James, though, believes the Heat can even the series.
“We’re a confident bunch,” the MVP said. “We’ve got a veteran ballclub. We didn’t play well in Game 3, so we have an opportunity to go out and make amends and try to bring it back to our house with the series tied 2-2.”
The Pacers expect Wade to be back on his game Sunday. Although he’s struggling with leg issues, Wade is still one of the game’s top players and has the ability to score in bunches. So his players wouldn’t forget how dangerous Wade can be, Indiana coach Frank Vogel gave them some video reminders before practice.
“We showed clips of him torching us in previous games, making shots that he’s been missing in this series,” Vogel said. “Dwyane Wade has not been the normal Dwyane Wade we’re all used to seeing. We understand the threats that are there and I’ve made sure they leave here understanding that this team can beat us.”
The most intense matchup in this series has been between James and Indiana’s Danny Granger, who has not shied away from being physical with Miami’s superstar.
Granger and James have had altercations in the past two games, with their teammates stepping in to separate them before either could do anything they’d regret. Granger was called for a technical Thursday after he pulled James’ jersey on a breakaway and then took exception to an elbow extended toward his face.
“That’s part of basketball. That’s two men battling,” Granger said. “I’m not backing down from anybody, and he’s not backing down from anybody. And when you get that, you get some altercations.”
Vogel has preached all season for his players to have an “edge,” but doesn’t want them to do anything that could hurt the team.
“They understand very clearly that we are not interested in any ejection or suspension,” he said. “They also understand very clearly that a key to this series is letting the Miami Heat know that we’re not backing down from them.”
Granger said he knows not to take things too far. The risks are too great.
“I know where the line is,” Granger said. “(NBA commissioner) David Stern has done a good job of making sure we know what the line is and what not to cross. We won’t cross that line. We just want each other to know it’s going to be an intense battle, and it’s going to be a fight.”
James brushed aside Granger’s tough-guy talk as an opponent playing mind games.
(© 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)
“Why would he be scared of me?” James said. “I’m not no monster and this ain’t no horror movie. I’m not trying to scare anybody. He’s hyping himself up to say he’s not scared of me. Have I ever been intimidated by anybody in this league? I don’t think so.
“I go out and play my game and let my game do the talking.”