Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As the horn sounded to end the Miami Heat’s victory in Game 3 Sunday night, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh were already turning their attention to the task ahead in Game 4 of the NBA Finals.
The Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder will take the court at the AmericanAirlines Arena Tuesday night and both teams consider the game a must-win. Last year, Miami took a 2-1 lead only to watch the Dallas Mavericks reel off three straight victories en route to a NBA championship.
This time, the Heat believes they’re much better prepared to handle the onslaught that awaits them in Game 4, both from the media and the Thunder.
“We all got caught up in the lights and the negativity last year,” Bosh said. “We let that take away our energy away from focusing on what we needed to focus on. This year we’re just being ourselves. We’re coming and competing. We’re playing the best basketball and we’re just having confidence in our game. We’re good enough. We’re good enough to win it. We were good enough last year. We just had too many letdowns.”
That laser-like focus is desperately needed by the Heat as most NBA pundits fully expect the Thunder to win Game 4 to once again tie the series. The Heat said they’re remaining diligent as ever to try and deal with the issues as they pop up in the game.
“They made an adjustment how they (were) playing us throughout the game, and immediately we talked about what we have to do to kind of (make) that adjustment as three guys that are going to have the ball in their hand most of the time,” Wade said. “Just that conversation right there, but also working our brains and our minds already before we go watch film to see and to know, this is what we felt.”
But, the Thunder is not going to go away without making serious noise. The young team will play with reckless abandon in Game 4 Tuesday night. The Thunder know that if they go down 3-1 in the NBA Finals, their chances of winning an NBA title are almost non-existent.
“I know it’s got to be in the back of their mind that we’ve got to win this game or something to that nature,” Thunder forward Kendrick Perkins said Monday. “But I told guys after the game last night that we’re going to approach Game 4 that we’re not going to look at the scoreboard, see who is in the lead or not. We’re just going to play hard for 48 minutes, play basketball, and go from there.”
It’s going to be a battle Tuesday night. The Thunder will look to get both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook going early as well as look to get James Harden on the right track from long-range.
The Heat’s job will be to sustain an early punch in the gut from the Thunder and continue to grind it out throughout the game. Miami will have to finally knock down open jump shots in the game, or Oklahoma City will try to clog the lane and cut off the drives of LeBron and Wade.
Game 4 is set for a 9:00 p.m. tipoff at the AmericanAirlines Arena.
(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)