Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – How do you build upon a nearly perfect night? That’s the question the Miami Heat face in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks Tuesday night at the AmericanAirlines Arena.
Heat superstar LeBron James was nearly perfect from the field in Game 1 and almost put together a triple-double in his first game of the 2013 NBA Playoffs. James only took 11 shots and still walked out with 27 points and more importantly a victory.
“The narrative has changed about him, about our team,” Heat forward Shane Battier said. “A championship changes that. I don’t think LeBron’s changed. That’s who LeBron is. LeBron’s going to make the smart basketball play. He’s going to make the right play. If that entails him taking 11 shots and we win, he’s going to do it. If it entails him taking 30 shots, he’s going to do it.”
When LeBron took to the free throw line in Game 1, the home crowd at the AAA chanted “MVP” to the world’s greatest player. James is expected to win his fourth NBA MVP award in the coming days, which will also be the second year in a row James has won the award.
The scary part for NBA opponents is that LeBron has settled into his role with the Heat and many times only seems to be getting better and making his teammates that much better each time they step on the court.
“We don’t take his talent for granted because he does whatever it takes to help you win,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Opposing coaches formulate game plans to try and at least contain James and the MVP still finds ways to beat them whether it’s by driving to the basket and scoring or making a key pass to an open teammate to hit an easy shot.
The trick for the Bucks – who are 1-4 against Miami this season – is finding ways to get Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis some help on the offensive end. Jennings and Ellis combined for 48 points in Game 1; their teammates chipped in only 39 more.
If that happens again and Miami’s bench continues to play well, both teams will be resting by early next week. Milwaukee will be out of the playoffs and Miami will be awaiting its matchup for the Eastern Conference semifinals.
“No one’s in a panic,” Boylan said. “We’ve played one game. It’s time for us to take a look and see what we can do and figure out how we can help those guys.”
While Miami played well in Game 1, there were still two areas that stuck out like a sore thumb for the Heat: turnovers and three-point shooting. The Heat shot just 30.4 percent from behind the 3-point line and that included a combined 3-15 performance from Ray Allen and Shane Battier.
So how did LeBron deal with that? He got Mario Chalmers and Ray Allen into a 3-point shooting contest after practice Monday. LeBron won and Chalmers and Allen had to do 20 pushups with James calling out a cadence to them.
Perhaps more troubling to Spoelstra was the Heat’s turnovers. The Heat turned the ball over 19 times against the Bucks while generating just 12 turnovers from the Bucks. The Heat ranked fourth in the league in turnovers and fifth in the league in turnovers caused during the regular season.
While 19 turnovers against the Bucks isn’t enough to sink the Heat, doing that against a team like the Knicks or Pacers could prove difficult to overcome.
“That’s one thing Coach Spo does a great job of,” Wade said. “He’s always making sure that we move on and we move into the new moment. That moment has passed. That’s one thing he’s been very consistent at.”
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