MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The Miami Heat returned to the practice court on Friday as they continue to prepare for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday Night at American Airlines Arena. After splitting the first two games in Indiana, there is an emphasis with the Heat on maintaining their home court advantage.
“It’s always the most important thing,” Said Chris Bosh when asked about the significance of the Heat defending its home court. “We want to make sure we’re taking care of business.”
So far in the 2014 NBA Playoffs the Heat have yet to lose a game at home, a trend the team hopes to continue. If Miami is able to maintain their unblemished home record through Game’s 3 and 4, they’ll be in prime position to return to the NBA Finals for the fourth consecutive year.
“For us as a veteran ball club we just try to go out and try to protect home,” said LeBron James. “We feed off our fans energy and just try to play some complete basketball.”
If the Heat can bring the kind of defensive intensity they displayed during their Game 2 win in Indiana, it will be very difficult for the Pacers to keep up with Miami’s high-octane offense. Considering the Heat team that we saw in Game 2 was very different than the team we saw in Game 1, it’s hard to say for sure what to expect when they take the floor Saturday night.
“We haven’t played as well as we want to yet,” said Dwyane Wade following practice on Friday. “Our defense was darn good (in Game 2) giving up 83 points but I felt the overall game wasn’t where we would like it to be.”
While the Heat are the only team left in the NBA Playoffs yet to lose a game at home, the Pacers have been one of the best road teams this postseason. Indiana comes into Game 3 riding a five-game road winning streak which includes a series-clinching win over the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center in round 2.
Miami certainly isn’t taking their dominance at home for granted. As we saw with the Heat’s win in Game 2, having a homecourt advantage is something that can disappear in the blink of an eye. “They won a game here last year,” said Wade, speaking about the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals. “Our homecourt advantage went away and we had to figure out a way to get it back.”
You can bet that is the mindset that the Pacers will have heading into Saturday night’s game. Both of these teams know how well they’re capable of playing and it’s going to come down to which one is able to reach their highest level while battling against their toughest competitor.
“I don’t feel like we’ve played our best basketball,” added Wade. “We have to get to that level where we’re playing Miami Heat basketball. We have a lot more improvement we can do in this series.”