Dwyane Wade didn’t have to wait very long to experience his first blowout victory in the playoffs. It happened in Game 2 as a rookie when the Heat trounced the Hornets 93-63 at home.
What happened next, Wade said, was one of the more humbling moments of his career. The Heat went on the road to New Orleans, lost 77-71 and Wade scored a career playoff low two points on 1-of-8 shooting.
“I was feeling good about myself,” Wade recalled Monday after practice. “Then I went on the road and I was like ‘Whoa this is the playoffs. OK, this is how it’s going to be.’
“I’ve played in enough of these now where I know a team is going to be different from night to night. That’s what we’ve tried to share with these young guys. Game 1 is behind us. When we come out there and the ball tips up Wednesday we can’t be expected to get the same shots we got the other night. We can’t expect them to take the same shots they took the other night. Like I said [Sunday] night, we may not score the basketball at the same rate. But if it’s 83 or 93 points that we score, we still have to find a way to win the ballgame.”
While Sunday night’s 32-point victory may have provided a false sense of security for a young, inexperienced Miami team back when Wade was a rookie, that’s just not going to happen for a roster laden with veterans like Udonis Haslem, Joe Johnson, Ama’re Stoudemire and Luol Deng.
If their messages weren’t heard, Monday night’s loss by Oklahoma City at home to the Dallas Mavericks serves as a shining example. After losing Game 1 by 38 points the short-handed Mavs pulled off an 85-84 upset, becoming the eighth team since the NBA adopted the three-point line in 1979-80 to lose the first game of a playoff series on the road by at least 30 points and come back to win Game 2.
In all, home teams were 16-8 in those situations heading into Tuesday night’s Memphis-San Antonio game. The Spurs won Game 1 by 32 points.
The Hornets were 11-6 following double-digit losses in the regular season and coach Steve Clifford said Tuesday before practice he felt confident his team had “put a big dent into what we have to fix” following team film sessions.
“The only thing I would say is this — we were 1.07 points per possession on offense [Sunday],” Clifford said. “Our offense wasn’t even close [to that in the regular season]. That would for the year be [fifth] best in the league — against a very good defense team. We scored 91 points because there weren’t a lot of possessions. The game was slower. Our offense — it can better — but it was really good.
“That was not the problem. We couldn’t guard them at all. That’s what we’ve got to fix. You want to fix both areas, but the offensive part was more than good enough to win. The Heat averaged 1.42 points per possession, which would be the highest of any team in any NBA game this year. So, they rocked us. Changing the lineup to put more offense on the floor is not what we’re looking for. We’ve got to be able to defend them.”
How can the Hornets fix that from Game 1 to Game 2?
“We’ve got to try harder No. 1,” Clifford said. “We have to have more readiness to play. And a lot of it frankly was basic principles. We’ve got to set a tone higher on the floor with ball pressure. We’ve got to be earlier with our talk, better with our organization, be more physical, ready to play. We’ve got to take their strengths away. We started the game closing short to [Luol] Deng twice, who is a 37 percent three-point [shooter]. Those are plays that have to be made every time that we’ve been good at all year. We were 1.02 points per possession for the year [defensively]. We were the ninth-best defense in the NBA. It was out of character for us and they took full advantage of it.”
▪ Heat center Hassan Whiteside said he’s moved on from Monday’s disappointing news that he only finished third in the Defensive Player of the Year voting.
“It’s yesterday. I’m not worried about it anymore,” Whiteside said. “Some people were happy for me and how far I came. Some people thought I should have won it. It’s yesterday. Nothing I can do about it. I’m focused on the playoffs and getting wins.”
Wednesday: Hornets at Heat
When/where: 7 p.m., AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami.
TV/radio: NBA TV, SUN; WAXY 790, WRTO 98.3 FM (Spanish).
Series: Heat leads 1-0.
Scouting report: The Heat scored a franchise playoff-record 123 points in Game 1 and racked up 27 assists and 56 points in the paint. The Heat is 16-5 this season when it has at least 25 assists. Neither team has had any new injuries reported since Game 1. The Hornets have won five games in a row following double-digit losses.