Tempting as it might be for Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers fans to do these days — to look ahead to a potential showdown between their teams in the Eastern Conference Finals — Dwyane Wade isn’t willing to take the bait yet.
“Talk to me after we get four wins in this series,” Wade said Wednesday, hours after his close friend and former Heat teammate LeBron James had told reporters in Cleveland ‘it’d be great’ to face the Heat in the playoffs and that he’s always wanted to face Wade in the postseason.
Wade continued: “Then, I’ll answer that question.”
As confident as one might expect the Heat to be after taking Game 1 of the series on the road, Tuesday night’s overtime victory over the Raptors wasn’t pretty, and the Heat didn’t come out of it unscathed.
Wade, who won his 100th career playoff game Tuesday, bruised his left knee late in the fourth quarter and center Hassan Whiteside strained his right knee when he slipped in the first quarter.
Wade said his knee “isn’t a story” and he’ll be “fine.” Whiteside, who was already dealing with a bruised right thigh, said his latest injury is “just another thing I’ve got to fight through.”
So while Wade and Whiteside probably won’t be 100 percent for Thursday night’s Game 2, the Heat will still have to contend with a 56-win regular season team desperate to even the series.
“If you’re a veteran, you understand a seven-game series, by its nature, is a long series,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We’ve been in their locker room where you’re down in a series and you understand the urgency and desperation they’ll be bringing. One game doesn’t indicate any momentum to a second game. We feel grateful we were able to get that win yesterday. But we’ve got to start from scratch.”
Spoelstra said the Heat’s offensive performance might have been the most inefficient of the playoffs. Miami turned the ball over 20 times and had three turnovers on inbounds passes combined the fourth quarter and overtime.
Spoelstra said the team reviewed those tunrnovers film and said his players didn’t do a good enough job setting screens on those inbounds plays.
LOWRY’S SHOT WAS GOOD
Kyle Lowry stepping out of bounds before he launched his game-tying half-court heave at the end of regulation.
Spoelstra said he told Justise Winslow, who was guarding Lowry on the play, to avoid fouling the struggling Raptors point guard at all costs.
Dragon on fire
Goran Dragic’s emergence as a scorer in the Heat’s last two playoff victories has been a welcome sight.
But if you ask players, there’s really nothing different about the way Dragic has been playing.
“The first six games [against] Charlotte, they were so focused on taking away the paint from him that we had all these shots and looks from three,” Luol Deng said. “[Tuesday] I felt Toronto was really worried about my show and they were showing on my screen. Any time you show [on the screen], it really gives Goran a chance to go downhill.”
Or, it could just be the new way Dragic is eating his sandwiches.
After Tuesday’s 26-point performance, Deng cut into Dragic’s interview telling reporters the reason Dragic is playing better is because he’s taught him how to make a sandwich the right way.
“Lu was bragging he’s making the best sandwiches in this world,” Dragic explained Wednesday. “Of course, because of how well he was playing in this first series against Charlotte, I said ‘Maybe something is true about that.’ After that, we were at the brunch. I said ‘Lu, show me this magical sandwich. How you make it? What you put in it?’ Now, I got the same sandwich.”
What’s the secret ingredient?
“It’s a lot of things,” Dragic said. “Turkey sandwich, cheese, salad, tomato, mayo. It needs to be toasted. And the key is that tomato needs to be on top of everything so it’s juicier. He said that’s the key.”
Thursday: Heat at Raptors
What: Eastern Conference semifinals Game 2
When/where: 8 p.m., Air Canada Center, Toronto
TV/radio: ESPN; WAXY 790 AM; WRTO 98.3 FM (Spanish)
Series: Heat lead 1-0
Scouting report: The Raptors are 4-5 in the second game of a playoff series, with a 3-1 record when playing Game 2 at home. The Heat has never won the first two games of a playoff series on the road.