Miami Heat

Miami Heat players say defense is key

On pace to set a record for allowing the highest field-goal percentage ever in an NBA Finals, Heat players reiterated Saturday what they’ve been saying for a week: The defensive breakdowns need to stop.

A video posted on Deadspin.com displays numerous examples of delinquent defense by Dwyane Wade in these NBA Finals. But among Heat players, he’s hardly alone.

“It’s shocking — the way they’ve been scoring, it’s almost like we have no defensive presence out there,” Rashard Lewis said Saturday. “It’s almost like they’re an offensive juggernaut right now. It felt like everything we did, we were a step slow in all our rotations. We were always late.”

Lewis said “more than anything, we have to control the penetration. When they penetrate and get into the paint, it creates those wide open threes and dump-off layups.”

LeBron James said Saturday that “great offense beats great defense any day. But we’ve had some mistakes.”

Udonis Haslem, who could get minutes in Game 5, wondered if the Heat has fallen “into the trap” because there’s no hostility toward the Spurs.

“Everybody knows we don’t like Indiana,” he said. “Everybody knows we don’t like Brooklyn, going back to the Boston days. These guys, when Tim Duncan gets an offensive foul, he’ll grab you and ask you if you’re OK. You kind of fall into that level of relaxation against these guys. Right now, I don’t want anybody helping me up unless they’re on my team. Don’t help me up when you knock me down, Tim. And I’m not going to help you up.

“We’ll have that discussion. It’s not to say, ‘Go out and play dirty.’ That’s not what we’re going to do. Definitely, there needs to be more of an edge, make things tougher. We have the personnel to get their field-goal percentage down.”

EMOTIONAL STATE

When a reporter told James he seemed in a pleasant mood and asked him if he was angry the past couple of days, he said: “Of course. I was extremely upset, sad, very emotional to myself after Games 3 and 4.”

But he added: “I’m in a good place in my life. It’s basketball.” He said having “two championships” helps his peace of mind.

Several players said the team’s mood is upbeat. “We have no time for shock and awe,” Chris Bosh said, “or the same thing will happen Sunday.”

Said Lewis: “Guys on this team stand up to challenges. We play at our best with our backs against the wall.”

• James said his ankle, which he “turned” in Game 2, is “a little sore, but it hasn’t limited me much. As the night goes on, it gets a little worse.”



• Wade said physically, he is “totally fine” and “way better than I’ve been in a long time.”



Of his 3-for-13 shooting in Game 4, he said: “That doesn’t happen to me often.”

On an off day Friday, he went to the arena “to feel the ball and wonder why I missed so many floaters. I’m high percentage around the basket, so I don’t like missing those shots.”

• Yahoo! Sports reported that Chicago and Houston are the favorites to sign Knicks forward

Carmelo Anthony

, who likely will receive a call from the Heat when free agency begins. Anthony reportedly will opt out of his Knicks contract.



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