Everything changed when Tony Parker made his daredevil, Globetrotteresque bank shot to finish the Spurs' win in Game 1. Had Parker held onto the ball for one tenth of a second longer, then maybe the pressure would be on San Antonio now. If his leaning bank shot had hopped off the rim instead of falling in, then the Heat would not be focused so urgently on Game 2.
"Maybe," said Heat center Chris Bosh, "when we look back on this, we'll say losing Game 1 was the best thing that happened for us."
Both teams will have a better understanding for the terms of this NBA Finals by the end of Game 2 Sunday night. The Spurs made the opening statement by forcing the ball out of the hands of LeBron James while pushing the tempo and creating open shots through Parker. The Heat have had two days to prepare their rebuttal.
If Game 2 is played to Miami's style -- which means aggressive defense and mismatches created by James -- then this promises to be a pick-'em series that will go back and forth for six or seven games. If the Spurs are able to maintain their style, even if Miami is able to steal a win at the end, then the Heat will head off to San Antonio for Games 3, 4 and 5 knowing that they're in enormous trouble.
"I don't think we'll make the same mistakes we made in Game 1," said Heat guard Dwyane Wade. "That's what we always try to do, to come out the next game and be a different team. We always feel like as the series goes on, we get better and stronger."
This is the fifth of eight playoff series (dating back to the postseason of last year) in which Miami has been trailing in games. The Heat's M.O. has been to respond to such pressures constructively and aggressively.
"That fear kind of drives this team a little bit,'' said Bosh. "It gives us more of that sense of urgency to really do a much better job and have a much better focus the next game, and I think everybody knows that. For some reason when our backs are against the wall, we really respond appropriately. That kind of propels us to the rest of the series.''
Bosh's play will be an indicator. He is never going to be a low-post, back-to-the-basket punisher. But he does need to attack more, rather than settling for outside jump shots. He was criticized for missing all four of his threes in the opener, but his play was symptomatic of a larger problem -- the Heat attempted 25 shots from deep, but made just 12 free throws, meaning the Heat, as a team, were settling for jumpers rather than attacking the paint. That is an untenable ratio for an aggressive team like Miami.