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Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017
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Heat hope comforts of home will help

MIAMI - LeBron James knows his fourth-quarter offense in these NBA finals have been broken down countless ways, all with the same conclusion. They're not good. He has 11 points in the fourth quarters of the five games on 25 percent shooting, has missed all seven of his 3-point tries, hasn't made anything besides one layup and three dunks, has exactly zero offensive rebounds … the list of his statistical shortcomings down the stretch of finals games goes on and on. James is neither hiding from that nor making excuses for it.
"They're not going in for me right now," James said. "That won't deter me from taking that opportunity once I get them again." The opportunity will likely come tonight, when it's win-or-else time for the Miami Heat. Trailing 3-2 yet still confident, the Heat say they're already eager for the chance to host Game 6 against the Dallas Mavericks, who would love nothing more than to complete the turnabout from 2006 and win their first title on Miami's home floor. Miami knows exactly what Dallas is thinking, from being in that position five years ago, so the Heat say they know what to expect as well. "Game 6," Heat forward Udonis Haslem said, "will be the toughest of our lives." James came to Miami for championships. He's said nothing else would allow this season to be defined as successful. So there's no room for error. "Nothing that we've done or experienced together has been easy," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Starting from the very first day of training camp going up to an Air Force base and then experiencing all the trials and tribulations of the regular season … a lot of difficult roads. "The same goes true for LeBron. He wouldn't have it any other way than to have his back against the wall where everyone is counting him out." After Miami lost Game 5 in Dallas, Spoelstra told the team in the locker room that, if given the opportunity at the start of the season, he would accept the chance to play two games at home with the caveat of needing to win both for a world championship. Here's that chance. It's what the Los Angeles Lakers had to do to top the Boston Celtics a year ago, and the Heat are hoping for that history — not the one where a Dallas-Miami finals is won on the road in Game 6 — to repeat itself this time around. "That's the way our mentality is right now," Spoelstra said. "We feel very confident coming back here. That does not guarantee you a thing. Particularly in a series that is so competitive as this." Other than being down and having James under more scrutiny than even before — which says a lot — the Heat had some good news on Saturday. Dwyane Wade's left hip is fine, the 2006 finals MVP said, and not only will he play tonight but he'll play without any extra padding after bruising the joint in a Game 5 collision with Dallas' Brian Cardinal. "I'll be totally fine," Wade said. The Heat can only hope James says the same.
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