The questions were wrapping up for LeBron James when a late-arriving inquisitor made his way through black curtains in the back of the interview room. There was one final query that had to be made.
“You ready to go to practice so we can get better, bruh?” Dwyane Wade asked his teammate. “You’ve been talking all day, let’s go.”
As Wade turned toward the practice court inside the San Antonio Spurs’ training facility Saturday afternoon, James offered his retort in a high-pitched voice, channeling former Philadelphia 76ers star Allen Iverson.
“Practice?” James said, repeating the famous Allen rant and prompting a smile from Wade. “Not the game, you’re talking about practice? All right, I’ve got to get to practice.”
It was mercifully back to basketball for the Miami Heat one day after “Crampgate” had dominated the narrative, though the Heat still had plenty of issues to confront.
Miami trails San Antonio, one game to none, in the NBA Finals heading into Game 2 on Sunday at the AT&T Center.
The Heat allowed the Spurs’ Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter to make a combined 14 of 16 shots in the series opener. San Antonio’s Danny Green was a perfectionist in the final six minutes, scoring 11 points on four-for-four shooting. And the Heat went scoreless over the final 2:46, wilting with its best player sidelined because of debilitating cramps.
James said he was feeling “much better” roughly 40 hours after temperatures inside the AT&T Center had hovered around 90 degrees because of an air-conditioning shutdown. He said he would test his body with some bicycle work and running in advance of Game 2, when conditions inside the arena are expected to be back to normal.
“The tank was empty and I used the reserve tank until my body couldn’t go no more,” James said of his experience in the series opener. “I’m going to try to do the same thing on [Sunday]. Obviously I don’t want to go too far running my tank out. I want to be able to finish the game but you have to have that mind-set, there is no tomorrow.”
There might not be if the Heat doesn’t win Game 2.
Only three of 31 teams have come back to win the NBA Finals after facing 2-0 deficits — Boston against the Lakers in 1969, Portland against Philadelphia in 1977 and Miami against Dallas in 2006.
One stat that could work in the Heat’s favor: It has won its last 12 games in the playoffs after a loss.
“We’re able to bounce back, go to the film room, take account and not just bypass the mistakes we had in the previous game,” James said. “And I think it’s allowed us to move on and better ourselves for the next game.”
It would help if someone besides Chris Bosh showed up in the fourth quarter. Bosh was the only Heat player to score more than three points over the final 12 minutes in Game 1, the center getting eight points as his teammates combined to make four of 12 shots.
Of course, Miami also found itself down after the first game last season and went on to win a second consecutive title.
It’s too early in the series to question the Heat, unless you’re wondering when it’s time to get back to practice.