ORLANDO (Reuters) – To the Miami Heat, beating the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 3 of the NBA Finals was more than just a crucial victory.
It showed they could hold their own in the series, even without two of their most potent play-off producers.
And so the Heat come in with a renewed sense of confidence as they look to even the best-of-seven showdown in Game 4 on Tuesday night (Oct 6) at the National Basketball Association bubble near Orlando.
Miami dropped its first two against Los Angeles by double-digit margins before responding with a 115-104 win on Sunday that swung the momentum in its favour, at least for the time being.
“We’re going to win,” Heat swingman Jimmy Butler said of Game 4. “We’re going to compete. We’re not going to lay down; we’re going to fight back in this thing and even it up 2-2.”
Butler almost single-handedly led Miami to its triumph on Sunday, scoring 40 points to go with 13 assists and 11 rebounds in his first career play-off triple-double.
He accomplished the feat while playing 45 minutes for the second consecutive game, as Goran Dragic (foot) and Bam Adebayo (neck/shoulder) remained sidelined by their injuries suffered in Game 1.
Miami look set to the boosted by the return of Adebayo, who has been upgraded from doubftul to questionable for Game 4, saying Monday the decision would be up to the team’s medical staff.
While guard Dragic was once again listed as doubtful, the return of their star centre will be a boon.
“I could play or they could tell me no,” Adebayo said.”I’m getting better. It’s up to the medical staff… I’m trying to get back as quickly as possible. It’s really day-to-day. When they say I’m ready to play, I’ll be out there.”
“I’m doing everything I can do,” Dragic, whose foot injury is more serious than Adebayo’s shoulder problem, said. “It does feel better than when it happened. But we’ll see. I don’t have a timetable yet.”
The Lakers can, however, take solace knowing they remain in control of the series.
“I don’t feel like we’re concerned,” Los Angeles star LeBron James said. “We’re not concerned. We know we can play a lot better. We have another opportunity to take a commanding lead on Tuesday. You relish that opportunity.”
The Lakers haven’t dropped back-to-back games all post-season and they still fancy their chances of a 3-1 lead. “I like how we respond after losing a game,” Los Angeles reserve forward Markieff Morris added.