MIAMI -- Chris Bosh is a believer in words. He doesn't choose his on a whim and he's very careful about how he uses them to answer questions. That is very different than being cautious and afraid. If anything, Bosh is the last honest man left in the league.
Throughout the Finals, Bosh has expressed a sort of zen calmness about everything. He attributes that sense of enlightenment to the realization that he had to stop caring about what outsiders had to say about him and his team. That awareness has allowed him to be one of the most thoughtful interview subjects in the league.
So when he was asked how he would describe the situation he and the Miami Heat find themselves in, down 2-1 in the Finals after getting blown out at home in Game 3 as words like "frustration" and "anger" filled the air, his response was placid.
"Good, calm, beautiful, anything positive you can think of," Bosh answered. "I don't even want to use negative words. I don't even like using ‘negative.' It's just what it is, man. You got to lock in and stay focused and believe in yourself. That's the main thing. If you believe in yourself you can do anything. You can't force it, just go out there and make it happen, man. We've been playing this game our whole life, there's no reason to change it now."
Someone asked if the Spurs were the most difficult team the Heat have faced and without missing a beat, he answered, "No. We are."
That's the crux of the situation for the Heat. It's not arrogance or hubris. It's the realization that they didn't show up to a game in the Finals on their home court when they had no right to take that kind of laissez faire approach to anything.
There is a level that only they can reach when they can erase a huge lead and make even a double-digit lead seem like nothing but a number. For all the technical brilliance of the Spurs, the Heat have that special gear and everyone knows it.
"From the get-go, we're supposed to be the avalanche," Bosh said. "You know, we're supposed to have the momentum. We were at home. It seemed like they were playing a home game. They just had a comfort level that they haven't had at all. I don't care, win or lose since coming here. I think it was the worst game of the season, probably the worst game we've played together, and we just took it on the chin."
Bosh wasn't brushing off the breakdowns that led to the Heat getting eviscerated on the defensive end of the floor. This was raw honesty and there's no getting away from that. The Heat didn't practice on Wednesday, opting instead for an extra-long film session that was a painful reminder of the Spurs going 19-for-21 to open the game and building a 25-point lead.
"I mean, it's just disappointing to see the lack of effort and the lack of focus and execution that we had," Bosh said. "To be honest, we stopped trusting each other a little bit, at least that's my interpretation on offense and on defense. Overall, our guys weren't doing our jobs. We all weren't doing our jobs. When you get to this level against a very good team like this, we pushed each other to the brink last year, it's disappointing to see the lack of effort. We've got to do better."
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We have reached the introspection stage of the Miami Heat Experience and Bosh had more to say before everyone decides that when this season ends, this mini-dynasty will be over and a new iteration will take its place.
Stories and sources have been flying left and right the last few days, about Melo and future plans for a Big Four or whatever it should be called. If it's not obvious to everyone by now, it should be: they're not going anywhere. When the dust settles the Heat will look very different than what we've come to know the last few years, but the core will be here.
In a sense this is all still abstract, but it's becoming more and more real as the Heat struggle to get back to that championship level that this is it for the current group. Even If Wade, James and Bosh all stick around and recruit new players to join the cause, things will look very different next season.
"We all got contract situations," Bosh said. "People ask me about contracts every single day. That doesn't mean anything. If I don't produce on the court there will be no contract. So focus on ball. Just move past that. I can't say I've handled everything perfectly, but ever since coming here I've learned to focus on the game, focus on the attention to detail and everything else will take care of itself. You can't worry about what's going to happen tomorrow when you're missing right now. Overall as a team that's what we're doing right now. We're worried about tomorrow.
"What helps is we better get this thing together or we don't even want to think about what happens. We've seen what happens when we just lay it all on the line and I don't feel we've done that in the Finals yet. Maybe Game 2. Game 1 we had our chance. Game 3 at home we didn't do it and that's disappointing. We have a chance to really show ourselves that, yeah we can dig deep, and it's going to be difficult, but we can dig deep and get this job done. It starts with tomorrow."
The future will take care of itself. The here and now? Dudes got work to do.
While the Heat try to figure themselves out, the Spurs were once again asked to reveal their secrets. How do they do it? How do they manage to keep playing so well after all this time together, while resurrecting stalled careers and kickstarting new ones? As a general rule, the Spurs don't really do introspection, but Good Pop was out at the press conference to give it a shot.
On how he's evolved as a coach: "I think I've learned to shut up more, and that probably is due to Manu Ginobili. When he first came I was going to make him a heck of a player. And after 20 minutes I realized that he didn't need me to do that. He was already a heck of a player. Sometimes being quiet and letting the player play is much more important than trying to be Mr. Coach and teach him this or teach him that."
On helping Kawhi Leonard deal with the media attention: "I think everybody has to be their own person when they deal with the media, and Kawhi has done a great job. He's a really respectful, polite young man, and he speaks less than Timmy ever did. He just wants to do his job. He wants to be a great player and go home. That's basically who he is."
On how he views Duncan, Ginobili and Tony Parker: "They've gotten over themselves is what we always talk about. It's absolutely not about any one of them, and they know that. Last night Timmy and Manu didn't do anything amazing, but they are thrilled for Danny (Green) and Kawhi, for the few minutes Matt Bonner gave us, that sort of thing. If you have three people on your team that lead the way in that manner, it's to be enjoyed on a daily basis."
On developing and teaching players: "It's one of the most enjoyable parts of the business, I think. You take somebody like Danny Green, who we've worked with for a long time and actually cut him twice. When you see somebody develop and come into his own, you feel like you did something worthwhile."
You can't find two more diametrically-opposed situations in the league than the Spurs and Heat. But strip away the artifice and what you find are two teams trying desperately to get the measure of one another. This is, to steal a line from Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, elite competition.
If this doesn't get your heart racing and your pulse pounding then you should question why why you care about this sport in the first place. The Heat have been backed into corner. The Spurs want what they have. This is good as it gets and Game 4 awaits.