Heat players know they always face a tough time in San Antonio
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SAN ANTONIO - This city was ready.
An afternoon flotilla of boats, with fans decked in Spurs' gear, made their way through the downtown Riverwalk. The phrase "Go Spurs Go" is plastered everywhere.
A massive traffic jam kept several Spurs, notably Tony Parker and Tim Duncan, from pulling into AT&T Center at their usual early arrival. There was a time when all this may have been old hat here deep in the heart of Texas, given San Antonio's penchant for playing in the NBA Finals during Duncan's career.
But since Tuesday night's Game 3 of the Finals was their first home contest in the league's championship round since 2007, and the series was tied at 1, the Heat was expecting the Spurs to be amped up and play well in their own friendly confines -- a place where they'd compiled a 42-7 record entering Tuesday night.
"We know that they are a very good home team," Heat forward Chris Bosh said before the tip. "They are going to be very excited to have a week of the Finals at their house and we just have to be prepared for that. But we know what we are capable of. We know we need to come out and play our game and get a win."
That, however, hasn't been an easy thing for Miami. The Heat had won just three of 25 games in San Antonio, with one of those victories coming this season when Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra both decided to rest the bulk of their starters.
Of course, none of that mattered at this point and the only thing Spoelstra was concerned about was not allowing the Spurs to dictate pace and control things.
"Look, the most important thing is getting to our game," Spoelstra said. "They are going to make adjustments, but so far in the series, it's been more about position, finishing plays, finishing quarters, finishing the game. That's been the bigger issues for both teams. But both teams are making adjustments.
"It's not as if either team hasn't seen a coverage at this point in the year. One hundred-plus games, both teams have seen everything you can possibly show."
The Heat surely showed the Spurs a thing or two in Game 2 on Sunday. San Antonio uncharacteristically went belly-up in Game 2, watching Miami seize control with a 33-5 run that had Popovich pulling his starters.
Bosh knows the Heat is not likely to have that type of run again.
"Game 2? Forget about Game 2," Bosh said. "That rarely happens in the Finals. We just had a timely assault. That's most likely not going to happen [again]. We just have to move on and play this as a different game. We know they are going to make adjustments offensively and defensively to slow us down a little bit.
"We have to be ready for that and we just really have to do a good job on our start [of the game]. That's the most important thing."
Said Shane Battier: "We expect them to play with more energy in front of their home fans," Battier said. "It's always been a tough place to play. They have great fans and it's a loud arena. So we know we have a very slim margin of error."