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Armstrong: Four quick keys for the Heat heading into Game 4

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Jack Armstrong
6/12/2013 1:36:13 PM
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Three games into the NBA Finals and we've had two blowouts, with the Spurs leading the series 2-1. But this series is far from over. The Heat have lost their last three road games and have to get their act together or they'll be handing the Larry O'Brien Trophy over to the Spurs.

Here are four quick keys for the Heat to get back on track and get a 'W' on Thursday night in Game 4 to make this a best-of-three series and gain back home court advantage.     

1. THREE POINT DEFENCE: Needless to say, Gary Neal and Danny Green lit them up on home run balls.  That has to stop. The Heat must chase those guys off the line, fight through screens and locate them at all times. The Spurs have used the three effectively and it has to be a greater point of emphasis for the Heat to challenge all shots. No clean looks. Transition D has been lousy - sprint back, locate shooters, close out and contest.

2. REBOUNDING: The Heat have had their challenges at times this season, winning the board battles. They must be more physical with Tiago Splitter and Tim Duncan and win some 50/50 loose ball battles. Effort, and more importantly, multiple efforts must be there on each and every possession. How bad do you want it?            

3. LEBRON JAMES: The Spurs have done a terrific job (particularly Kawhi Leonard) in making LeBron a volume shooter and limiting his good looks. The Heat need to manufacture some quick hitting scoring chances for LeBron early in the game on Thursday and get him going. Set plays off of interior screens for post-ups, get him in pick and rolls as a receiver and run some screen action for him. Obviously, in transition he needs to be assertive and attack. Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade haven't played to their potential. That hurts. You get LeBron going and gradually things will open up for others.                   

4. BACKS TO THE WALL:  The moment of truth is at hand. They've responded before and that should give them great confidence. Attention to detail and willingness to pay the price to win all the mini-battles within the game has to be there.  Feed off the road crowd and shut them up. Come together and have each other's backs – no finger pointing. This is the moment to cherish and enjoy. It's far from easy to win a championship. Pass the test and rise to the challenge. If I'm the Heat players and coaches, I can't wait to get to the gym tomorrow to lace 'em up and show what I'm all about. Yes, lots of it is finding ways to psyche yourself up. Shouldn't need lots to do that. All you need to do is look at how embarrassing the Game 3 final result was and vow that it's time to play 'Heat basketball'.  Bring it on... I can't wait. It should be fun. 

LeBron James (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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