BOSTON – After his team completed its shootaround in preparation for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals on Thursday (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN), Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra conducted his entire seven-minute media session with a smile on his face.
Spoelstra spoke of Game 6 at the TD Garden, where the Heat have lost 15 of their last 16 games, as a chance for his team to prove itself, rather than as some daunting task.
“Regardless of how you get here, 3-2, it’s a great opportunity for us,” Spoelstra said. “All we have to do is win one on each court to take the next step toward our dream. Our guys fully understand that.”
And he spoke of Games 4 and 5 as games that could have gone either way. The Heat had multiple chances to win Game 4 here in Boston, and they had a six-point lead in the fourth quarter of Game 5 in Miami on Tuesday.
“The loose balls in the last game,” Spoelstra said. “That’s really what it comes down to. And in the fourth game, it was make or miss. Sometimes, that’s what it comes down to.
“That’s why we have confidence coming into this. We feel that we had every opportunity to win those last two games. And if shots can go, everybody can look at this a little bit differently right now.”
One other reason to be confident: Chris Bosh will be on the floor longer than the 14 minutes he played in Game 5. Spoelstra wouldn’t say whether or not Bosh will start on Thursday, but said that he’ll be out there longer.
“He should be able to handle a bigger load,” Spoelstra said. “I doubt he can handle his load that he was playing before, 36 minutes. But he should be able to play more tonight.”
Bosh said he doesn’t care if he starts.
“That’s irrelevant at this point,” he said. “It’s all about getting the win. And I just want to have more minutes out there to try and do something special.”
Winning a Game 6 in Boston and forcing a Game 7 back in Miami on Saturday would indeed be something special for the Heat. And Spoelstra’s mood eight hours before game time is an indication that they’re thinking positive.
“Maybe we’re all too stubborn,” Spoelstra said. “I don’t know. But we’re coming into this game with a lot of confidence.”