The Miami Heat currently have the unenviable task of completing a brutal six-game road trip through the meat grinder that is the Western Conference to face five playoff teams, including Oklahoma City and Golden State, who clobbered the Heat in South Florida.
The good thing though is that Miami has started the road trip with a win after holding on to finish off the Los Angeles Clippers in a 116-112 thriller, despite a late rampage by Blake Griffin and Co.
The Clippers had cut a 17-point deficit to just two; however, the Heat were able to hold on in the final seconds of the game, even though the high-flying Griffin put up 43 points in front of a sold-out Staples Center crowd and Jamal Crawford added 31 points. Still, it wasn’t enough to break the defending champions.
Coach Erik Spoelstra, albeit disappointed that his team nearly wasted the lead, praised his players’ resolve in the closing stages.
“I did mention that to the guys,” he said. That’s precisely what we came into the game wanting to work on, the resolve and mental toughness. The emotional stability. We certainly got tested [Wednesday].
Miami has now won eight of their last 10 games and LeBron James (after flirting with a triple double again – 31 points, 12 assists, eight rebounds) was quick to note that by saying, “We’ve been playing some good basketball lately. We want to continue that.” And what better opportunity to do so than facing a Utah Jazz team scrapping the bottom of the barrel in the Western Conference?
Moreover, Coach Spo gave his players the day off on Thursday, so they should be properly rested and boy did they make the most of it.
Getting this great pedicure/foot massage+ shoulder/neck massage at the same dang time! Have to take… http://t.co/fQpflulCer
— LeBron James (@KingJames) February 5, 2014