Miami Heat aiming for top seed -- even if they don't admit it
FEB 26, 2014 11:39a ET
''We never talked about home-court last year and we got it because we were playing the way we feel we need to play,'' coach Erik Spoelstra told FOX Sports Florida. ''We never talk about winning a championship -- that goes without saying, except for the first day of training camp.
''It's more important how we're playing, a consistency, are we getting to our identity -- those things are bedrocks for us. Everything else seems to fall in place when we do those things.''
Miami (40-14) will enter Thursday night's home game against the New York Knicks trailing the conference-leading Pacers by two games overall and by just one in the loss column.
The Heat won the East last year, when they used home-crowd support to defeat Indiana in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals and San Antonio in Games 6 and 7 of the NBA Finals to repeat as champions.
That playoff loss was a big reason the Pacers have focused on the top seed since the beginning of this season.
''We're going for it,'' Indiana coach Frank Vogel said in November.
"The fact that Game 7 of the conference finals wasn't in our home building we felt was the difference in a trip to the Finals,'' Pacers forward David West said, ''and we're going to do everything in our power to get a Game 7 in our building.''
Just because the Heat prefer not to discuss it, doesn't mean Miami isn't aiming to overtake Indiana during the regular season's final two months as it goes for a three-peat.
''It's in sight, but our goal is to win every game,'' forward/center Chris Bosh said. ''We know if we do that, everything will take care of itself. We don't want to talk about it too much. We just talk about getting better every day.
''(When) you talk about that stuff, things can kind of get out of hand and it doesn't go your way.''
''Nope, the emphasis is to continue to play well,'' Wade said. ''It's different for us. We've been in different seats before. We've been the No. 1 seed, (and) we haven't been. We've struggled, we've played well.
''So, when it comes out this year, we know what to do. We know for us to be successful, we just need to be playing well, and confident in our game.''
James pretty much said the same thing, only differently.
''For us, we want to play at a high level,'' James said. ''We have to focus on each and every game and not worry about the end of the season. We have too many games and too many opportunities to get better to worry about what happens at the end of the season.
''If we continue on the path we're on right now, we'll give ourselves a good chance to be in whatever position we want to be in.''
Miami's 54-game record is the same as last season, and just a game behind the pace (39-15) of 2011-12. Imagine if this year's Heat had not lost to Brooklyn twice, New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Detroit, Sacramento, Atlanta and Utah -- all teams currently below .500.
''You don't want to lose to the good teams, you want to beat the good teams, (and) you don't want to lose to the teams that aren't as good, then we'd be 82-0,'' Wade said. ''So, you gotta lose to somebody. You understand in this league that, as much as you want to, you know you can't play your 'A' game 82 games in the season.''
Since Jan. 21, Miami's only loss to a current sub-.500 team was against the Jazz in Utah on Feb. 8.
''Most of those games, with the exception of Utah, were early in the season,'' Bosh said. ''We were still trying to find our way, of course, trying to find a feel for the rest of the season.
''I think we're to a point where we're kind of at a space where you have to play every day, very well, with the playoffs getting closer. We're trying to flip that No. 1 seed and everything, and every game is important.''
Flip the No. 1 seed? Chris, shhh ...