June 17, 2012 in Sports

Heat would enjoy an end to their travel plans

Ira Winderman Sun Sentinel (Fla.)

MIAMI – To a degree, regaining homecourt advantage in these NBA Finals has become an all-or-nothing proposition for the Heat.

Win the next three games at their AmericanAirlines Arena and they’re the 2012 NBA champions.

Otherwise, it means having to go back to Oklahoma City, where the Thunder have lost only once in 10 home playoff games, with that coming Thursday night in a game some think slipped away from them only because a foul on the Heat’s LeBron James against Kevin Durant went uncalled.

For the Heat, who have been dominant on their home court this season, even they recognize that ending it this next week may be asking a bit much.

“Our guys like playing here,” coach Erik Spoelstra said Saturday as he looked ahead to today’s Game 3 of this best-of-7 series. “They understand the importance of playing well at home. We also have the perspective and maturity that that doesn’t guarantee you anything.”

Especially in the finals, the only playoff round in either the NBA or NHL that is played on a 2-3-2 basis.

Since the NBA went to the 2-3-2 format to reduce what had become constant coast-to-coast travel between the Los Angeles Lakers and either Boston Celtics or Philadelphia 76ers, the home team has won the middle three games only twice: the Detroit Pistons against the Lakers in 2004 and the Heat when they won the 2006 championship against the Dallas Mavericks. But only in 2004 did the series end on the home court of the team that swept the middle three, with the Heat winning in Game 6 in Dallas in 2006.

The true danger in this series had been Chesapeake Energy Arena, which Dwyane Wade said may have been the loudest arena he has visited during his nine NBA seasons.

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