Buck Harvey: Heat edge: Tonight just the usual hatred

DALLAS — This time, they laughed. This time, Dwyane Wade posed in front of the Mavericks’ bench before LeBron James threw a couple of playful jabs.

And when they came apart shortly after? America loved it.

But there was a time when they cried, and America loved that, too. Those days were not unlike the final seven minutes of Game 2: Chris Bosh was as confused as Erik Spoelstra was clueless then, and James dribbled until he missed.

The Heat overcame all of that during the long season, however, and that’s what should worry the Mavericks tonight.

After this circus of a season, isn’t some embarrassment and failure just the usual for Miami?

James and his teammates have learned to live with standards that apply only to them. Kevin Durant heard far less, for example, in the Western Conference finals. Then, he strapped on an imaginary championship belt after swishing the kind of 3-pointer that Wade made Thursday.

The Mavericks rallied in that game, too. But Jason? Terry didn’t say anything about Durant then, nor did the media, when a few comments could have been said.

One possibility: Durant must have really been strapping on an imaginary diaper.

Then there’s the point that James made about Terry on Saturday. “If (Terry) runs down the court doing the whole wings expanded,” James said, “do we count that as a celebration as well?”

A few people in San Antonio have seen the Jet act and are nodding right now. Terry is far from the model of professional comportment.

“I just think,” James continued, “everything gets blown out of proportion when the Miami Heat does things.”

James brought it on himself. Still, somewhere in the middle of the taunts and the blame, with everyone but South Florida rooting against the Heat, the abnormal became the normal.

Maybe the bottom came in March, when James and Wade missed last-second shots and Miami lost its fifth game in six tries. That’s when Spoelstra, trying to emphasize how much his guys cared, said, “There are a couple of guys crying there in the locker room.”

What followed was all-star schadenfreude, and it went far beyond fans and media.

“Wait ’til I call him, man,” Carmelo Anthony said of Bosh then. “I’ll be like, ‘What are you doing?’”

What were they doing? They were enduring harsh criticism and angry arenas as they tried to contend in their first year together. At times it had to be frustrating, if not maddening, and yet here they are in the Finals.

Here they are, too, as a dominant team that threw away Game 2. Miami has played better for longer in the first two games, and it fits with what the Heat did against the 76ers, Celtics and Bulls before.

So what happens now? Bosh is back to his teary days, shooting 26 percent in the Finals. Spoelstra was out-coached Thursday. James ran no offense in the final minutes before missing threes, which is what he was doing in January. And, having given away such a game, there’s reason to wonder how they will respond on the road under Finals pressure.

Still, Miami has a few things to lean on. One is talent.

Another was there Thursday until the end, which is the Heat defense. Dallas plays defense, too, but not like this. Dirk Nowitzki calls it “almost suffocating.”

Then there’s what Wade said Saturday. “It’s going to be a hostile environment,” he said. “Nothing the Miami Heat are not used to.”

Everything has been hostile for seven months, and maybe that’s their edge now. They’ve been able to set aside their failures, and whatever anyone says about them, and the aftermath of Game 2 fits into that.

They celebrate too much?

They’ve heard much, much worse.


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