Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 5/29/13
MIAMI In a 18-minute briefing with the media Wednesday, Miami coach Erik Spoelstra used the word competition or a variation of it 23 times. If you get the idea Spoelstra didnt feel his team competed as well as it could have in Tuesdays 99-92 loss at Indiana, you would be right. Nowhere was that more evident than on the glass. The Heat were outrebounded 49-30, allowing the Pacers to tie the Eastern Conference finals 2-2 heading into Thursday nights Game 5 at AmericanAirlines Arena. We just have to do better, Spoelstra said. We have to be more committed without any excuses and just get it done. Thats what its going to take to beat this team and were capable of it. So that will be our focus in Game 5. Wait a minute. Spoelstra didnt us any variations of that word in that quote. But he more than made up for it elsewhere. Its about trying to win the competition, he said. Its not about blame. Its not about deflection. Its not about anything else. Lets go right to the heart of the matter and try to win the competition the next time, and we have a great locker room of alpha competitors. So there you have three of the 23 times he used it. This is a fierce series. Whichever team can survive two of the next three games will earn the right to face San Antonio in the NBA Finals that start June 6. The Spurs, who wrapped up a sweep of Memphis on Monday, have to be relishing watching the Heat and Pacers beat each other up while they rest. On Tuesday, it was more Indiana beating up Miami. The Pacers outscored the Heat 50-32 in the paint. Center Roy Hibbert and power forward David West each had 12 rebounds for the bigger Pacers. Meanwhile, Miamis leading rebounder was guard Ray Allen with seven. The 7-foot-2 Hibbert has been a load for the Heat to handle. With 23 points Tuesday, hes now averaging 22.8 points and 12.0 rebounds in the series. Just trying to be physical, 275 (pounds), Hibbert said. I got to throw my body around. Spoelstra, though, denies Hibberts size makes him too tough to handle against the Heat. Youknow what it comes down to. It's competition at its best, Spoelstra said. We got to do more. Theres no excuses if we want to win. A few more rebounds from Heat center Chris Bosh wouldnt hurt. Hes averaging a meager 3.3 boards in the series, meaning hes been outrebounded overall 48-13 by Hibbert. And now Bosh might be ailing, having sprained his right ankle Tuesday. He limped to the locker room with 5:05 left in the third quarter but was able to return with 8:42 remaining in the game. Bosh shrugged off any concern about the injury following the loss, saying, No, I finished the game. With the Heat not practicing Tuesday and Spoelstra talking to the media before Bosh came in for treatment, the coach said he didnt have an update yet. Bosh did admit the Pacers got too many offensive rebounds. They had 15, with Hibbert grabbing six and West four. On the other end, Bosh has said his rebounding numbers are often hampered because he plays outside on offense in an attempt to space the floor. With that being the case, it also hasnt helped the Heats rebounding that their outside shooters arent making buckets. Top marksman Allen, Shane Battier, Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole are a combined 11 of 43 in the series on 3-pointers, including having gone 3 of 13 Tuesday. Spoelstra didnt rule out that he might give some time in Game 5 to Mike Miller, saying, Hes ready to go if needed. The Heat overall have had rebounding problems this season against the Pacers. They were walloped 55-36 Jan. 8 at Indiana in an 87-77 loss. Miami has been outrebounded by at least five in every game this season against Indiana, but only in that January loss and in the latest one has the margin been in double digits. The Heat are 3-2 in other games against the Pacers, meaning a key for Miami is simply to keep the margin close. We never said we can get pummeled on the glass. That is not a winning formula for us, Spoelstra said. We cant afford to get beat on the glass by 20, Heat forward LeBron James said after Tuesdays game. Cant happen. James started off the series by grabbing 10 boards in Game 1 and saying he needs to rebound more to help counteract Indianas big and physical frontline. But James has fallen off since then, and his series average is now at 7.0, less than his regular-season number of 8.0. Much of the talk, though, since Tuesdays game has been about James fouling out for just the second time in 128 career playoff games. James said after the game he didnt feel as if the disqualifying offensive foul he got with 56 seconds should have been called. James also questioned several other whistles. But Spoelstra didnt offer any complaints Wednesday about the officiating. Its irrelevant, Spoelstra said. You adjust to however its being called. At the end of the day, its about winning the competition. You probably have figured out by now Spoelstra wants his team to compete harder in Game 5. Chris Tomasson can be reached at christomasson@hotmail.com or on Twitter @christomasson
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