The Miami Heat face the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 4 of their first-round playoff series Sunday afternoon. Win, and its a sweep and onto the second round for the Heat. Lose, and it is back to Miami for Game 5 on Sunday.
"It's important for us to close them out because it's the next game," Heat forward LeBron James said after Miami's 104-91 win on Thursday. "It's going to be different. It won't be the same as Game 1 or Game 2 or Game 3, today. But if we come in with the same mindset, or even more desperation as we did today, we give ourselves a good chance to win."
The Heat have cruised to three wins by double-digit points over the Bucks, but trailed in the third quarter of both Games 1 and 3.
The Bucks have forced Miami into more turnovers than usual (17.3 per game, compared to 13.9 during the regular season), but the Heat have out-rebounded the Bucks 44-34 per game and have shot an efficient 51% from the field (despite shooting a subpar for them 34% from three-point range).
Miami could play Sunday without All-Star guard Dwyane Wade, who continues to deal with three bone bruises on his right knee. He missed six games late in the season from the injury, and received treatment on the knee Friday in Milwaukee.
From all accounts, the Heat are trying to be cautious given the high likelihood of advancing to the next round of the playoffs. No team has come back from a 3-0 playoff series deficit in NBA history.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said the team is taking a wait-and-see approach with Wade. "Structurally, his knee is as good as it's been in years. That's why we're treating it day to day," Spoelstra said.
"This was a bone bruise. What it needs is time and it gets better. But what it also needs is no collisions."
Wade struggled on Thursday night, scoring just four points on 1-of-12 shooting (his worst ever in a postseason game). But he did add 11 assists, nine rebounds, five steals and two blocks, and his struggles shooting may not have been related to the knee soreness.
"We'll see how he feels today and see how he feels tomorrow," Spoelstra said Friday.
Should Miami not play Wade, Ray Allen or Shane Battier would likely start in his place.
Game 4 coverage begins at 3:30pm ET Sunday, with coverage on ABC and Sun Sports.