Mailbag: If Raptors blow it up can Heat swoop in for Kyle Lowry or DeMar DeRozan?

Toronto’s Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan wait for a free-throw during the second half of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Cavaliers Monday in Cleveland. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Time for another Miami Heat mailbag

If you were not able to ask a question this time, send them along for future mailbags via Twitter to @tomdangelo44 and @Anthony_Chiang. You can also e-mail me at

Don, Fort Lauderdale: If the Raptors blow it up could the Heat jump in and trade for some of their players?

Many believed the Raptors should have blown up their roster a year ago but they gambled, handed out several long-term contracts, and brought back most of their players (sound familiar?). Now, after president Masai Ujiri said, “we need a culture reset here” a year ago, where does he go from here after being swept in the conference semifinals for the second consecutive year by the Cavaliers? And this time as the No. 1 seed?

If you think the Heat are in salary cap hell, take a look at the Raptors who have three players eating up $80.4 million next season: point guard Kyle Lowry, $31.0 million; shooting guard DeMar DeRozan, $27.7 million; power forward Serge Ibaka, $21.7 million. Add center Jonas Valanciunas’ $16.5 million option and that puts the Raptors just $4 million shy of the projected $101 million salary cap.

If Toronto is looking for that “culture reset” it’ll probably start in the backcourt. DeRozan and Lowry are coming off All-Star seasons before once again wilting in the postseason. Lowry was an All-Star for the fourth consecutive season although his scoring dipped more than six points to 16.2 per game and he’s 32. DeRozan is four years younger and averaged 23.0 points per game.

DeRozan would bring the biggest return but he’s the player the Raptors may want to attempt to rebuild around. Toronto could look at one of the other teams looking to unload their All-Star point guard, like the Wizards (John Wall) or the Hornets (Kemba Walker), in a Lowry deal. Those options are more attractive than pursing Goran Dragic, who also recently turned 32. But if Toronto is looking for more young players perhaps they would be willing to expand the deal.

Of course, the Heat may not want to stop there, but the question is who else would they want? (Please, not Ibaka). The Raptors have some nice young players, some of whom like Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby they’ll want to hold onto. But in the Heat followers quest to trade Hassan Whiteside would the Raptors think about moving Valanciunas and making this a much larger deal?

Why not? But remember, any deal with a team like Toronto or even Washington or Milwaukee reeks of two desperate teams just hoping to push their problem onto another team.

Which leads us to another possible trade question …

@vfraumeni3: Any chance if Whiteside is moved that the spurs would take him? A move involving Hassan and Dion and a future 1st for (Kawhi Leonard) and (Patty Mills) could work well i think

So, Hassan Whiteside and Dion Waiters for Kawhi Leonard and Patty Mills? Pat Riley would drive to San Antonio in August with no air conditioning and the windows stuck in the up position if that’s what it took to get that deal done.

Whiteside will not end up a Spur unless the teams agree on a blockbuster. In fact, I’d put the chances of Leonard being to Miami next season better than Whiteside wearing a San Antonio uniform. But that would take the Spurs being rejected by several other teams before having serious talks with the Heat regarding a Leonard deal.

[Mailbag: Would expiring contracts be enough for the Heat in a Hassan Whiteside trade?]

[Erik Spoelstra says there’s a storyline that hasn’t drawn much attention, and it involves Rodney McGruder]

[The number of head coaching changes in NBA since Erik Spoelstra’s first season is staggering]

[Heat to participate in Sacramento summer league before heading to Las Vegas]

[Kelly Olynyk thrives in Heat system; says he’s ready to expand role]

[Want more Heat news sent directly to your Facebook feed? Make sure to like our Heat Facebook page]


Mailbag: With no cap space or draft picks, can the Heat really improve this offseason?

Andy Elisburg, Pat Riley and Nick Arison celebrated the Miami Heat’s championship in 2013 (Getty Images)

MIAMI — It’s time for another Heat mailbag.

If you weren’t able to ask a question this time, send your questions for future mailbags via Twitter (@Anthony_Chiang and @tomdangelo44). You can also email me at

Ajith, Miami: The Heat are capped out, have a bunch of bad contracts and don’t have a draft pick. How does anybody expect Miami to improve this summer?

Anthony Chiang: It’s not going to be easy, that’s for sure. But don’t ever count out the Heat, especially with Pat Riley and Andy Elisburg working to improve the roster behind the scenes. The fact is they are facing some big obstacles, though. Miami has 11 players under contract for 2018-19 who are due $120 million. That puts the Heat way above the projected $101 million salary cap and very close to the projected $123 million luxury tax line. This does not include re-signing Wayne Ellington or bringing back Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem, a sequence of moves that will put the Heat over the tax line if other salary can’t be shed. With all of that being said, the only way Miami can really improve its roster this offseason is through trades. Without cap space, the free agency path is out. Without a pick, the draft path is out. That leaves the Heat looking to make a deal. What attractive assets does Miami have to include in a deal? Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow, Bam Adebayo, Goran Dragic and a 2019 first-round pick are the Heat’s top trade assets entering the summer. The question is, will that be enough to land an All-Star caliber player or will these assets just be used as sweeteners to dumb a few of their bad contracts?

@mcLoveHer: Can Phoenix trade our pick back to us?

Anthony Chiang: Nice try. The Heat currently don’t have a pick in this year’s June 21 draft. Miami’s 2018 first-round selection belongs to the Suns — the first of two first-round picks owed from the 2015 acquisition of Dragic. The Heat also still owe the Suns an unprotected 2021 first-round pick to complete that transaction. The good news is the 2021 first-round pick is now the only future first-round selection the Heat have committed elsewhere.

[Heat president Pat Riley explains why he’s not ‘a draft pick guy’]

[List of familiar faces on Phoenix Suns just got longer for Goran Dragic after coaching hire]

[What is next in the evolution of Heat’s Justise Winslow?]

[Dwyane Wade surprises Waffle House hero James Shaw Jr. during Ellen Show]

[What are the Heat’s chances of acquiring Kawhi Leonard this summer?]

[Want more Heat news sent directly to your Facebook feed? Make sure to like our Heat Facebook page]

List of familiar faces on Phoenix Suns just got longer for Goran Dragic after coaching hire

In this Sept. 17, 2017, file photo, Slovenia coach Igor Kokoskov applauds during the Eurobasket European Basketball Championship final against Serbia in Istanbul. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis, File)

MIAMI — Whenever Heat point guard Goran Dragic faces the Suns, he’s reunited with plenty of familiar faces after spending six seasons with the organization.

But his list of connections just got longer after Phoenix hired Igor Kokoskov as its head coach on Wednesday. Kokoskov was the head coach of the Slovenian national team last summer when the small country won the EuroBasket tournament championship behind the play of Dragic.

Kokoskov, a native of Serbia, coached the Slovenian national team in 2016 and 2017. He became the first European-born assistant in the NBA, with the Clippers in 2000, and is currently serving as an assistant with the Jazz.

“Congrats to Igor Kokoškov well deserved, great coach !!!! Good luck @Suns,” Dragic tweeted Wednesday night.

And the Suns could add another Dragic connection in this year’s NBA draft. Phoenix, which finished with the league’s worst record, will have a chance to draft coveted Slovenian prospect Luka Doncic — a projected top-five pick.

Is this all leading up to a Dragic-Suns reunion? Not necessarily, because a 31-year-old point guard who turns 32 on Sunday doesn’t make a lot of sense for a rebuilding franchise.

But when Dragic becomes a free agent in the 2020 offseason, the Suns will be an attractive option for him if Kokoskov is still the coach and an even more attractive option if Doncic is on the roster.

[What is next in the evolution of Heat’s Justise Winslow?]

[Dwyane Wade surprises Waffle House hero James Shaw Jr. during Ellen Show]

[What are the Heat’s chances of acquiring Kawhi Leonard this summer?]

[At 73, Heat’s Pat Riley not thinking retirement: ‘Something sucks you back in’]

[Want more Heat news sent directly to your Facebook feed? Make sure to like our Heat Facebook page]

With no commitments to national team, Goran Dragic looks forward to quiet summer, returning better and fresher next season

Miami’s Goran Dragic and Josh Richardson react after Dragic was fouled by Philadelphia’s Marco Belinelli during Game 3 of their first-round playoff series. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

MIAMI – Goran Dragic knows that day will come. He’ll be relaxing at his in Slovenia this summer, catching up on rest after a whirlwind nine months that saw him win a EuroBasket championship while being named tournament MVP, make his first NBA All-Star team and help lead the Miami Heat to the playoffs, and the calls will come.

“As soon as I get back home all my friends are, ‘Let’s play a pickup game,’” Dragic said. “I’m not going to do that, definitely.”

Or will he?

“Then they start teasing me, ‘You think you’re (too) good.’ You know, then you need to show them a little bit just to put them in the right spot. …

“But definitely, I’m not going to pick up a ball for quite a bit.”

Yeah, right.

Anybody who knows Dragic knows how difficult that will be. This man, who turns 32 Sunday, doesn’t have a second gear not even after a grueling stretch in which he went from that emotional European title right into Heat training camp last summer, with exactly two days to celebrate – and be celebrated – in his homeland.

So, Dragic, the Heat’s starting point guard and leading scorer during the regular season (17.3 points per game) and playoffs (18.6 ppg) will make a compromise.

“I’m going to enjoy, play different sports like tennis,” he said. “I like to play tennis.”

Dragic has been the soul of the Heat the last two years, the leader on the court who coach Erik Spoelstra counts on every night to play hard while settling his team. Qualities recognized by his peers who voted him a tri-captain before last season.

But Dragic’s style – aggressive, irritating to opponents that he sometimes gets under their skin – is a contrast to his off-court personality, friendly and as approachable a person as there is not only in the Heat locker room but in the league.

“I love his toughness,” Dwyane Wade said, after returning to the Heat for his second go-around as Dragic’s teammate.

But now is the time for Dragic to sit back. Of course, he’d rather still be playing, leading the Heat against the Celtics instead of watching the 76ers take on Boston after they eliminate Miami in five games, but the rest will help Dragic, who, will return to start his fourth full season with Miami after being acquired during the 2014-15 season and then signing a five-year, $85 million deal that will take him through the 2019-20 season.

But that return is not guaranteed, not after Pat Riley announced that nobody on the Heat is “untouchable” as he attempts to build a roster that can contend in the East, even though Riley said that Dragic and Josh Richardson were “probably the two most consistent players we had this year.”

Dragic will hang out in Miami for about another two weeks before he, his wife, Maya, and their two children, Mateo, 3, and Viktoria, 22 months, head home to Ljubljana for a quiet summer, one in which Dragic will not have any responsibilities to his national team.

“It’s going to be way different for me,” Dragic said. “I retired from the national team, I’m not going to play this summer. I’m going to have more time to work on my game, to be fresher (next) season, I’m going to be more hungry and I think that’s going to help me because when you already played half a season and you come in you’re a little bit tired.”

Although retired, Dragic has left open the possibility of playing for his national in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Although cutting back on basketball this summer will take some adjusting,  Dragic knows it will be for the best. He admitted something last week he never would have during the season, that he felt a bit fatigued all year after the nearly two-month grind of practicing for the European championships and then playing nine games before immediately moving his family back to Miami to prepare for the long NBA season.

Spoelstra cut back on Dragic’s work during training camp and limited his time during the preseason – he played in just two games – but Dragic then played 75 regular season games, his most during his three full seasons in Miami, and was second to Richardson in minutes, averaging 31.7 per game.

Dragic’s scoring, assists (5.8) and shooting percentage (.450) dipped from 2016-17, when he averaged 20.3 points, 5.8 assists and shot .475.

“Mentally I was OK but physically I had minor injuries,” he said. “You know those injuries if you keep playing they never go away. But it was nothing serious that I could not play.

“But if you’re asking me if I would do it again. … Yeah.”

And finally, Dragic really will soak in what it meant to his country to win their first European title. Those 48 hours at home after winning the Gold Medal game last September where spent packing, fulfilling media obligations and attending the parade. But it went so fast Dragic never really felt the impact.

Now he returns for the first time since as the most beloved figure in his country of just more than 2 million people. Dragic not only recently topped the list of the 100 Most Influential Slovenians, he received write-in votes in the country’s presidential election.

The trip home will have a bit more meaning this summer, but for Dragic, returning to his roots has meaning every summer.

“My country, they give me everything,” he said. “I was in school there. They make me (the) person I am now. I have friends, family. … as a family we’re really tight. I always cherish my ancestors, my grandpa, great grandpa, what they did for us, especially my dad moved from Bosnia. He started a new life in Slovenia.”

Dragic said he will always remember his father taking his children back to his native land to show them where he was raised and he wants to do the same for his kids. Dragic’s parents, Marinko and Mojca, still live in Ljubljana.

“I’m probably going to live here after my career but never forget where they come from.”

[At 73, Heat’s Pat Riley not thinking retirement: ‘Something sucks you back in’]

[Heat’s Dwyane Wade to Sixers’ Ersan Ilyasova: ‘Who are you?’]

[Pat Riley said Erik Spoelstra, Hassan Whiteside need an ‘intervention,’ adds ‘I’m going to try to help both of them’]

[Should Heat take on final year of Carmelo Anthony’s large contract to shed future money?]

[Want more Heat news sent directly to your Facebook feed? Make sure to like our Heat Facebook page]










Heat’s Goran Dragic voted Most Influential person in Slovenia, ahead of Melania Trump

Goran Dragic and the Slovenian national team celebrate their EuroBasket title last summer.

MIAMI – Goran Dragic’s popularity in Slovenia continues to soar since leading his country to an improbable run through the EuroBasket Championships last summer.

This week Dragic topped the list of the 100 Most Influential Slovenians of 2017, beating out, among others, first lady Melania Trump and the Slovenian president.

Basketball player Luca Doncic, the second-best player on the national team’s run to the title and a projected top-five pick in this year’s NBA draft, was second to Dragic on the list.

Melania Trump, who was born in Slovenia, was seventh and President Borut Pahor was the highest ranked politician at No. 8.

Dragic, the Heat’s All-Star point guard, led Slovenia to its first EuroBasket championship in August and was the tournament’s MVP. Slovenia’s victory was a stunning upset as Dragic averaged 22.6 points, 4.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists while Slovenia finished 9-0 in the tournament.

Dragic was honored in his homeland after the tournament, even receiving write-in votes in the country’s presidential election although he has said he has no interest in a future career in politics.

With the Heat being eliminated from the NBA playoffs by Philadelphia on Tuesday, Dragic will return home in about three weeks and spend most of his summer in his hometown of Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, a country of just more then 2 million people. He was home for two days following the gold medal game last August before coming to Miami to prepare for the start of training camp. He has not been back since.

Dragic, who turns 32 May 6, retired from his national team and has no plans to play Internationally this summer.

Dragic led the Heat in scoring during the regular season and playoffs this past season and was named to the All-Star team for the first time in his 10-year career.

[Erik Spoelstra bracing for possibility Miami Heat may have to improve internally]

[Dion Waiters progress report: Erik Spoelstra expects a much healthier, better player than we saw this season]

[Udonis Haslem, Dwyane Wade would like to finish their careers together, ‘but things don’t always work out like that’]

[Erik Spoelstra calls narrative, story lines on Hassan Whiteside ‘unfair’]

[Want more Heat news sent directly to your Facebook feed? Make sure to like our Heat Facebook page]



Everything Heat coach Erik Spoelstra had to say on exit interview day: ‘We see progress, we see growth. Expectations do not scare us’

Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra directs his team in the first quarter of play against the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 4 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Saturday, April 21, 2018, in Miami. (AP Photo/Joe Skipper)

MIAMI — After Heat players and coaches met for the final time as a group Friday, head coach Erik Spoelstra spoke to the media before heading into the offseason. Here’s what Spoelstra had to say … Continue reading “Everything Heat coach Erik Spoelstra had to say on exit interview day: ‘We see progress, we see growth. Expectations do not scare us’”

The achievers and the underachievers for the Heat in their series with the 76ers

Miami Heat’s Justise Winslow, drives up the court against Philadelphia 76ers’ Robert Covington during the first half of Tuesday’s Game 5 in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

The Miami Heat’s stay in the 2018 playoffs was brief. The Heat were bounced from the postseason by the upstart Philadelphia 76ers in five games in a series that was both one-sided and competitive, depending on which half you are referencing.

While the Heat either led or were tied at halftime of all five games, the Sixers outscored them by an average of 15.6 points in the second half of the five games.

Not the recipe to win in the postseason.

The Heat, like every team, can look back and point to some things that worked and some that didn’t.

So, we bring you the achievers and the underachievers for the Heat in this series.


    Justise Winslow: Winslow has been a maligned player throughout his career in Miami, many wanting for more from a No. 10 overall pick in the 2015 draft. He was trending in the right direction the last couple of months of the season and continued that direction in this series.

Winslow averaged 9.8 points and 6.6 rebounds. He didn’t shoot well (.357) but he left an imprint on every game, especially the Heat’s Game 2 win when his defense overshadowed in 2-point performance. And just as importantly he played with confidence and aggressiveness, showing an ability to knock down the 3-pointer, though not settling for the outside shot, and attacking the rim. That said, are the Heat now more apt to trade the 6-foot-7 forward or do they view him as a more important piece to their future?

Dwyane Wade: This goes without saying. Some believe this was Wade’s swan song after 15 seasons but that is something we will not know for months. What we do know is Wade proved he still can play and could be an important piece both on the court and as a locker room leader if he decides to return for a 16th season.

Wade’s value to this team since returning Feb. 8 was huge. He became the centerpiece to a solid bench and made the most of his limited minutes, especially in crunch time. He had two vintage performances in the series – 28 points in Game 2 and 25 points in Game 4 – and finished as the Heat’s second leading scorer behind Goran Dragic, averaging 16.6 points while chipping in with 4.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists.

Others who had their moments: Dragic led the Heat with 18.6 points and added 4.6 assists per game. And while his scoring was important for a team that at times found it difficult to score, the Sixers shut him down the fourth quarter of the entire series, limiting him to just 10 points in the five fourth quarters combined.

James Johnson was active, aggressive and he relied on his versatile skills give the Heat some offense. Johnson averaged 12.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.8 assists, while shooting 54.8 percent. The biggest disappointment was his defense, allowing Ben Simmons to shoot 58.3 percent against him.


    Hassan Whiteside: You can’t start the list of players who were non-factors in this series with anybody other than the Heat’s embattled 7-foot center. Whiteside averaged 5.2 points and 6.0 rebounds while logging just 15.4 minutes per game. And while some would blame coach Erik Spoelstra for giving up on Whiteside, the truth is throughout much of the season Whiteside never gave Spoelstra any reason to trust him. Twice in this series, including the Sixers’ Game 5 clincher on Tuesday, Whiteside came out early in the second half and never returned.

Now the Heat have a serious issue moving forward. Their highest paid player – Whiteside is due $52.5 million the next two years, the final two of the $98 million deal he signed two summers ago – is unhappy and is not shy about venting his frustration through the media – he was fined once by the organization this season for doing so – but his value on the trade market is at an all-time low.

Wayne Ellington: The Heat’s long-distance threat had a terrific season setting the franchise record for 3-pointers in a season (227) and the NBA mark for the most threes while playing as a reserve (218).

But Ellington never could get on a roll in the playoffs and although he shot 40 percent on threes he really was a non-factor. Ellington made 12 threes in the series, but just one coming in the fourth quarters, which the Sixers controlled the entire series. Wade said before Game 5 his biggest disappointment as the leader of the second team was never being able to get Ellington on a roll in the series.

Team defense: The Heat lean on their defense as the centerpiece of their culture. But that defense certainly let them down in this series. Miami’s surrendered 114.2 points per game and had a defensive rating of 109.6 in the five games compared to giving up 102.9 points with a rating of 104.0 during the regular season.

The Heat allowed the two highest scoring games in their playoff history, 130 in the opener and 125 in Game 3, while Philadelphia converted 18 3-pointers in each game. And the Sixers blitzed Miami for 74 points in the second half of that Game 1 blowout. Philadelphia had four players shoot at least 50 percent in the series.

Other disappointments: Tyler Johnson played hurt after injuring his thumb early in Game 3 but Miami needed more than six points per game from their starting shooting guard, especially with Whiteside struggling. Whiteside, Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson combined to give Miami fewer than 20 points per game.

The Sixers led the league in rebounding during the regular season but the Heat were pounded on the boards the entire series. Philadelphia had a 250-205 rebounding edge for the series, including 18 more offensive rebounds. That advantage led to the Sixers totaling 81 second chance points.

[Heat’s Dwyane Wade a finalist for NBA Cares Community Assist Award; voting open to fans]

[How does Pat Riley fix this Miami Heat roster?]

[Five takeaways: Heat season ends as Sixers close out first-round series in five games]

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Why did the Heat’s season end in the first round of the playoffs? A look at the reasons

Ben Simmons #25 of the Philadelphia 76ers fights through Kelly Olynyk #9 and James Johnson #16 of the Miami Heat at Wells Fargo Center on April 24, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

Miami’s playoff run didn’t last long.

The Heat enter the offseason after being eliminated in five games in the first round by the Sixers. Philadelphia earned the series-clinching win Tuesday.

Here’s why the Sixers ended the Heat’s season … Continue reading “Why did the Heat’s season end in the first round of the playoffs? A look at the reasons”

2018 NBA playoffs: Heat’s Tyler Johnson struggles through thumb injury

Tyler Johnson’s had a tough series. (Getty Images)

PHILADELPHIA — There is zero chance of Heat guard Tyler Johnson missing tonight’s Game 5 against the 76ers.

“He’s ready to go,” coach Erik Spoelstra said at shootaround. “He would probably punch me in the face if I said anything otherwise.”

Johnson has been gutting out an injured thumb on his shooting hand since Philadelphia center Joel Embiid knocked him to the floor on a screen in Game 3. He’s been practicing and playing with tape holding it in place, and it’s definitely hampered him.

He feels it every time he handles the ball, even in something as mundane as dribbling, and it’s made an already tough series even more frustrating for him. Johnson, who spends every bit of energy he has trying to defend 76ers guard J.J. Redick as he runs around screens all night, has averaged six points and shot 7 of 15.

In Game 4, a loss that put the Heat down 3-1 and has them facing elimination tonight at Wells Fargo Center, he went 0 for 1 and had two fouls in just 13 minutes of action.

Those aren’t viable numbers for a starting shooting guard, and they’re a big dropoff from what Johnson did in the regular season while averaging 11.7 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. Spoelstra spoke with him over the last few days about how get rolling again, but that’s going to be a challenge.

“I want to be as involved as I can, but it’s because I know I can help,” he said. “It’s not because I feel like I need X amount of shots. It’s coming from a place of I feel like I can contribute to the team. We were talking about it and trying to figure out ways in which I can be effective, not just for myself but for the team.”

Johnson has been a factor defensively, but not enough to get him on the floor when the game’s on the line. Spoelstra has not played him in the fourth quarter the last three games.

[In a series that Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid have thrived, Heat pleased with progress from their own young duo]

[Heat must finish vs. Sixers, or season will be finished]

[Was Heat’s Game 4 loss Dwyane Wade’s final game in Miami? Wade: ‘I don’t want to answer that right now’]

[Want more Heat news sent directly to your Facebook feed? Make sure to like our Heat Facebook page]

Heat know odds are stacked against them down 3-1 in series, but also know what they must do better to force Game 6

From left, the Miami Heat’s Josh Richardson, Goran Dragic and Dwyane Wade react as the Philadelphia 76ers lead in the fourth quarter in Game 4 of the first-round NBA Playoff series at the AmericaneAirlines Arena in Miami on Saturday, April 21, 2018. The Sixers won, 106-102, for a 3-1 series lead. (Pedro Portal/El Nuevo Herald/TNS)

MIAMI — Only 11 teams in NBA history have overcome a 3-1 deficit to win a playoff series.

This is the position the Heat find themselves in entering Tuesday’s Game 5 in Philadelphia. The Sixers lead the first-round series 3-1 after winning Games 3 and 4 in Miami. Continue reading “Heat know odds are stacked against them down 3-1 in series, but also know what they must do better to force Game 6”