The Miami Heat are one game away from elimination in the NBA Finals, but they remain as confident as ever about their chances to get back into the series against the Los Angeles Lakers and climb out of a 3-1 series hole in Game 5 on Friday night.
"We think it's a really competitive series," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Thursday. "We have a purpose of why we're here. We're competing for a title and it's the first team to four wins. There's a lot of different narratives out there -- we don't give a s--- what everybody else thinks. This is everything that we wanted this year, an opportunity to fight for, compete for a title. And that hasn't changed at all through these first games."
The Heat's confidence doesn't appear to be rattled, because they believe in the mental toughness the group has built together throughout the season -- especially over the past few months in the NBA's bubble. All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler reiterated what he said after Game 4 -- that the group still believes in itself despite injuries and adversity throughout the series.
"I don't think it's pressure," Butler said. "I think it's just win. Ain't nobody thinking about going home over here. It's just win, so there is no pressure. We're expected to win. That's our job. It's not win or go home, it's win or win. That's how we think about it."
Center Bam Adebayo will be on the floor again in Game 5 as he continues to deal with neck and shoulder injuries that have bothered him over the last couple weeks. Adebayo, who missed Games 2 and 3 after suffering a neck strain in Game 1, admitted he was hesitant at the beginning of Game 4 once he got back on the floor, but he is hopeful a few days of rest can get him back on track.
"Our backs are against the wall," Adebayo said. "We know that. It's three up, three down. That's our motto. We've got to stick to that. We've got to believe in that. It's not like it hasn't been done before. It would be great to be another team to do that."
As for injured guard Goran Dragic, the outlook is not as optimistic. Dragic has not played since suffering a plantar tear in his left foot. Spoelstra said Thursday that Dragic's status has not changed and he is still doubtful for Game 5. The Heat are well aware that many around the league believe the series is over given the injuries and the odds against a team coming back from a 3-1 deficit, but they are still holding out hope that their group can find a way starting on Friday.
"We've got a chance," Adebayo said. "We still believe. They're writing us off. Everybody is doubting us. But as long as the people in the locker room and all our coaching staff have belief in us, that's all that matters."