Obviously, it wasn't just another day at the office for Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra at the AmericanAirlines Arena. Faced with a rare Game 7 in an NBA Finals series, he admitted after this morning's shootaround that today was, in his words, strange.
"This is the only time that it's ever happened where I know this is the last day of the season," he said with a smile.
Whether that ends with joy or heartache, the Heat prepared today just like any other game and so did the young coach. But Spoelstra revealed that Pat Riley had spoken to him a few days ago about a similar scenario that the coaching legend had to face many years ago.
"Pat's been tremendous. He's not telling stories to us right now, he's done enough of that through the course of the year. But Pat and I always talk, we talked a few days ago about (Los Angeles) Lakers and Detroit (Pistons) Game 7 that they had to win where they were down 3-2 and came back to win both games at home. That historic Game 6 where Isaiah (Thomas) had 25 in the third quarter, Lakers had to storm back from behind. I love hearing those kinds of stories."
But this is the third straight NBA Finals appearance for the core of this team and they have faced Game 7s in their three years together. Through the doubts, criticism and second-guessing from media, fans and just about everyone else since the Big 3 came together, the Heat have learned plenty of lessons along the way of staying true to themselves - even for such an important game like tonight's.
"The world that we've lived in has helped prepared us for that more than anything else," he remarked when asked about this Game 7 against the pesky San Antonio Spurs. "From the first time we came together and it was about everything else and we had to learn how to compartmentalize and stay in the moment. That's helped us build some discipline in the mind. Because that's the thing, you can't focus on the victory, you can't focus on the reward. The only thing you can focus on is the task and so for this morning all it was the shootaround, prep - there's nothing more, there's no special words or speeches I gave them. The most important thing they can do now for the next 8-10 hours is to get off their feet."
For his part, Heat big man Chris Bosh is focused with the task at hand but is well aware that tonight is the last game, with no more games left and really nothing left to do tomorrow.
"Yeah. so we might as well just leave everything out there tonight. We're excited to play this game at home. If you told me at the beginning of the season you have one game at home to win a championship, I don't care who it's against I'm going to take that. We just have to come out here and play our best basketball."
Winning tonight would truly be the start of a Heat legacy with multiple championships but Bosh is preferring to stay in the moment and not worry about all of that right now.
"We're not thinking about the grand scheme of things. We're thinking about Game 7 tonight. We're excited to play, we know we're going to give our best effort tonight and we can talk all we want but our playing is what's going to do the talking. So all this legacy stuff, we live all that to the barbershop talkers and the sports critics and let everybody sum it up and we just come out there to play basketball."