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LeBron, Wade ready for physical Celtics response

By Ira Winderman, Sun Sentinel –

MIAMI — Now comes the inevitable pushback from the team that is behind. It is practically a playoff formality.

So a day after Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo said, “they’ve got to hit the deck, too,” the Miami Heat treated the comment as routine postseason fodder.

“I mean,” forward LeBron James said, “I don’t really prepare for something I already think that’s going to happen every game, so I don’t have to prepare for it.”

Rondo’s comment came after the Celtics fell 93-79 in Monday night’s Game 1 of this best-of-7 Eastern Conference finals series, with Game 2 at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.

“We’re men, just like they’re men. We’re not going let nobody come in and punk us,” guard Dwyane Wade said. “But that’s not our mentality, to go out there and make people hit the deck.”

With Rondo somewhat backtracked Wednesday, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra declined to be drawn into the conversation.

“That’s all part of the playoffs,” he said of the rhetoric. “Nope, we’re not even going to get into it. It’s about the game. And we understand that. There will be a lot of different distractions and noise out there.”

But he also said it isn’t as if the Heat would back down.

“We think we’re a physical team,” he said. “They’re a physical team. It still will be about the game and who plays the game better, who plays to their identity better. Our strengths and things that we emphasize won’t change from Game 1 to Game 2.”

For the Heat, this is nothing new, with the New York Knicks in the first round and the Indiana Pacers in the second round trying to take advantage of a somewhat undersized opponent, particularly with the Heat now without sidelined power forward Chris Bosh.

“That’s something we’re used to,” Wade said. “One thing about us, we feel we can play any way, many styles. Physical game? It’s the playoffs. It’s fine either way.”

Whether it turns as physical as the Pacers’ series is another issue, with a pair of Game 5 incidents in that round leaving Heat power forward Udonis Haslem and Heat center Dexter Pittman suspended.

Pittman, who received a three-game sanction for his hard flagrant foul on Lance Stephenson, will sit out the final game of his suspension Wednesday.

Haslem returned Monday from his one-game suspension for a flagrant foul against Indiana’s Tyler Hansbrough, aware of the potential need to again play as bodyguard for the Heat’s perimeter stars.

“That’s just basketball,” he said of talk of physical play and actual confrontational moments. “Basketball is a physical sport. In order to compete, rebounding, boxing out, taking charges, all those things are part of the game, are parts of the physical part of it.”

James said it is not as if Rondo had to issue any sort of warning shot.

“I expect physical play,” he said. “I expect to be quote, unquote put on the deck, whatever the case may be.”

And then?

“You just go to the free-throw line, go up there and make ‘em,” he said. “That’s what it’s about.”

Of course, remaining ambulatory also would be helpful.

“Obviously,” Wade said, “you have to protect yourself.”

LeBron ignores K.G.

James said he had no response to Kevin Garnett’s postgame talk of the Heat showboating late in Monday’s victory. “I think we all know how K.G. is. He means no harm,” he said of the Celtics’ center. … Even though the Heat shot 5 of 25 on 3-pointers in Game 1, James said the threat of more zone from the Celtics in Game 2 is not an overwhelming concern. “We had some great looks,” he said. “We expect to see it and we’ll be ready for it.” …

Spoelstra said Bosh was scheduled for another court session Tuesday, but nothing extensive from a basketball standpoint, still listed as out indefinitely with a lower-abdominal strain. “It’s more rehab-related than basketball-related,” he said. “He just happened to be doing it on the court.” . . . Asked Tuesday where he would put himself at the moment, oft-injured Heat forward Mike Miller replied simply, “I’m standing.”

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