Although James and Wade are more likely to run the offense late in games, they have been pressed into more ball-handling duties earlier than usual in this series because of the struggles at the point. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra hasn't hesitated throughout the playoffs to tweak his rotation and starting lineups. But he suggested Tuesday that the plan involves remaining committed to Chalmers and Cole for now.
"It's a big-time possession series both ways, so you have to be able to take care of the basketball," Spoelstra said of Miami's playoff-high 20 turnovers. "You have to hopefully force the other team into mistakes. [San Antonio] won that battle clearly tonight. As far as point guard play, we'll stick with those guys, and clearly, they're important to us."
James said he doesn't expect Chalmers and Cole to match the production of Parker and Mills, but he does want the Heat's point guards to compete and provide energy on the defensive end of the court. James has taken on the assignment of defending Parker during critical stages of the fourth quarter the past two games when the Heat switch to a bigger lineup with Wade and Ray Allen on the perimeter. But the Heat would prefer not to have to use that group for extended stretches throughout the game.
"We want them to run the offense and we want them to defend," James said of the Heat's point guards. "When they get open looks, we want them to take [shots] with confidence. When they have an opportunity, we want them to be aggressive. You can control how you defend. You can control how much energy you bring to the game. If our two point guards do that, we can be OK with that."
James said he's confident that Chalmers and Cole will soon come around.
"I know our two point guards; they're very passionate," James continued. "They've got a lot of pride. And I know they're looking forward to learning from what they did and try to be better in Game 4."
Wade believes Chalmers' issues are more psychological than anything tactical on the court.
"Mario is a big piece of what we do, and we're missing that piece right now, for whatever the reason is," Wade said. "We're going to continue to give him confidence. He's our guy. We're not going to leave him out on an island at all. So we're going to continue to pull for him. He can bounce back from it."
The Heat are confident they'll collectively respond as well from their first home loss of the playoffs. The Spurs snapped Miami's 10-game home postseason winning streak that started with their win against the Heat in Game 1 of the 2013 Finals. The Heat recovered to win that series in seven games.
Miami also has won 13 straight games coming off a postseason loss. That track record suggests the Heat won't allow the problems that cropped up Tuesday to linger for long.
"We have to take this one on the chin," center Chris Bosh said. "We're kidding ourselves if we think we're going to win a championship with that kind of effort, home or away. Everything was bad."