Tag:Erik Spoelstra
Posted on: April 12, 2011 2:44 pm
Edited on: April 12, 2011 4:15 pm

Road to the Finals: Miami Heat

Posted by Royce Young

After LeBron James spoke those now famous seven words in July, most felt like the Miami Heat's road to the NBA Finals would be a cruise. The road to the finals would be a red carpet lined with a few minor obstacles like the Celtics, Bulls and Magic.

There was a rap song crowning them champs. Everyone was picking them, some even wondering about the 72-win barrier. Even the organization was celebrating in July. It was almost as if we didn't even need to play the NBA season.

Then the Heat started 9-8.

It was panic at the beach. What was wrong? Why aren't these guys great? Already they have eight losses just 17 games in -- how are they going to just lose two more and win 72?

There were obvious issues from the opening tip of the season for the Heat. LeBron and Dwyane Wade had a lot of trouble figuring out how to co-exist on the floor together as dominant ball-handlers. Early on, each did their best work when they other went to the bench. Figuring out how to actually play together was a major challenge.

Then the Heat had to figure out how to work in Chris Bosh. He settled in as mainly a pick-and-pop option, available for a kickout jumper if Wade or LeBron's drive was shut down.

Still though, there were problems. Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller were hurt and the rest of Miami's role players were adding very little. It was almost turning into a bit of a mess. Erik Spoelstra had his work cut out for him.

Road To The Finals

After the eighth loss, a pretty good whipping in Dallas, the team held a players only meeting that last almost an hour. It was a good sign -- they were committed to figuring this out. They weren't going to just assume that their overwhelming talent alone would win games. They knew they had to work.

A good thing happened next. The Heat's schedule got easy. And they won 21 of 22. They shut people up for a little while. Of course that is, until a stretch in late February and early March where they lost five straight, cried in the locker room and prompted about 200,000 columns about them.

They couldn't close. They couldn't play in crunch time. They couldn't execute. On and on and on.

It was an interesting two weeks though. The Heat had struggled a lot against teams with winning records and especially against top level teams. And here they were playing 11 straight playoff teams. When they started 0-5, most saw it as a sign that they weren't ready. But there were still six games left, meaning they had six chances to turn things around.

It started with a big win over the Lakers. Then they blew out the Spurs. The Thunder took the Heat down, but Miami then beat the Hawks and Nuggets. They ended up 5-6 in that stretch with a couple very close losses and came out smelling relatively clean. They survived and managed to shut some of us up in the meantime.

After the loss to the Thunder, Miami is 11-2 with a horrible loss in Cleveland that LeBron will never live down and a weird loss in Milwaukee. Since the five-game losing streak where everyone wanted to preemptively write off the Heat entirely in early March, Miami is 14-3 with five wins over playoff teams, including a beatdown of the Celtics last week.

Are the Heat really, truly contenders this season? Absolutely. Here's the thing: They have LeBron Freaking James and Dwyane Freaking Wade on their team (note: Freaking may not actually be their middle names). Those guys are good. We're all curious to see how they handle a seven-game series. How will they handle games against ONLY good teams? No more Wizards or Pistons to beat up on anymore.

It's been a weird season because we've all gone through about 70 stages with the Heat. First, they were crowned. Then in November, they were written off. Then they were crowned against after winning 21 of 22. Then we wrote them off following CryGate. Now people are coming back around.

Miami has what it takes to win. The Heat defend. They are fifth in defensive efficiency and are actually third in offensive efficiency. They are tied with the Bulls for the largest point differential this season (7.3). All signs point to them as a dominant team.

So what are they? Are they actually good? Can they win the title? I say yes, but with some caution. As the two-seed in the East, they get the 76ers to open, a team they match up well against. After that, it's most likely the Celtics, a team they've struggled with but that was the pre-Perk trade Celtics. Boston doesn't look quite so invincible to them anymore, especially after last week's confidence boost.

What's a little scary is that you know someone will have to step up in the postseason if the Heat are going to push toward The Finals. Someone like James Jones will have to hit a big 3. Someone like Mario Chalmers will have to handle the ball in big spots. Someone like Erick Dampier will have to shut down his man late. Can they rely on those guys to get it done? Spoelstra always talks about trust. Well, they're going to really have to trust some guys that aren't exactly trustworthy.

The Heat would have to put all their chemistry issues behind them in order to even advance past Boston, but if they were to beat Chicago in the Eastern Finals, they'd have to play pretty much perfect. But they're capable of that because, you know, they have LeBron and Wade. No matter what, the Heat are dangerous. They can win now. It's going to have to come in a role they didn't expect back in July though -- underdog.
Posted on: April 7, 2011 3:50 pm
Edited on: April 7, 2011 3:50 pm

Heat G Dwyane Wade 'optimistic' for Friday

Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade says he's "optimistic" that he will be able to play on Friday. Posted by Ben Golliver. dwyane-wade

For the better part of a week now, Miami Heat All-Star guard Dwyane Wade has been dealing with a painful thigh contusion, an injury that wound up keeping him out of a Wednesday night loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. That loss was critical because it dropped the Heat a 1/2 game behind the Boston Celtics for the Eastern Conference's No. 2 seed.

The Heat and Celtics are set to play on Sunday and Wade's presence in that game would be crucial. On Thursday, Wade finally had some good news for Heat fans, telling the Sun-Sentinel that he was "optimistic" he would be able to suit up in Miami's next game, a Friday date with the Charlotte Bobcats.
"I'm optimistic about hopefully I can play," he said after sitting out Thursday's practice, but working both before and after the session. He added with a smile, "Hopefully not 40 minutes, but hopefully I can play 39, possibly."
Wade also noted that sitting down on Wednesday was the correct decision. 
"Of course you feel you can make a difference," he said. "No, I shouldn't have played. Of course sometimes you feel like your presence can help, but I would have been a liability on the (defensive) end of the floor. It's about getting healthy."
The Bobcats have lost four straight, so even a limited Wade should theoretically be enough to push the Heat over the top. A best-case scenario would have Wade using Friday as a tune-up for Sunday. But playing on Friday is still a somewhat risky proposition, as taking another hit to his thigh on Friday could have playoff implications with the end of the regular season coming during the middle of next week. 

For that reason, expect Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and president Pat Riley to consider the matter thoroughly regardless of whether or not Wade thinks his body is ready to go.
Posted on: April 5, 2011 12:06 pm
Edited on: April 5, 2011 12:09 pm

Wade (thigh) sits out practice, could miss time

Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade sat out practice on Tuesday and is day-to-day with a thigh injury. Posted by Ben Golliver. dwyane-wade

On Monday, we noted that Miami Heat All-Star guard Dwyane Wade is dealing with a "right lateral thigh contusion" that he said was a 9.7 on a 1-10 pain scale. Ouch.

Tuesday's practice update offered little in the way of comfort for Heat fans. The Sun-Sentinel reports that the injury kept Wade from practice and the Heat Index reports that "Wade says he doesn't know if he'll play Wednesday. He's taking it day-to-day."

The Heat have just five games over the next nine days left on their regular season schedule. Usually the temptation this time of year is to shut down a player of Wade's stature to ensure that he's 110% healthy when the playoffs begin later this month.

Indeed, LeBron James casts his vote for caution, telling the Sun-Sentinel he favors shutting down Wade if that's what's needed.
"He knows at this point he doesn't have to push it," James said. "We need him more later than we do now."
James said if that means Wade missing time this week, so be it.
"Absolutely, if that's what it takes," he said. "D-Wade needs to be as close to 100 percent as possible. Of course he can't be 100, no one is 100 right now.
The good news for Miami is that three of their remaining five games are against lottery-bound teams. Indeed, Wednesday night's game against the Milwaukee Bucks and Friday night's game against the Charlotte Bobcats are both extremely winnable, even if Wade sits out. 

Unfortunately for Wade, the Heat are in a tight race for the Eastern Conference's No. 2 seed with their nemesis, the Boston Celtics. As of Tuesday, Miami is just a 1/2 game ahead of Boston. To make matters worse, the Heat face the Celtics in a critical swing game on Sunday. That makes it extremely difficult for Heat president Pat Riley or Heat coach Erik Spoelstra to craft a shut down plan if something as important as homecourt advantage in the second round of the playoffs against Boston remains on the line. Hence, the "day-to-day" talk. 
Posted on: March 30, 2011 12:15 am

Cavs beat Heat post-game comment decoder

There's what they said after Cleveland beat Miami Tuesday night, and then there's what they really said. Post-game comments deciphered. 

Posted by Matt Moore

Dan Gilbert

What he said: "NOT IN OUR GARAGE!" (On Twitter.)


Eric Spoelstra

What he said: "We got what we deserved." 

What he meant: "We got what LeBron deserved. Or what Bosh deserved. Or what I deserved for calling plays for Chris Bosh." 

What he said: "We really didn't have a great chance in this game because we didn't defend. Our identity is a little bit lost now."

What he meant: "We really didn't have a great chance because really, when Ryan Hollins is dunking on you, it might be time to pursue another line of work." 

Daniel Gibson

What he said: "First time we played these guys, we didn’t give fans what they deserved. Tonight was our way of saying thank you for hanging in there."

What he meant: "First time we played these guys, we got ran out of the building, but it was okay, because LeBron hugged me. Tonight was our way of saying thank you for hanging in there by having attendance drop while we lost the most consecutive games in NBA history. Oh, and after the game, LeBron hugged me!"

LeBron James

What he said: "The fans were unbelievable, I've always said that."

What he meant: "The fans were unbelievable, I've always said that. You know what's also unbelievable? Giving a max contract to a power forward that snagged four rebounds against the 25th best offensive rebounding team in the league. That's pretty unbelievable. It's also unbelievable that I want to give a speech about not getting the help I need against a team I left because I wasn't getting the help I need. I'd say it was ironic if I could stop the tears."

What he said: "We're playing for something bigger." 

What he meant: "We're playing to get knocked out in the second round by Boston. So pretty much the same thing I was playing for last year." 
Posted on: March 24, 2011 2:26 pm

Spoelstra would like to take back crying comment

Posted by Royce Young

Erik Spoelstra already said he didn't regret mentioning his players were crying in the locker room after a tough loss to the Bulls. He blamed the media for blowing it out of proportion and "sensationalizing" it.

Well, maybe now he kind of regrets it.

He told 790 The Ticket in Miami that looking back on "crygate," maybe he would have done things differently because of the way things turned out.
“I wouldn’t have said it [the players were crying after the Chicago Bulls lose]. I mean the players…we don’t have a problem with it because everybody has been in a situation where their words have been taken out of context. In a strange way we’ve all been through this together and everybody in something where they have tried to say something to the team that has been taken out of context and it strengthened us. I brought it up to the team the next day and there wasn’t any broken trust.

You know you’re in front of the media three times a day eventually something you’re going to say is probably not going to have the meaning you would have expected. I wouldn’t have said it if I had a do over just so I would eliminate one more distraction, but my point about it was the guys do care. I think it is great that we have some incredible, incredibly competitive, self-willed guys in this locker room, but this means a lot more to them, their profession.”
I really don't understand what Spoelstra is trying to say. He keeps going on about how the crying comment was taking out of context, but I really don't see how we all screwed that one up. "There are some guys crying in the locker room right now." I mean, how else could he have meant that? What am I missing here?

But smartly, he's now using it as motivation for his team. He's taking the "we made it through that TOGETHER!" approach, which is good. Spoelstra has worked very hard to create this weird culture in Miami where they preach together, trust, brotherhood, warriorness (not a word, I know) and team to a point where it's gotten a little odd. But team's look for anything to motivate and crygate certainly was something.

Spoelstra said he didn't apologize to his team about the comment, but did discuss it. And why should he apologize anyway? It was our fault for messing up his words, not his for saying it, remember?

Via Sports Radio Interviews
Category: NBA
Posted on: March 10, 2011 10:56 am
Edited on: March 10, 2011 11:52 am

No, seriously, Pat Riley isn't coaching the Heat

Pat Riley denies for the 100,000,000th time that he's considering taking over as head coach of the Heat for Erik Spoesltra. 
Posted by Matt Moore

This story won't die. The Heat could win seven championships in a row and the first losing streak they went through, everyone would run to Pat Riley and start bugging him about when he was going to take over coaching the Heat. Riley made this bed when he axed Stan Van Gundy, a great coach in his own right to take over the 2006 championship club. There's no getting past that with the media. We live for patterns and recurring stories. It's just the way the beast operates. But for his part, while the Heat are falling apart/melting/losing a number of regular season games against good teams in a row, Riley is being painfully clear that he has no intent of Brutus-ing Erik Spoelstra.

From the New Jersey Star-Ledger: 

Star-Ledger: Did you look online this morning? There was yet another headline about Erik Spoelstra’s job security. 
Riley: “Write it off. Write it off. It’s the media being neurotic. It’s their need to make a story, create a story, and make that story come true. And that ain’t going to happen. Write it off. We’re just in a tough time right now, we’ll get through it.”
via Big East Tournament: Miami Heat GM Pat Riley tries to avoid talking about team's issues | NJ.com.

Riley went on to say that the Heat need a legit big man but they wouldn't get it this year, which makes everyone stare awkwardly at Joel Anthony. At least Erick Dampier and Zydrunas Ilgauskas have the excuse of being oldser than dirt. 

Riley's not taking over this team. He's moved past the point of wanting to coach. And if it becomes dire enough for him to have to take the reins, he's not doing it with less than 20 games left in the season. It's too much upheaval, too much for him to try and get caught up on, too much for him to have to ramp up to in too short of time. The Heat are what they are, for better or worse. The sooner we can all accept that, the sooner we can move on to saying Larry Brown should be brought in to coach the Heat. Wait, what?

Category: NBA
Posted on: March 9, 2011 3:42 pm

Lakers serve as dynasty model for Heat

The Miami Heat should look to the Los Angeles Lakers for help in overcoming their struggles. Posted by Ben Golliver.


While it can easily be forgotten in the constant modernity of the Hollywood glitz and glamour, the Los Angeles Lakers are the NBA’s old guard of winning. They, along with the Boston Celtics, are the establishment; the Lakers had glitter on their fingers back when MPLS ran across their chest, decades before the Miami Heat franchise was even born.

So it was both laughable and a bit adorable when the Heat teamed up last summer and declared themselves the NBA’s next great dynasty, predicting nearly a decade’s worth of championship parades. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh gave off a Nouveau rich vibe, a bit too excited to prematurely declare their entrance into the class of legends. Everyone suspected the other shoe would drop for the Heat but perhaps we didn’t expect it to feel like a steel-toed boot to the face.

The line this week is that the Miami Heat “aren’t having any fun.” This misses the point, because to have fun is to be care-free, worry-free. The Heat have lived their struggles, they understand their strengths and feel their many weaknesses. With the playoffs looming, they have every reason to be worried. Forget about fun, they’d settle for some peace of mind.

If there’s a crucial difference between the Lakers and Heat these days – besides roster depth -- it’s a matter of being comfortable in their own skin. L.A.’s self-confidence and assuredness comes from having won championships, sure, but it also comes from having every important base covered. Devoted owner with deep pockets? Check. Intelligent, flexible management? Check. Experienced coach? Check. An all-world superstar? Check. Multiple premier big men? Check. A serviceable bench? Check.

There are no shortcuts around that checklist, especially in 2011 as the top-end talent gets more and more concentrated seemingly by the month. For the Heat, an honest self-assessment against that checklist finds no questions in ownership, management or the presence of a superstar. But as for the coach, big men and bench? Big time questions.

The good news: Solving two of those questions might be enough for Miami to win a title next season, as both the Celtics and Lakers are getting older and the San Antonio Spurs are unlikely to repeat their glorious season of injury-free luck. So which are the easiest to fix?

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has survived one round of calls for his job during the fall, but Miami’s recent losing streak has started another round. Making a move this soon before the playoffs isn’t going to accomplish much, and it isn’t going to give a successor enough time to meaningfully implement his own fixes. But there have been plenty of warning signs recently regarding whether Spoelstra is the right long-term fit.

During games, his stars call their own number repeatedly, looking to create in isolation rather than succeed within a system. His role players don’t often conduct themselves as role players either, quick on the trigger and slow to the boards or the extra defensive rotation. After Tuesday night’s loss, his players simultaneously tried not to step on his toes while also questioning their roles and the overall goals of the offense. Bosh, for example, seemed to request a wholesale change of his role, asking to head down to the block after he’s been used elsewhere all season long. Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson might snipe back and forth about how often Bryant breaks out of the triangle late in games, but you don’t ever hear Bryant questioning the logic behind the entire system. He knows it works; At some level, he trusts it. Bosh's comments are befitting of a lottery team with a lame duck coach, not a potential dynasty in the making with a revered signal caller on the bench.

As for Spoelstra’s own comments, he sounds a lot more like John Kuester or Kurt Rambis rather than Gregg Popovich or Jackson, struggling to find answers rather than clearly elucidating solutions. Being befuddled by your team’s effort every once in a while is understandable. Not having the track record of success to inspire confidence and to help lead a struggling team through adversity -- to not know the right thing to say no matter the situation -- is troubling. Why should the Heat settle for that?

Personnel-wise, Miami will need to take a long, hard look in the mirror this summer when it comes to their frontcourt. The patched-together frontline is going to remain an Achilles heel until it’s addressed in full; trying to repeat this season’s “Big 3 plus fill ins” model would be the definition of folly. The question becomes whether Bosh – diminished by a lack of touches and shots – is the right fit long-term or if his salary cap number might be better spent on players that are more complementary to James and Wade, defensive specialists or rebounding fanatics that will contribute without needing touches on offense.  Given the inflexibility of Miami’s cap situation, something will have to give if the Heat are serious about addressing their frontcourt. That something is almost certainly Bosh, who is the team’s most expensive weak link. Unless they can find someone to take Mike Miller off their hands -- unlikely -- they simply don't have the contracts to move out that will be required to bring quality in return.

Of the check boxes Miami needs to fill, depth is probably the least pressing concern. Really, depth is the cart and the team's star core is the horse: the Heat must make sure their star talent complements each other – the way Bryant, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum fit together almost seamlessly – before they worry about the end of the bench. Last summer, the Heat acknowledged that it would take some time to put together the quality, veteran pieces to fill things out. While uncertainty looms because the details of the league’s next Collective Bargaining Agreement are unknown, Miami, as a city and as a franchise, will always be a top destination for role players.

Putting this all together and taking the franchise-building long view, it’s important for the Heat – from the top down – to acknowledge that, while the talent level is comparable between Miami and Los Angeles on any given night, there are fundamental differences between wannabe and dynasty. Those differences, right now, boil down to coach, the construction of the "Big 3" itself and the team's ability to fill out its depth around that nucleus. That's a lot of questions.

Summer is going to hit hard for the Heat, who had dreamed of winning a title and ushering in a new era. For their sake, the Heat organization should hit back hard, addressing their biggest weaknesses by refusing to lock themselves into a path that hasn’t proven fruitful, instead looking to the Lakers model, which continues to chug along successfully all these decades later. There's no sense in being stubborn for stubborn's sake.

Posted on: March 9, 2011 1:09 am
Edited on: March 10, 2011 1:41 am

Game Changer: Heat lose 5th straight game

The Miami Heat lost to the Portland Trail Blazers, Erik Spoelstra looked even more overwhelmed than usual, LeBron James threw down a sick dunk and Brandon Roy had his best game of the spring. All that, plus plenty more. Posted by Ben Golliver.

Each game is made up of elements that help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the previous night's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what led to the results you'll see in the box scores. This is the Game Changer.  


Posted by Matt Moore.

The loss to the Knicks? A bizarre turn based on an offensive flourish from a team playing with emotion in its first week together. The loss to the Magic? A division rival with a furious comeback thanks to hot shooting and some system systemic offensive breakdowns on the other side. The loss to the Spurs? A back-to-back road blowout against the team with the best record in the league. The loss to the Bulls? A fiery, emotional team with a superior defensive effort, a magnificent superstar, and a blown rebound by the other guys. But the loss to the Blazers?
That was just the case of a superior team 1-10 beating the Heat. A superior team performance, a superior coaching performance, a superior star performance, a superior overall win for Portland, who have gone from looking at a rebuilding project to right in line for a serious playoff run. They are deep, they are talented, and they close games. Yeah, that's right. Portland with the five knee surgeries and missing Greg Oden and Brandon Roy unable to play full games and the aging point guard and having just acquired their All-Star? They are what the Heat tried to buy.

The game itself was a slow, methodical affair (84 estimated possessions, which is glacial), and favored the Blazers' deliberate style rather than the Heat's up and down attack. There were some exceptional highlights (see below for the Chalmers behind-the-back wizardry), but still a loss for the Heat. Isn't that the formula this year? Amazing highlights, lots of hype, national television appearance... and a loss.

The culprits were who you'd expect. While the Blazers were peeling Gerald Wallace of the bench for 22 points on 14 shots, 9 rebounds, an assist, a block, and two steals, the Heat were pulling the lifeless corpse of Mike Miller off the pine for two points on seven shots. But really, the Heat still could have won this game even with the loserly henchmen pulling a "Die Hard" (fire 2,000 rounds, don't hit anything) and James and Wade combining for 7 turnovers. That's how good James and Wade were. The real problem? Chris Bosh.

Forget the shooting. Some nights you're going to be off from mid-range. It happens, not much you can do to control that. Bosh says he needs more touches in the low-post. Forgetting the fact that this goes against every trend in his career and against the logic of having the kind of perimeter players the Heat have, it also ignores the fact that Bosh needs to try getting some easy buckets. The hard kind. I'm talking about tip-ins. Offensive rebounds and put-backs. Instead, Bosh had four total rebounds, and only one offensive. But hey, at least he played pretty good defense, right?
Or, you know, LaMarcus Aldridge had 26 points. This is where the line between Bosh's incompetence and Spoelstra's mistakes blur. In the second half when Aldridge started to go off after a slow first half, Bosh was showing way too strong on the pick and roll, jumping over to cover Andre Miller (you know, he of the ridiculous explosiveness), and allowing Aldridge all the room in the world to operate. Bosh gave himself nearly no chance at recovering.
Meanwhile, Brandon Roy was nailing the kinds of key shots Dwyane Wade is supposed to and the Heat were throwing away opportunity after opportunity. Great teams capitalize on chances they have to destroy their opponent. The Blazers did. The Heat did not.

At this point in the season, these two teams could not be headed in more opposite directions. Judging from how this game went down, it's not hard to see why.


The Miami Herald quoted Heat coach Erik Spoelstra after the game: "Frankly, we don’t have a lot of answers how to get over this hump. We can just keep grinding and not let go of the rope."

 This picture says about 1,000,000 words.



Andrew Bynum: 16 points, 16 rebounds, three assists, three blocks, +17 on 8 of 10 shooting in 35 minutes in a Los Angeles Lakers road win over the Atlanta Hawks.

Gerald Wallace:  22 points, nine rebounds, one assist, two steals, one block, +7 on 8 of 14 shooting in 35 minutes in a Portland Trail Blazers road win over the Miami Heat.

Dwyane Wade:  38 points, six rebounds, five assists, one steal, two blocks on 12 of 21 shooting in 43 minutes in a Miami Heat home loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

LeBron James:  31 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists, one steal on 14 of 17 shooting in a Miami Heat home loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.



The Heat lost to the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday, but LeBron James threw down a sick tomahawk dunk off of a behind-the-back pass in transition. Small consolation.


Houston Rockets forward Chase Budinger makes a silly face as he dunks one home during a loss to the Phoenix Suns.



Against the Heat, Blazers guard Brandon Roy had his most effective game since his post All-Star break return from arthroscopic knee surgeries. Roy hit all three of his three-pointers en route to 14 points on eight shots in 23 minutes. Often hiding out on the weakside, he is theoretically the ideal spot up shooter to space the floor off of power forward LaMarcus Aldridge. Nate McMillan smartly managed Roy's minutes, sitting him for nearly the entire third quarter so that he would be fresh to close the game. The Blazers went small down the stretch and outscored the Heat 12-5 in the final 3:25 of the fourth quarter, including a huge Roy three-pointer. 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com