As always, Erik Spoelstra wants Miami to play faster

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Last season, in the run up to the season, Erik Spoelstra tried to make the Heat’s identity a team that used pressure defense and fast break attacks to overwhelm opponents. And at the start of the season they did that.

But as the season wore on the Heat’s pace dropped back to about the league average (a little below, actually, they finished 19th in the league). In part that was due to injuries, in part due to teams adjusting to what the Heat tried to do. The Heat did play faster than the year before, but not fast all the time (only in spurts).

So guess what Spoelstra’s mantra is again going into this season? From Ira Winderman at the Sun Sentinel.

Talking to WQAM on Tuesday, Spoelstra shed some light on his game plan for next season.

“I hope to play faster,” Spoelstra said. “We turned it up a gear last year and I think we have the personnel to hopefully go even faster. I think with a normal training camp and a normal season we can build up that habit even more.”

I can find you 29 other NBA head coaches who are vowing to play faster this year, too. It must be part of the “Off-Season Cliche Handbook” the NBA passes out to coaches.

Obviously, part of this is how healthy Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are when they return next season. Wade has said he will be playing his way into trusting his knee, which means he could be a step slower to start.

It seems like the Heat might if they do play more small ball with Chris Bosh at the five. But one of the more knowledgeable Heat guys out there, Couper Moorhead, suggested Bosh may not start at the five next year. He likely finishes games there, but not always start. And if the Heat are saving the small lineup, we’ll see how fast they really play.

But, we know what Spoelstra wants.

PBT Extra: Disciplined Celtics highlight bad habits of Milwaukee Bucks

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Giannis Antetokounmpo has been every bit the top five NBA player in the postseason — 32.5 points per game on 63.2 percent shooting, plus with 11 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game.

Yet the Bucks are down 0-2 to Boston.

The Celtics have had a strong series from Al Horford and Terry Rozier, but the real difference is in the discipline this team has shown all season — Boston knows who it is. Clearly, Milwaukee does not. They turn the ball over too much and make too many mistakes.

I get into all of that in this PBT Extra, and I wonder if that’s something the Bucks can really turn around mid-playoffs.

Ettore Messina to coach Spurs in Game 3 following death of Gregg Popovich’s wife

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s wife, Erin, died yesterday.

That sad news was felt throughout the NBA, and it obviously affects San Antonio most closely. That includes for tonight’s Game 3 against the Warriors.

Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:

Ettore Messina was a longtime head coach in Europe. The Spurs lead assistant also took over for a few regular-season games Popovich missed. So, making – rather than advising – coaching decisions won’t be a brand new challenge to Messina.

But down 2-0 to defending-champion Golden State is a tough place to make an NBA playoff debut.

On the bright side, there will be no pressure. Not only has San Antonio been outclassed the first two games of the series, focus is rightly on the Popovich family. A win would be a pleasant surprise and help Messina – who’s up for the Hornets job – in his pursuit of a head-coaching position. A loss would be quickly forgotten with more important matters at hand.

To that end, hopefully the time away allows Popovich the space he needs to grieve. That matters far more than a basketball game.

Report: Knicks to interview Kenny Smith for head-coaching job

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The Knicks are casting a wide net in their coaching search.

It’ll apparently include a familiar, though surprising, name.

ESPN:

TNT analyst Kenny Smith will interview for the New York Knicks’ head-coaching job on Friday, a source told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.

A quality organization, the Rockets, interviewed Smith (in 2016, before hiring Mike D’Antoni). So, this isn’t proof of the Knicks’ oddball thinking. (There are plenty of better examples, if you wish).

Steve Kerr opened the door for former players to go straight from TV to being an NBA head coach without having any coaching experience. He’s been a smash hit with the Warriors.

But Kerr was also the Suns’ general manager before Golden State hired him. Smith has no front-office experience.

So, it’s tough to judge Smith, whose role on television is more to entertain than inform (though he does both). He’ll have to really wow in his interview to get the job.

But at least he has that opportunity.

Pacers coach Nate McMillan slips and falls while arguing call (video)

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Nate McMillan slipped up in his handling of Victor Oladipo‘s early fouls during the Pacers’ Game 2 loss to the Cavaliers last night.

Then, the Indiana coach literally slipped while arguing that LeBron James should have been called for offensively fouling Lance Stephenson.