Tag: Erik Spoelstra

Miami Heat v Los Angeles Lakers

Dwyane Wade says Lakers slow start reminds him of Heat


Do you remember the 9-8 Miami Heat? The ones off to a slow start after putting together a superstar team (then the players doing their part to hype the expectations at a pep rally)? The ones that had national pundits calling for Erik Spoelstra to be sent packing so that legendary coach Pat Riley could come down from on high and solve all their problems, to whip the team into shape?

That feels like another lifetime in Miami, where the defending World Champions play.

Dwyane Wade told Fran Blinebury of NBA.com he thought people might have learned about expectations from that experience, but apparently not.

“There’s excitement, of course,” he said. “And there’s a lot of anticipation about what can be possible. But really, a lot of things tend to get ahead of themselves. I guess, when you think about it, those things are only natural. Now looking back, you see how unrealistic a lot of things are in the early days. But I guess it doesn’t stop everybody from doing it all over again and making the same mistake with expectations.”

It didn’t. And the situation is different — Riley clearly had faith in Spoelstra that Jim Buss never had in Mike Brown. (Which leads to questions of Brown’s hiring and why he was kept through the summer, but that’s another discussion for another day.) The Lakers made an aggressive change to Mike D’Antoni and just simplifying the offense has them playing better.

Chris Bosh said the challenge for the players is to tune all that out and focus on the job at hand.

“You hear all of the talk that’s going on on the outside and you try to ignore it, but that’s not always easy. There are decisions that aren’t yours and that you have no control over. All we focused on was playing basketball and just the day to day struggles that we had on the court, each game, each possession. That was enough.

“People in management are gonna make their decisions and you have to live with them and make them work.”

If the Lakers have that same outcome as that Heat squad — making the NBA finals this year — some of that noise will subside. But for now, the Lakers are the center of the storm and are just going to have to deal with the expectations, realistic or not.

LeBron James out with “general soreness”

LeBron James, Erik Spoelstra

This may seem like a big deal, because LeBron James is kind of a big deal. He’s a basketball machine who rarely misses time, and all things told, he’s one of the most durable players the league has.

So is it a little weird to see him hampered with such a regular folks thing like general soreness? Sure, a little. But don’t be alarmed — this is just a classic example of game recognizing game. This might not be on the level of Gregg Popovich listing Tim Duncan as “DNP – OLD” last season, but it’s a nice homage to Pop to sideline LeBron with “general soreness” for their preseason tilt.

Professional sports are kind of funny like this. Sometimes, players don’t have anything really wrong with them — they just need rest. Other times, it’s the coaches who just want to sit their stars and give them a break. But you can’t actually say that, because people buy tickets and the like. And really, you can’t just make up a specific injury because those pesky media types will start poking around, so you go the Ferris Bueller route with something vague. Flu-like symptoms. Cramps. General soreness.

Popovich has been trying to run the odometer backwards on Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker for years, so I’m sure he can appreciate Spoelstra’s ploy here. Not having to coach against LeBron James is probably a nice little bonus, too.

Neither Ray Allen, Dwyane Wade at 100 percent. Yet.

Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat

It is the caveat with every team’s lofty goals entering the NBA season — “if they are healthy…”

The Miami Heat’s goals are as lofty as they get, but the team does not enter training camp healthy.

Both Dwyane Wade (knee) and Ray Allen (ankle) are not all the way back from off-season surgery, coach Erik Spoelstra confirmed when he sat down with the media Thursday. But both could be ready when the season starts.

Here is what Spoelsra said about Wade, via Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel.

“He’s not 100 percent, so we’re going to be very vigilant on how we progress him. Hopefully, he won’t miss any regular-season time.”

As for Ray Allen, the prognosis for the sharpshooter is a little better.

“He’s been here for three weeks. He’s not 100 percent, but I wouldn’t notice it.”

In both cases, look for the Heat to be cautious. Because for all the lip service Spoelstra will give to the importance of training camp and the regular season, what he really needs is those guys healthy late in the season and the playoffs. That’s a long way off, but you don’t want a lingering, chronic thing. So things will go slow for the veterans in camp. Which is probably how they like it anyway.

Wade says the Heat are still evolving, which sounds like a horror flick concept

Dwyane Wade, LeBron James

Chris Bosh wound up a center, LeBron James turned into a power-point-center, Shane Battier was power forward and Dwane Wade played small forward. The Heat went through a series of radical and unpredictable changes last season on account of both emerging trends in their opponents’ lineups and the injury to Chris Bosh. Up was down, in was out, and the only thing that made traditional sense was that Mario Chalmers ran point and the ball always went through the best player (on Earth), LeBron James.

But just because it worked last season, doesn’t mean it will work next season. And Dwyane Wade, in comments to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, made it clear that the Heat, despite being champions, are still evolving, still changing, still getting better.

“You never know what player is going to start off and be playing a certain way and you switch things up a little bit,” Wade said. “But we have that luxury, because we have not only three marquee players, but we have a lot of other players on our team that’s very capable, highly capable, and very good.”

And there will be decisions to be made, from how to maximize Allen’s role in the rotation, as stressed during his recruitment, to where to play Lewis, with length suited for the power rotation but a frame more befitting a perimeter player.

“So our plan to come out,” Wade said, “is, let’s get together as a team, let’s get our team defensive concepts down, let’s get our offensive continuity down and  we’ll see what comes out of that.”

via Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade looks ahead to NBA championship defense. – South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com.

The Heat were three solid Boston quarters away from being sunk by the Celtics, and struggled with Indiana’s size. The Pacers improved. The Celtic arguably improved. The Lakers improved. The Thunder can’t help but improve. So the Heat will have to respond if they want to defend their title. But the ideas that the Heat used to win were sound.

After all that talk about ditching Erik Spoelstra (and I made as much noise about it as anyone — whoops), Spoelstra put the pieces together specifically by not cementing anything. It was that approach that lead them through, and it will have to be the same for Miami next season.

Pat Riley on Heat: “Our small ball team is who we are now”

Pat Riley

The Miami Heat won a title going small. It worked. You can bet next season you are going to see a whole lot more Chis Bosh at the five and LeBron James at the four. The Heat will be going small.

And Pat Riley is okay with that. Mostly.

Riley was on with friend of this blog Orlando Alzugaray — The Big O Show on 640 Sports in Miami — and talked pretty frankly about how he is not totally comfortable with the evolution of the NBA to more of a small-ball league. Riley said he worries about the lack of size more than anyone in the organization because he played with Wilt Chamberlain and coached Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal and Patrick Ewing and he knows what a great center can do for a team.

That said, Riley also said he used to play some small ball as a coach — with the Lakers he used to used Bob McAdoo and Mychal Thompson as centers for stretches.

“I’m a small ball guy if you have guys like LeBron, or James Worthy and Magic Johnson, guys who are 6’8” 225, 230 (pounds) and are very versatile,” Riley said. “You can put that guy at power forward so to speak and surround him with perimeter guys and a non-scoring center. That’s the nature of today’s game. The game has evolved over the last 10 years away from the dominance of any one big man, that team because almost obsolete and archaic unless you had someone who was just truly great, and there’s only three or four of them in the league now.

“Our small ball team is who we are now, I just want to have both.”

Riley added that the small ball trend is playing out in the Olympics.

“It’s changed dramatically and I think we’ll see in the Olympics exactly how this all plays out because Spain is playing big.” Riley said. “They play Marc Gasol and Pau Gasol together, so they have 7’1” and 7’0” and they are starting with a conventional backcourt and small forwards. We’ve got Tyson Chandler, then we go down to Kevin Love who is about 6’9” and he’s playing a power forward at center. So we’ll see. If it comes down to it, if Spain and the USA are in the gold medal game then it is going to be small against big and you’ll see who probably wins out in that one.”

Some other highlights of the conversation:

• Riley on coach Eric Spoelstra:

“I’m different than Erik. And I’m different in a way that’s bad to his being different in a way that’s good. He’s as intense as I am, so we both carry that intensity. But I was more of an in-your-face guy every single day for 30 years….

“In today’s game you can’t do that. I think Spo has a perfect demeanor with the players. His confidence and how he handles them in practice, talks to them in team meetings, handles them in games. And I know for a fact if he has to get up in a player’s face he’ll do it in a way they will both get something out of it.”

• “First off, we don’t have guys like that, who are always going to challenge the coach. But we have players who will challenge philosophies and ideas and situations and I think that is where he collaborates very well with all of our players….

• On Spoelstra’s growth as a coach:

“So when we got the big three and we went to the finals the first year, he had to take a hard look at himself. Just like some of our players did. About what he had to do the next time he was in that situation. And I coached a little bit so I know what is going on out there on the court. To watch him evolve this year, like in Indiana when there was a tough situation and a confrontation with Wade. I mean he stepped up and handled that over the next two days.”

• On recruiting to Miami:

“The fact that we have LeBron and we have Chris and we have Dwyane (Wade), that’s a pretty good arsenal to bring to a negotiating table with any NBA player, especially after we won a championship. So there is not any magic words that come out of my mouth…

“But a player will make a decision based on how comfortable he feels about the organization. Whether or not it’s an organization that is going to waste his time or is he going to have a chance to win. And I think in the end that usually plays out. Going after Ray (Allen) and going after Rashard (Lewis), they both knew what they wanted and that was to play with us. So it was sort of an easy thing for us at the end because they wanted to be here.”

• “I am actually amazed anybody on this Olympic team thinks they could come within 10 points of the Dream Team. But I would love to see it. It would be speed against size because back then we had some big guys.”