Tag: Heat-Mavs

Dallas Mavericks v Miami Heat - Game Six

Is Erik Spoelstra’s job in danger? It shouldn’t be.


In Miami, the blame has to go somewhere.

LeBron James is getting a heaping share. So are all the role players. But you can’t fire LeBron and in the NBA when teams don’t live up to expectations it is the coach whose job is on the line. Fair or not.

There are those wondering if Erik Spoelstra will be back with the Heat next season. He’s a young coach on a team that is as “win now” as it gets. David Thorpe of ESPN thinks that may pressure the Heat into a move (as he told Henry Abbott at TrueHoop).

I wouldn’t fire him. But I suspect they’ll think they can’t afford to wait another year to figure out of he’s the right guy for them. If he is fired, he’ll be employed again very quickly. I think he’s a terrific young coach, and he’ll get better and better.

A lot of NBA teams think that way, Thorpe is right. Pat Riley, however, doesn’t think and act like most NBA teams. Most likely Spoelstra keeps his job. And one thing Thorpe says I can verify — if Spoelstra were let go he’d be in instant demand around the league. Other GMs and basketball people speak highly of him. He is young, hard working, gets the game and considering everything he had to deal with this season he did a good job.

But next season he may well be on a much tighter leash.

One question is who would you bring in? Pat Riley is there but he does not want to return to the grind of being an NBA coach. Phil Jackson is taking a year off and might be an odd fit with that roster and front office anyway. Doc Rivers stayed put in Boston. Mike Brown is with the Lakers. Who is left that you really want to bring in? Larry Brown?

The Heat struggled early in the season but what should matter, what Pat Riley will likely take into consideration, is how they improved as things went along. By the end of the season they Heat were playing their best ball, against Boston and Chicago they had the off-the-ball action, the “big three” worked more in concert than next to each other. Things really were coming together.

On the biggest stage against a veteran team that fell apart. But that is not all on the coach — the roster is not deep enough right now, and it usually takes teams some hard losses playing together to learn how to win a championship.

Spoelstra also seems to have the backing of his players. His pregame white board in the locker room (detailing actions) is one of the better organized, more detailed in the league. And Spoelstra is figuring out how to motivate this team, Dwyane Wade told Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel.

“He’s good at analogies, using what we’ve been through, throughout this year, and stuff like that,” Wade said. “He’s actually getting better at speeches, though. He’s had a couple of good ones in this postseason and we were like, ‘Yeah.’ So he’s getting pretty good.”

What they have been through is key — Spoelstra is growing like this team is growing. They are doing it together, they have been through a season unlike one any other NBA team has dealt with in terms of media scrutiny and the feeling about them around the league.

Spoelstra is one of them. He shouldn’t be let go, he deserves a chance to grow with this team and help it take one more step.

But he might not want to get off to a 9-8 start next season.

Mark Cuban may not do championship rings

Dallas Mavericks v Miami Heat - Game Six

Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Tyson Chandler, Brendan Haywood, Shawn Marion, Jason Terry, all those Dallas Mavericks veterans who have chased rings through their entire career… they may not get them.

Oh, they get to call themselves champions, they get the chip and the bragging rights. But on NBA TV after the game last night Mark Cuban said he may not do championship rings for the players.

“I might not get rings,” Cuban said as Chris Webber started to give him look like he was nuts. “Rings are old school. You’ve seen it before: There’s guys who pick up the sweats and towels and they have these big, blingy rings. I’m like, ‘Rings are done. It’s time to take it to the next level.'”

If not rings then what? Championship belts? iPads with pictures of rings?

The rings are a bit old school, but so is his team? Has he looked at the ages of these guys? Those players he has may like the tradition. Except for DeShawn Stevenson.

Nation tunes in to see Heat fail, television ratings up

Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisl

America loves some good schadenfreude.

Miami Heat and LeBron James were on the brink of being knocked out and the nation wanted to watch, which is why the television ratings for Game 6 were the highest for a Game 6 in 11 years (the first of the Lakers three-pete titles with Shaq and Kobe).

(Look, I’d love to think America tuned in to watch the smart and efficient basketball of the Mavericks, that they finally get how special Dirk Nowitzki is, but frankly I don’t have that much faith in the American public. These are the same people who buy shape up shoes and watch the Kardashians.)

Game 6 generated a 15 rating (meaning about 15 percent of all television in the nation were tuned to the game), which is up from the 12.3 last year when traditional powerhouses (and larger television markets) Los Angeles and Boston were going at it. The 15 was the highest of any finals game this season and any of he first six from last season (Game 7 last year drew an 18.3).

That game caps off a playoffs and full regular season that saw ratings in the league up, saw interest in the league increase. There is a real momentum. It’s the one reason to hope the lockout gets solved before games are lost — that would kill everything that has been built. Both sides give lip service to that idea, but we’ll see what happens when the negotiations face deadlines.

Post game video from Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks

APTOPIX NBA Finals Mavericks Heat Basketball

The Dallas Heat sounded like the veterans they are, albeit ones overwhelmed by the moment.

The Miami Heat sounded hurt, except for LeBron James who sounded a little defiant to all those “haters” out there.

Below is some of the post game press conferences from players on both team — including James saying what he thinks of you if you don’t like him.

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The Miami Heat will be back. Sorry, it is true.

Dallas Mavericks v Miami Heat - Game Six

People around the nation are celebrating at the demise of the Miami Heat. The narrative that it is poetic justice for a team of veterans that played smart and was better than the sum of their parts would defeat the Heat seemed like poetic justice for many.

But Miami will be back. They are only going to get better.

With very few exceptions in this league, teams (and players) need to learn how to win at the highest levels. We think of Michael Jordan’s Bulls as mythic and forget the three years in a row they got smacked down by the Pistons in the playoffs before they won. Front offices learn what roster tweaks need to be made — Miami has a lot of those — and players learn lessons about sacrifice and stepping up on the biggest stage.

Miami just learned some hard lessons. Ones they can apply in future years.

For one, they have three great players — LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh — and three solid rotation guys (Udonis Haslem, Mike Miller and Mario Chalmers). After that… nothing. Pat Riley had to put together a roster of minimum players after putting together those top five and Chalmers, and it showed. In every finals you need the unexpected guy to step in and make plays — Brian Cardinal made key plays for Dallas, as did Ian Mahinmi — and the Heat had no guys capable of that on the roster.

Now Riley has another summer to put in role players that fit, and guys will want to come for the chance at a ring. Exactly who and how is impossible to say until we see what the new Collective Bargaining Agreement looks like, but Riley will find a way.

Also, the Heat players also are learning how to trust one another.

When Dallas stepped up its defensive pressure, LeBron seemed to get passive and the movement off the ball would come and go. Remember the late first quarter turnover where DeShawn Stevenson decided to put some light pressure on LeBron in the back court, then rather than just blow past him LeBron froze, picked up his dribble and tried to throw the ball to Mike Miller, who was not looking? Miami had a whole Game 6 of that. They looked completely out of synch.

On the other end, did it ever seem like Dallas took a bad shot in this series? When one Heat defender would over-help on rotations (which happens a lot with them) there would be two quick passes and Miami would pay by watching Dallas get an open look. Dallas adjusted to the athletic wings of Miami and started to hit shots with the closeouts coming as the series wore on.

Miami never came close to that kind of team efficiency. There were flashes of it, little spurts. But if they were kept in the half court it was spotty. The Heat stars played next to each other not off each other.

That is not on coach Erik Spoelstra — he does not design plays that have guys standing around off the ball. He did his job, but the veteran Mavs executed their coach’s plan in a way the Heat did not. Spoelstra will grow and win a lot with this team if Miami gives him the chance. They should. But there is a lot of pressure there to win fast, so who knows.

Miami will be back. This is not the best we will see of them. Their key players are in their primes, they will get better playing together (we saw that even during the playoffs) and the players around them will improve. This is not the last you’ll see of the Heat.

But this was not their year, it was Dallas’ turn.