Three weeks ago we were eating turkey, watching the Lions lose (again), and making up our own favorite “Sure, Pat Riley isn’t taking over this team and (fill in the blank)” joke. The Heat were a mini-disaster and there were rampant rumors that his job was on the line. The entire time Spoelstra stayed calm as can be and just did his job. The result? A seven game winning streak including wins over the Jazz who toppled them in November and the Warriors on the road. Not a bad turnaround.
Are there still problems for the Heat? Absolutely. They still get lost on offense, they don’t have a real viable option at either point guard or center, and Chris Bosh still looks like ice cream wrapped in a Twizzler most of the time.
But the winning has had at least something to do with Spoelstra, and it would appear his focus and intensity is starting to get through to the team. Whatever he’s doing is starting to work, and the results are coming as a result. Consider that Miami hasn’t just been winning, they’ve been winning decisively. The Heat have now regained the top spot for efficiency differential. Dwyane Wade and LeBron James are playing better together, involving one another. Mario Chalmers has found a role in the offense, and Z’s pick-and-pop has found its range.
Spoelstra still has yet to lead this team to a win against an elite opponent…. okay, that’s not true. What we really mean by that is the Heat haven’t beaten the Celtics or Lakers. They’ve got their next chance in fourteen days. Getting to where they’ve got to be to compete with those teams starts with the coaching getting the players to buy in, the players executing, and beating the crap out of bad teams. They’re on their way, and that’s more than could be said a month ago.