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Erik Spoelstra, the coach of difficult situations

“If we’re going to get through this and get our ticket to the Finals, we’re going to have to do some incredibly difficult things. Going to Boston and finding collective solutions, these are emotions and obstacles that you have to live with. We remember it for the rest of our lives. »

This statement by Erik Spoelstra, which can be read in the columns of The Athletic, could have been made in 2012, at the same stage of the competition. The Celtics had taken the advantage and could conclude the series at home in Game 6. But LeBron James, with a historic game (45 points, 15 rebounds) and amazing authority, had reversed the trend.

“He is like a weapon in our arsenal”

The Heat won’t have the “King” this Friday night to do one of those ” incredibly difficult things”, but he still has the same coach. And like a great player, Erik Spoelstra loves these impossible missions.

“I think Spo truly lives for these moments”tell PJ Tucker and Udonis Haslem, to Sports Illustrated, with the same words. “We feel it in private conversations with him: he sees everything, he always thinks about the aftermath. He’s like that all the time”specifies the 2021 champion. “He savors such moments, when we are in the hard, in the trenches. That’s where he feels most alive.”confirm Udonis Haslem.

And players can rely on him in those hot times. “You have to have confidence in your vision, in your knowledge”, glisse Duncan Robinson. “He knows what is best for the team. We clearly have an advantage with him, compared to his counterparts. He is like a weapon in our arsenal. »

Even though Miami finished in first place in the East, their regular season hasn’t been smooth sailing. Erik Spoelstra only had his entire group at his disposal for a very short time. Blame it on injuries: Kyle Lowry missed 19 games, when Markieff Morris and Victor Oladipo only played 25 games.

And even in the playoffs, the little sores deprived Lowry, Butler, Tucker, Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo of being aligned at the same time. This quintet only played three minutes together after three sets…

“The most complete coach in the league. Erik Spoelstra masters all aspects »

Faced with this observation, the coach had to find solutions, with the weapons he had in his hands. “This season has been rich for all of us, to progress”he says. “The most important thing is to win, but you also have to improve, to be pushed to the limit to see how you can better face adversity. »

For his 160th career playoff game, the double NBA champion (2012, 2013), crowned among the 15 best coaches in history this year, can achieve a feat to confirm his place among the great technicians of his time.

“He is the most complete coach in the league”esteemed Udonis Haslem. “If we talk about systems, he sees things like no one else and leaves nothing to chance. If we talk about the relations with the players and the staff or the progression of the players, it is enough to look at where they are now compared to their arrival in the franchise. He leads the players to believe him, to adhere to our culture, to his discourse. Spoelstra masters all aspects. »

Being a coach of great moments, great playoff matches, does that mean that the long regular season cannot reward a profile like that of Erik Spoelstra? Because despite his superb track record, the latter has never won the coach of the year trophy.

However, in 2012/2013, with 66 victories, he had dominated the league, but the voters had preferred George Karl to him. And this season, he took Miami to the top of his conference, but it was Monty Williams who was crowned.

“I never understood. We talk about him as a great coach but he has never won this trophy. And 60% of his team is not drafted! », s’emporte Bam Adebayo. “I am surprised and disappointed”, insisted Udonis Haslem. « J’adore Monty Williams et what he achieved in Phoenix, but I would have given it to Spo. People don’t dwell on unsexy things: our coach is not. We don’t have players who score a lot of points, we have eight players who haven’t been drafted and we don’t care what people say about us. »

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