Miami Heat’s Erik Spoelstra is a very Underrated Coach

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Following one of their three regular season losses to the Chicago Bulls, a couple of current members of the Miami Heat broke down in tears. But none of the three regular season losses (by a combined 8 points) were as emotional or as lopsided as Sunday night’s 21 point drubbing in game one of the Eastern Conference Finals.

A beat-down like that has more inspiration for sobbing than a supermarket section of onions.

But at the time, the mood among the very talented team from South Beach was not one of despair though- instead it’s resilience, focus and ambition.

“We all know obviously the effort plays, the second-chance opportunities — all those things really deflated our focus and our concentration and effort there in the second half.  With all that said, and with all the evaluations about the game, we are still in a position to take control with a win on Wednesday,” Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra said.

And take control they did- not just of the Eastern Conference, but also the NBA Finals as well.

By Paul M. Banks

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As you know, the Heat went on to win the next four and take the series.

“And this whole series will be about enduring and how long can you endure through the physical grind, but just as importantly, the mental grind, because it’s two very competitive physical teams,” Spoelstra continued.

Clearly, Miami had to play much bigger in game two, possibly with a much bigger lineup. Like Udonis Haslem?

“It’s an option,” Spoelstra said at the time.

“I’ll evaluate everything.  The reality is a lot of the rebound, second-chance effort plays were with our main guys on the court.  And it’s something we can do much better.  We’re a very good rebounding team.  We’ve proven that all season long.  We’ve got to revert back to our habits.”

And obviously, those adjustments and evaluations worked, as the Heat boxed out better to limit Chicago’s second chance opportunities and decrease the rebounding margin in the rest of the series; and Haslem was a big part of that. Spoelstra knew what he was doing.

“You have to give them credit, they protect the paint as well an anybody in this league. In the first half we were executing and getting our triggers. We didn’t get to the line as much as we want, but really those effort plays and second chances really deflated us,” said Spoelstra.

And Luol Deng outplayed Lebron decisively in game one, but it never happened again. Spoelstra may receive a lot of criticism, but the kid who started out as the Heat’s video coordinator inspired James to play like a king the rest of the series.

“He’s (LBJ) played against three of the best in the league, and he adjusts- Iguodala and Pierce present challenges, and so does Deng. We have to do it collectively, but the on thing I know about Lebron, he always responds after a game where he thinks he can play better,” Spoelstra answered.

Again Spoelstra was right in answering the media, at a time no one believed in him and his team. James won that match-up in the remaining four games, an now we find the Heat just two wins away from winning the whole thing. Spoelstra is a big reason why.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook

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