Erik Spoelstra says Heat either pull together or face ‘incredible amount of frustration’ – The Denver Post


Erik Spoelstra didn’t name names, because he doesn’t name names.

So when the question was raised in the wake of Saturday’s loss to the Sacramento Kings about the reason for another sluggish start and the Miami Heat’s resulting fall to a 2-5 record, the response was about the collective need for individuals to come together.

It was, in effect, a coach’s way of sending a message without singling out.

Even if it appeared that was the intent.

“Right now,” he said, as the Heat return from their 1-2 western swing, next to face the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night at FTX Arena, “this is about the collective group. How are we going to impact this thing together to impact winning? And if we try to do it any other way, it’s going to lead to an incredible amount of frustration.

“Anybody that’s trying to do it on their own, anybody that’s trying to self-will it, anybody that’s trying to work any kind of individual goals with this, it ain’t gonna work. It ain’t gonna work on either end. We have to come together as a group to figure this out and impact winning.”

Such is the rhetoric that has been utilized with previous rosters. But that was when Hassan Whiteside was hoarding statistics, James Johnson was producing wildly erratic performances, Dion Waiters irrational confidence was growing too irrational.

This is different. This is largely that same roster that finished within a victory of last season’s NBA Finals.

This is a team that still has the confidence, faith of its coach.

But it is a coach who also appreciates the razor-thin margin for a team lacking anything close to a star-laden roster.

“We know what our identity is,” he said. “We know we have to compete at this game together, on both ends of the court. We have that kind of disposition, and we have that commitment defensively when we’re fully engaged. And it’s just proven to be extremely costly when we’re not living on that razor’s edge.

“And that’s what we’ll fix. We obviously have some time. We’re not in a panic about it. But we don’t want to wait. We don’t want to wait anymore, particularly when we know the answers to the test. It’s just the full commitment to do this connected and together on both ends.”

In the wake of Tyler Herro scoring 34 points in Sacramento, Spoelstra pushed past a question about Herro. There also was no focus on Bam Adebayo’s 23 points against the Kings.

It was Spoelstra’s way of making clear that this is a sum-of-its-parts equation.

Of that, he was exceedingly willing to further elucidate.

“It’s not rocket science for us,” he said. “We understand the answers to our test. Everybody has their own test, and you have your own identity to create. And we just have to fully commit to that, and doing it together.”

Against the Kings, the Heat were awful in the first half. They then outscored the Kings by 16 in the second half.

“There’s a stark difference to our disposition, activity, communication, effort, all of that, in the second half, with that desperation, as opposed to the start of the game, allowing so many easy baskets that get a team in an incredible rhythm,” he said of the ongoing problem. “And then, also, some quick shots, ill-advised shots in the first half just compounded some of our defensive lapses.”

Again, it was the what that was addressed, not the who.

“We’re not that far away,” he said of his team’s worst start since 2016-17, when the Heat team opened 2-8 on the way to a 11-30 first half of the season. “It looks and feels sometimes that it’s worse than it is. It’s very close, but we have to fully commit to get there.”

Coming together, he said, instead of pulling apart.

“We have to be way more consistent to our identity offensively,” he said. “And we know what it is. We just have been testing the fences to see if we can do it another way. That pain of losing will get us to change it quickly.”

Or there will be more pain, he said.

“We can test the fences and do it a bunch of different ways that don’t work,” he said. “Or, alright, we know what works and let’s commit to that and get to it right away, and get to it as consistently as you can.

“Even when we get to that on the majority of the possessions during the game, it doesn’t guarantee a win, but it’s going to put us in a position way more frequently.”



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