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Erik Spoelstra: More Experienced Miami Heat are Ready to Make Another Run

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Erik Spoelstra: More Experienced Miami Heat are Ready to Make Another Run

The Miami Heat went through their fair share — or perhaps even an unfair amount — of growing pains in their first year with The Big Three. There was all kinds of drama, whether it was real or media-made, as they attempted to build an identity. It involved things like CryGate and questions of whether LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh could find a way to play together. They answered those questions, making it all the way to the NBA Finals before losing to the Dallas Mavericks. In the eyes of coach Erik Spoelstra and the team, that simply isn’t good enough. But they believe last year’s experiences gives the team a leg up in trying to win it all this year.

Erik Spoelstra joined 790 The Ticket in Miami with Jorge Sedano to discuss the short training camp and preseason, playing LeBron more in the post, a faster tempo on offense, the point guard position, playing a deeper rotation this year, getting over last year’s loss in the Finals, what he learned about himself through that process and his recent contract extension.

How do you feel about where the team is right now given a short training camp and preseason?:

“We feel confident and we’re certainly much more comfortable than we were last year at this time, even though things are moving at an unusually fast pace. It’s like that for everybody, so we’re all in the same boat in the league in terms of a condensed schedule. … Thankfully, we went through that journey last year and we went eight months together, that’s about two months longer than the majority of the teams. … All of that experience have helped us fast-track this training camp.”

On adjustments to training camp:

“We’ve adjusted our training camp this year where we’ve competed and played and scrimmaged a lot more than we did last year to try and get guys on the same page. … Everybody has a better idea of what their roles are, what’s expected of them.”

On the discussions about playing LeBron a little bit more in the post:

“No question he’s worked on it this summer and spent a lot of time trying to improve that aspect of his game. That shows why he’s such a great player. He always tries to add something new and, more importantly, something that we need. We needed a post presence down there.”

Do you expect the offense to be more up-tempo?:

“Yeah, speed is one of the things we’ve been focusing on. I think the fans will enjoy the style of play we’re planning on playing this year. Speed, athleticism, quickness, that’s one of our strengths and we hope to really take advantage of that.”

How do you feel about the point guard spot?:

“Very comfortable. Mario Chalmers is somebody that’s grown in our system. Objectively, look where he was his rookie year to where he was at the end of last year. He’s come a long way and he comes in as a very confident pro and more mature this training camp. I think he’s poised for a very solid season. Our young kid, Norris Cole, the fans are absolutely going to love this kid. The energy, the passion, the speed he brings to the game.”

Do you expect to play a similar rotation as last year or will it be deeper?:

“A deeper rotation, particularly on the back-to-backs or when we have those really extreme parts of our schedule. There’s one part of our schedule, in fact, where we play eight games in 11 days. That’s unheard of. We’ll certainly play deeper into our rotation, which is great for the young guys. They’ll get an opportunity. We also feel that depth is one of our strengths. Even if guys suffer some minor injuries and have to sit out, we feel that we’ll be able to withstand that and utilize our depth.”

How long did it take you to look back at last season and the Finals and give yourself some breathing room?:

“It was tough. There’s no doubt about it. When you come that close, within reach of your goal, long journey last season, two games from reaching it, you feel so close. It took me about a month before I was able to start watching the games again and pull myself up. … Last year, we didn’t accomplish what we wanted to accomplish. … This can now be the beginning, again. We can start the journey again and put ourselves in position to play our best basketball when it counts. All of us spend a lot of time reflecting on ways we can improve and do things better.”

What did you learn about yourself from that experience?:

“You learn how to manage adversity. We had to last year. There were four or five storms out there where we had to make sure that we stayed together and managed our personality inside the locker room and keep what was real in a box and understand what was not real. We were able to do that and learn that on the fly. I think we were one of the few teams in the league that got better every single month.”

Do you feel like teams have to go through adversity and tough times like that in order to eventually reach their goal?:

“It’s easy to rationalize that now, and often times that is the case, but every championship journey is different. When we were going through that last year, we said, ‘Hey, we have enough.’ … It didn’t happen. Now we fall into the category of a lot of teams that came close, had to go through that experience to find out what it would take to get over that hump. … We cannot fast forward right now, to June. The only thing we can focus on right now is trying to get better.”

On the contract extension:

“I wasn’t focused on any of that. It is a family organization. I’ve been here for 16 years. We’ve developed such great trust and we have contact every single day, talking about the team. … That was the furthest thing from my mind, but when it happened, yeah, it’s great for me and to focus on what I needed to do for the job.”

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