NBA Report: Miami’s Force of One

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gminnis / May 27, 2011

If Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra ever tires of the job many now consider to be the premiere coaching gig in all the NBA, an equally promising second career as a smooth-talking, fortune-telling soothsayer might eagerly await him.

All season long, Spoelstra has incessantly sang the refrain “we have enough” whenever hit with a deluge of questions about his team’s depth and resolve and how those shortcomings might ultimately come to derail their quest for a title. “We just have to know who you are,” Spoelstra always lamented.

Following Thursday night’s dramatic, come-from-behind, series-clinching 83-80 Eastern Conference Finals win over Chicago—replete with four points plays, three point shots and a defensive stand so relentless it would give Napoleon pause— millions of other spectators are undoubtedly coming to share in the Heat’s self-validating acceptance of one another.

“It’s about will,” said Dwyane Wade. “The regular season was about figuring things out… and now we’ve figured things out.” And apparently, they’ve also bought more into Spoelstra’s brilliantly maddening head games.

Like a well-oiled machine, all throughout the series the Heat alternately used the brilliance of Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh to pick a part a Bulls defense that had ranked tops in the league all season. Game 5’s fourth-quarter rally merely served as a textbook illustration of all their newfound symmetry.

With 3:14 remaining and the Bulls seemingly safely ahead at 77-65, Wade and James each scored eight points, alternately assisting on one another’s scores, mind you, during an 18-3 closeout to shockingly dispense of all mystery. During that same spurt, Bosh grabbed three rebounds and added a pair of game-clinching free throws.

“We had to go through a lot of adversity,” said Spoelstra. “That struggle that we went through in Match, where we lost five straight—all of them close games, where we didn’t execute down the stretch and weren’t able to close game out—that helped us. As painful as that was, we had to go through the fire together to be able to gain the confidence where we could be successful now in the postseason. You have to stay the course.”

For the Heat, it all seems to resonate as gospel. —Glenn Minnis