Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra enjoyed tough NBA run
Led by 25 points apiece from LeBron James and Chris Bosh, the Heat secured a 117-92 victory on home court at the American Airlines Arena over top seeds the Indiana Pacers on Friday, to take an unassailable 4-2 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.
The Heat – who are gunning for a third consecutive NBA title – had headed into the play-offs having lost six of the nine regular season fixtures played in April, while they were also defeated eight times in March.
But Spoelstra believes those setbacks ultimately benefited his side.
“When we were going through some of the rough stretches this regular season, I kind of liked it,” he said.
“I think we’re often portrayed as we’re just waiting for the post-season. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
“There’s a lot of passion and frustration when we were dropping 10 of those games in the fourth quarter, where we had fourth-quarter leads from March ’til the end of the season.
“Guys wanted to win. We had to deal with some injuries and different line-ups and all those type of things and the struggle of closing out games.
“Ultimately, I think that helps you grow.”
The Heat now face the winner of the Western Conference finals, with the San Antonio Spurs currently leading the Oklahoma City Thunder 3-2, the two sides they have beaten in the last two NBA finals.
And centre Bosh is expecting a tough test whoever the Heat meet.
“Whoever we meet in the next round, it’s going to be a big challenge,” he said. “Obviously, we beat them (both) in the finals.
“Whether it’s San Antonio from last year feeling they had us (beaten), whether it’s a young OKC team we beat two years ago, they’re going to feel more prepared for this moment.
“It’s going to have its own challenges. But I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
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