Erik Spoelstra: Notion that Heat did not take regular season seriously is ‘off base’

Erik Spoelstra
Erik Spoelstra spoke to the media during Friday’s exit interviews. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

The Miami Heat, less than 48 hours removed from getting eliminated in five games to the Boston Celtics, conducted exit interviews Friday afternoon.

For the second consecutive season, the Heat, who finished 46-36 in the regular season, ended up in the play-in game and ultimately landed as the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. It was mired by injuries–forcing the Heat to utilize a franchise-most 35 starting lineups–but there was contentious debate whether or not the team took the regular season seriously enough or not.

Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra disputed those claims.

“To say that we, philosophically, don’t take the regular season seriously is off-base,” he said. “I can see why people would point to that because of the missed games. We are not a load management team. There were things that happened, and sometimes you can’t control that. There were still opportunities to find ways to win a handful more games, and I’m sure every team is going to reflect and look back on that.

“That’s not reality. We ended up where we were, and we ended up getting knocked out in the first round 4-1. And that’s what we’ll have to think about all summer.”

Miami missed the 10th-most games due to injury, per Spotrac. The biggest came in the postseason, where Terry Rozier missed the team’s final 10 games with neck spams and star forward Jimmy Butler suffering a sprained MCL in the play-in. Duncan Robinson, who’s dealt with left facet syndrome over the last month, was essentially available only by name during the final stretch after being one of the Heat’s most important offensive players throughout 2023-24.

The injuries were a real concern, compounding their lack of lineup and philosophical continuity, which contributed to the Heat’s 21st-ranked offense this season.

“We basically had three primary offensive philosophies and a lot last season, based on who’s available,” he said. “The styles of play were different based on who was available. I don’t want to make an excuse for who’s available, who’s not. We also have to what’s real and what’s not real, and if we have everyone available, what is the best plan.”

Miami fumbled multiple games throughout the season. It lost by nine at home to a shorthanded Grizzlies team with nine injured players; it fell apart late at home against Washington; it blew double-digit second-half leads to Philadelphia, Oklahoma City and Dallas (on the road); it fell flat at home against New Orleans, Golden State and Dallas (at home) in the final month of the regular season.

There were plenty of games that the Heat didn’t win. To Spoelstra’s point, the lack of continuity didn’t help, and every team will reflect on the “what-ifs” each season. But the concern stemmed from Jimmy Butler’s uneven regular season.

Every conceivable impact metric surrounding Butler–his rim attempts, rim efficiency, free-throw attempts, steals, etc.–also didn’t reach par, relative to expectation. Miami’s margin for error shrunk even smaller when Butler’s disposition didn’t meet expectations, forcing others to play above their weight.

That’s not to say Butler–or any other Heat player–“didn’t care,” per say. But as I discussed in the offseason preview, one can wonder if there are philosophical changes about how it approaches the regular season–frankly, from multiple angles.

“We’re going to look at everything because it’s not all apples to apples” he said. “I think what we do in terms of getting guys ready and in shape helps with soft-tissue stuff. It’s the other stuff that we have to take a dive into.

“Two seasons ago, we were good. The last two seasons are a little bit skewed based on guys that missed the entire season that weren’t fully in our rotation. But that doesn’t also absolve. We want to look at all the different angles on this.”

***

To check out our other content, click here.

Follow Hot Hot Hoops on Twitter/X here!

Follow Hot Hot Hoops on Instagram here!

5 1 vote
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
59 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
ManilaHeat

Clipps, Suns, Lakers more disappointing season than Heat. I think we’re just “tied” with Milw. Its gonna be a looong vacay.

SunManFromDogBone

Spo did the best he could with what he had. There are only a handful of elite teams in the NBA this year. OKC, Denver, Minnesota and Boston. If Miami had been healthy, it could have easily avoided the play-in games and would have been able to get by teams 2-8. By the Eastern Finals, Miami could have hit it’s stride (like last year) and who knows what might have happened against Boston? The Celtics might have had a couple of injuries along the way. Even if the Heat had gotten by Boston, it would have had a problem beating whatever team comes out of the West.

Regardless whether Jimmy stays or goes, Miami will have difficulty competing against the NBA’s elite teams in the next couple of years without some major changes. The team is not young enough, tall enough, fast enough and does not have enough offense. It is better to start the process of re-tooling/re-building now, while there is still a market for Butler, Herro and Robinson. If Riley waits a year, the team may be stuck trying to unload them for cheap and having to lowering it’s sites to just making the Play-in tournament, instead of the NBA Finals.

If Pat misses the window to re-tool this summer, he may set the team back for years to come.

ManilaHeat

Facts. The future does not look good. For now. As we wait for Pat’s decisions we might be staring at a new era of Heat basketball. Hopefully an improve and competitive one.

Reality Czech

OKC Dallas will be a fun series

vagibugi

Yes. With no clear outcome.

heat for life

gn rc go heat..this off season will be very intersting

Reality Czech

No doubt

heat for life

espn the broadcast so much better without db

heat for life

all these western teams would smoke boston

heat for life

nba players kd pg13 donov chase rings not beaches

ZechMerquise

i dont like kd. he got 2 rings already, so you can see he doesnt care anymore. pg is meh, donovan will prob stay in cle

heat for life

dallas gm mvp krie gaff pj

heat for life

this kyrie luka bc really thriving well didnt think it would

heat for life

come on james and pg 13 in playoffs u serious lac u dum asses

heat for life

i think jimmy really likes it down here we forget that.

Reality Czech

Who cares? It has nothing to do with him expecting an extension paying him $56 million a year. Are you telling me that there isn’t another player you’d rather pay that money to? As others have pointed out, the weather is similar in California and he could better pursue his commercial interests there.

heat for life

i think pat will talk him down hes making more $$ outside of bball

Reality Czech

No fn way. He has a huge ego. I’ll believe it when I see it. I guess we should expect him to lower the price of his coffee too.

HHHFAN4Life

Only 35 yo player I’d give 56ms to is Lebron (ik hes older) im just saying

Reality Czech

100% agree

heat for life

steph kd ?

Reality Czech

Good fair article on Butler. Also links to earlier article on other Heat players.
https://www.miamiherald.com/sports/nba/miami-heat/article288235255.html

Last edited 24 days ago by Reality Czech
heat for life

u come back with terry bam jim jjj thats as good a 4 in the east maybe besides boston.but holiday doesnt look as good and stringbean always hurt

heat for life

if im a player do i want to play with brunson in nyc lebron la embid phily bam miami greek milw

ManilaHeat

Spo just trying to be nice (and play safe?) and don’t wanna put more pressure on existing situation with Jimmy and others. If Pat let’s go of everyone so be it. Id say we tank for Cooper Flagg haha. Nervous laugh.

heat for life

let go jim i say just tank let bam go suffer for 4 years and then become okc

Reality Czech

Wanting a member of your team, and your team, to suffer for years? What a great and positive fan you are. Not.

heat for life

tanking dude sometimes best thing to do

Reality Czech

For you maybe, for the Heat, never.

ManilaHeat

Haha not yet used to it huh. Makes me laugh every time 😆

Reality Czech

I should be, I know…

heat for life

the heat will suffer once we trade jim.500 team

Reality Czech

Check the record Mr I Know BB, we’re already a 500 club the past 2 years. Where ya been?

HHHFAN4Life

Glazing Jimmy. That’s why he don’t want them to trade him, again if Mia gets a up and coming young talent say Jalen Williams out of okc for Jimmy, serviceable players from Robinson Martin Herro with 2nd year jjj, fresh off the Olympics jovic and bam. There is no reason that team couldn’t win as many games as the current roster just won these last 2 years. They’d be young athletic have a upcoming star with spo as coach can’t no one on this thread tell me that team couldn’t make the playoffs in the east nect year

Reality Czech

I share your optimism

HHHFAN4Life

They play in the east and have one of the best coaches in the league. No reasons to be gloom all they have to do is make the right moves get some young talent from trades and they’ll be fine.

heat for life

we forget how good terry was playing before he got hurt all star level,that was a major loss two most important players injured take your two best players off any team see what happens.u trade jimmy your saying to your fans we are in a rebuild mode.

Reality Czech

he should give us a discount. salary cap thief unmotivated oft injured ex ss no thanks”
Dude, you really are incredibly inconsistent with your feelings. The team has been a 500 team the last 2 seasons. We lost the first play-in game each of the last two seasons, and had to win the second just to secure the 8th seed.
I’m with HHHFAN. Rebuilding does not mean we’ll be a bad team for years to come. Get some good players and a couple of picks for him and the team can rebound quickly, with youth. I’m not saying that will happen. Knowing Riley, he may try adding another aging star like Durant to make another run. I believe that would be a mistake.

heat for life

u got teams like lakers phily has 60 mil cap room knicks now very good why would any good player want to come here.i believe d wades retired.rc and your not getting an all star player for jimmy .wishful thinking rc .bam is a good # 3 type player u need a 1 and a 2.i think terry is a 2.and maybe maybe jimmy does the lebron conditioning really dedicates himself heals up and gets his legs back.u trade jimmy your not sniffing the playoffs for a while.whales are not coming here dont have the assets

Reality Czech

Okay genius, read the Miami herald article i posted above about Butler and other players by Barry Jackson in an interview with an NBA scout. Everyone would take their opinions over yours, today and every day of the week.

heat for life

ive been into sports for about 55 years i make my own opinions think i know sports pretty fn good i dont need to read guys opinions on sports .ira winderwoman who the f is he.dave hyde and seek just another sports fan like me or u.i dont read their stuff u have to pay anyway.i go with my opinion .thats the way it is.if u want to challenge my sports knowledge lets play the old game sports challenge with dick enberg one day rc

Reality Czech

Congratulations! Good for you! Relying on only your own opinion is the definition of subjectivity. I’ve been into sports longer, so what. I use my own opinion plus many other sources to reach an objective conclusion. And I certainly accept opinions of writers who have been PAID for as much as 35 years for their opinion. Plus, as in the article above, a scout who also doesn’t just get paid for his opinions, but also has influence over what player a team adds to the roster.

heat for life

a scouts opinion different than iris and hyde

Reality Czech

I mean, dude, this was YOU, of course, that wrote this:
he should give us a discount. salary cap thief unmotivated oft injured ex ss no thanks”
I didn’t realize that ‘salary cap thief’, and ‘no thanks’ was your way of saying you think it’d be a great idea to pay him and run it back, lmao!!

Reality Czech

why would any good player want to come here”
Perhaps because they have one of the most respected coaches in the league. Maybe because they are competitive in most years. Maybe, as you said about Butler, they like South Florida. Maybe because there’s no state tax, leaving more in their pocket.
It amazes me that a so called fan of this team would question why a good player would want to play here.

heat for life

guys came here for d wade even butler(marquette)

Reality Czech

That’s definitely not the only reason players come here, lmao. Silly.

heat for life

lebron bosh 100%

heat for life

was w/o terry, bam jim jjj good building block for next few years,the year to win the title was few years ago lakers were beatable .spo kept crowder on ad like the whole series.or to beat denver get some size vs joker

Reality Czech

he should give us a discount. salary cap thief unmotivated oft injured ex ss no thanks”
I agree with that version of you.

heat for life

im back and forth with jim,talent like that doesnt come around to often.still our best player

Reality Czech

Yes he is. Wait til the $50 million man starts taking all that time off and you just keep hoping that playoff Jimmy will save the day, just like you did this entire season. As always, you’ll be first in line at the complaint window.

Last edited 24 days ago by Reality Czech
Reality Czech

Last 5 years Heat finished #5, #6, #1, #8, #8 in Eastern Conference. Not a good trend.

ManilaHeat

Reality hurts. This reality…not RC lol

Last edited 24 days ago by ManilaHeat
Reality Czech

😆

heat for life

check

Reality Czech

Sorry Spo, I partly disagree. The team may have taken the regular season seriously, but it seems like one player didn’t. Despite all the legitimate injuries, I won’t be convinced that we couldn’t have won 2 more games that would have meant 4th or 5th seed instead of the play-in. Again. Not caring about the regular season and expecting your #1 player to morph into ss mode again was pure fool’s gold.

HHHFAN4Life

Those 2 games being Washington and the grizzlies when they pulled a heat and won with gleaguers/players off the street ofc he would say they did but everyone with eyes saw, Jimmys personality has rubbed off on the team. Along with not having the talent to compete with the league who it seemed like every team got better besides the normal cellar dwellers and Mia

Last edited 25 days ago by HHHFAN4Life
Sundayafternoons

Even just not losing two fourth quarter leads in the last week of the season…

Saying that. I really hope Duncan can fully recover from his back injury.

59
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x
Scroll to Top