When it comes to getting to the basket often, Dion Waiters and Goran Dragic are two of the best in the league. Their drives per game average -- Waiters is seventh with 16.5 per game and Dragic is right behind him (16.3) -- rank among the league leaders and the Miami Heat as a team are second in the league in drives per game (55.1). All that said, neither Dragic nor Waiters rank in the top 50 in free throw attempts and the Heat themselves are 28th in that category overall.
Those numbers -- and others -- have the Heat upset over a lack of free throw-resulting foul calls and they addressed that issue at Thursday's practice. Manny Navarro and Andre C. Fernandez of the Miami Herald report that to coach Erik Spoelstra, complaining about the issue ad nauseum is a bit pointless. But, Spoelstra, Dragic and Waiters are letting their thoughts be known, too:
In addition, the Heat is getting fouls called on them at an average of 20.3 fouls per game, sixth-most in the league and is drawing fouls on their opponents at a rate of 18 per game, ninth-fewest. Only three teams have a bigger gap between getting calls to go their way and being called for fouls than the Heat (-35): Golden State (-57), Milwaukee (-54) and Philadelphia (-46).
“It doesn’t matter what I feel right now,” a frustrated Spoelstra said Thursday at practice. “I still want our guys to play to our identity offensively and that’s to be aggressive. That’s to attack. That’s to get to the paint. We’re second in drives. I love that. We can’t control the officiating, but I am going to be hard on our team.
“We’re not looking for excuses. We’re not looking for a bailout from the officials. We can’t control that. A big part of our challenge right now is developing the mental fortitude to sustain an entire 48 minute game of emotions of runs, of adversity of good stuff and be able to sustain our game and we’re struggling to do that. Managing our frustration is a part that we have to get much better at. I’m not making an excuse for our team and I refuse for them to look for that bailout from the officials.”
“You watch games and you see guys get to the free throw line who [are] no where near as aggressive as you. It’s tough,” Waiters said. “Especially with me, Goran, [and James Johnson]. If you watch, it’s contact every play with us. I’ve got to do a better job trying to keep my cool, but sometimes I get frustrated because I know for a fact that I’m getting hit.
“This is for the last 10 years the same question for me. I’m already past that,” Dragic said Thursday. “I just want to play my game and not to be focused on the refs because when I do that I lose my composure, I lose myself and I’m not a big help to my team."
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