NBA Finals Teleconference - Erik Spoelstra

June 14, 2013

Erik Spoelstra
D. Clarke Evans/NBAE/Getty Images

Q. Coach, you had a big winning streak and obviously the regular season is the regular season.  All of sudden in the last two rounds of the playoffs the team has come down to Earth with some losses.  In a sense does it say a lot about your opponent or more about the playoffs in general, how hard it is just to win in the playoffs, especially The Finals? 

COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:  Basically the same thing.  The further you go on, as it should, the competition gets better.  And you have to earn it.  If people just say it's about us and the fact that we're not winning, we don't have our act together, that's not giving any credit to the Pacers or what we're dealing with right now, with the Spurs. 
We feel these are the two best teams in the league, and it should be tight.  It should be contested.  It should be a tough series. 

Q.  Erik, I know Mike only took one shot, didn't make a shot last night.  Did that have the desired effect that you wanted in terms of spacing the floor at the start of the game in helping to create lanes for other guys? 

COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:  Yes.  It was about as impactful a zero‑for‑one game as you can have in The Finals.  And Mike knows what he brings onto the table for us.  So many things on both ends of the court, and each series is different.  It presents its own challenges.  This we feel is the best move for now against the Spurs. 
But Mike does provide spacing, whether he's shooting the three or not, and defensively his ability to do multiple things with us is key. 

Q.  Hey, Spo.  How much of a challenge these couple of days is just keeping that same edge that you had when you're down 1‑2 instead of feeling like the world is a much better place now that it's 2‑2? 

COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:  Today it's about a mental break, but tomorrow we're going to be real about it.  And, yes, the most significant factor, and that's not being able to put back‑to‑back wins, it's been the competition for the last two weeks.  Indiana and now with San Antonio. 
But there has to be a point where enough is enough.  And we have to try to fight for a breakthrough.  So that's what tomorrow will be about. 

Q.  Erik, when you put this team together, Chris has always been thought of as the third guy of the Big Three, personality‑wise and a lot of different ways.  What does it take, even though he is one of the Big Three and he's had to defer at times, does it take a special personality to be able to handle all that?  And how has he been able to handle all that? 

COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:  Yeah, it takes somebody that's probably capable of being a lightning rod for a lot of judgment, and unfairly also, because for this to work, we had to put him in situations that are out of the box and would open the door for easy criticism from the outside.  Everybody wants to put him in a conventional box of being a back‑end center and provide that type of post game for us.  But in reality he has to do so many other versatile things for us to make this thing work. 
So he has the mentality to be able to handle that and he has to wear a lot of different hats for us to be successful. 
Last night against this team he had to play all those minutes at the center and be a big presence for us.  And that's going to continue to have to be the case. 

Q.  Erik, Game 1 they only turned it over four times against you guys and got the win on your floor.  The last three games you've been able to turn them over 49 times.  What have you guys been doing differently in the last three games to create those turnovers, and then to the run‑outs and easy points? 

COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:  Nothing differently.  That's the fine line.  Our focus has been getting to our identity, which is an aggressive, disruptive defensive team.  And you're trying to do it against the best passing precision execution team in the league.  Who gets to who more often?  Sometimes the margin for error is a centimeter difference of our activity and their precision. 

Q.  Have you done anything differently game planning each game for Manu Ginobili, because he's really struggled so far in this series? 

COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:  No.  And sometimes it's just make or miss in this league.  We're trying to put pressure on them, some of the looks he's gotten he's been open. 

Q.  I was wondering if you could perhaps take a break from all these heavy game questions.  I want to ask you about your father and the influence that he's had on you in your career today in terms of the way you deal with players, the way you deal with people, and your work ethic. 

COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:  That's a curveball (laughing).
He had a tremendous influence.  Obviously I grew up as an NBA kid.  Not necessarily knowing I wanted to get into coaching, but I was around it.  I was in locker rooms and teams and coaches and players since I was six years old, seven years old.  But I think the biggest influence he had on me was the discipline and the work ethic that I saw him have in his profession and I've carried over.  And hopefully that would have been true whatever path I chose. 
He certainly did not push me into it.  When I told him I wanted to get into coaching when I was at college, he told me, he said "Where did I go wrong?"  Anything else.  "I've known too many coaches, and they're all crazy." 

Q.  Would you say you guys are still close?  Do you talk with him about your job? 

COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:  No, we talk all the time, but not necessarily about the job.  He's just very supportive.  He doesn't really have a coaching background, other than coaching me and my friends in fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grades.  That's his only coaching experience. 

Q.  Erik, yesterday you went out with a starting lineup with Mike Miller and you basically have four perimeter players with Chris Bosh.  I want your thoughts just on traditional positions and just how maybe people may be moving away from how we view the typical point guards, center, power forward.  Do you feel the league is moving away from viewing those players in those boxes? 

COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:  I don't know for the rest of the league.  It just depends on the personnel you have.  I think that's probably the biggest thing you're seeing now, is organizations are playing to their strengths, whatever those strengths may be.  Sometimes that's big.  It's a trend right now, but the Lakers were winning with two bigs just four or five years ago. 
So it can change quickly.  It just depends on who you have on your roster.  For us for this roster it made most sense for us to play positionless.  And it may not be the way for other teams.  But we had to go through significant pain to come to that realization.  And we've covered all this, but it was obviously the Dallas loss that made us change. 

Q.  How much do you rely on outside information like maybe from the (indiscernible) group from Stanford for tips on how to utilize your players best? 

COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:  Who is that from Stanford? 

Q.  (Indiscernible). 

COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:  No, I mean‑‑ what do you mean? 

Q.  I said do you rely on them at all for‑‑ like outside analytical groups to help you maximize‑‑

COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:  I don't even know who they are. 

Q.  Okay.  All right.  Thank you. 

COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:  Sorry about that. 

Q.  Just over the course of the last couple of weeks during these playoffs, obviously almost half the coaches in the league it seems like have turned over.  How aware of you are that?  And what is your sense of maybe why we've reached a point where at least in this past season, teams are so‑‑ maybe it's impatient or eager for change?  Do you view a sense of what the trend means right now? 

COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:  I think it's a terrible state for the profession right now.  And look, all you have to do‑‑ I mean, we see it differently.  The San Antonio organization and the Miami Heat organization.  True success in the NBA you must have consistency of culture.  When you see that type of turnover over and over and over, it's impossible to create any kind of sustainable consistent culture. 
And we don't see it as a coincidence.  We've had the same leadership in our organization now for 18 years.  Micky Arison took over, put Pat in charge.  Even though we have had four different coaches, myself, Pat, Ronny and Stan, it still has been the same culture and relatively the same philosophy.  San Antonio has been the same way for 15 years with Pop in charge. 
We don't see it as coincidence.  I think it's really a shame for the profession of coaching that it's been so volatile.  But I'm also very grateful that our organization doesn't behave in that manner. 

Q.  Will you talk about that culture?  Because clearly there is a direct line from Pat to the rest of you.  What do you think you're still bringing on a daily basis that is an extension of what Pat did and had done for all the years before and that Stan did?  What are those common threads that are part of that? 

COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:  I would hope that if somebody turned on a Heat game now, you could say that the ultimate compliment would be that we look like a Pat Riley‑coached team.  We know what that means.  Tough, competitive, defense‑minded, disciplined.  Probably said the same thing when Stan coached the team or Ronny coached the team. 
This team had to do it a different way, but hopefully those tenets still hold through. 

Q.  Yes, you said earlier that you feel like the move to Mike Miller in the lineup is the best move for you guys right now.  Is that something you are looking to stick with?  How much of an indirect impact did it have on the matchup with Dwyane lining up against Splitter?  They had to change from that and some other things that you guys have going. 

COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:  I think that was probably overblown.  That was 45 seconds into the game, so I don't think that really had a major impact. 
Again, it's something we felt we needed to do against this team for that game.  If we feel that we have to make another change, we will.  We won't hesitate.  Particularly at this time of year.  There's always a risk when you make moves like that, but we felt it was the best thing at this time. 
And even if Mike didn't score and only took one shot, he always has a positive impact on what we're trying to do. 

Q.  You said it's overblown because of the Splitter thing, but it did force them to adjust less than 40 seconds into the game.  Is that what‑‑

COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:  That wasn't our intention.  It was to help us in what we think we needed for that game to help us win.  But we're not trying to play chess with guys to see if they blink first.  That's not it. 

Q.  You know, you had that three‑day turn‑around period from the Eastern Conference to the NBA Finals.  Is this series going how you planned it?  Or what do you need to work on going further in? 

COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:  I don't know if we did plan on anything.  You just have to go into the series and see what happens.  You have to try to figure it out.  We felt that they were the best team in the West all season long. 
So in the back of your mind somewhere you feel that it will be a long series.  They're a great challenge.  They really are.  The way they move the ball and their execution, their precision.  You have to be absolutely connected and on point defensively at all stages or not only they'll beat you, but they'll embarrass you.  That's our focus as we get ready for Sunday, is to get our game right so we don't get embarrassed.

Q.  You've lost six games in the postseason, two against the Spurs.  Is there any kind of common factor that you see in those losses?  Or is it just kind of a different thing in this game? 

COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:  It's the competition.  The further you get, the better the teams are.  The more you play the better teams, the less chance you'll have of going on a run of whatever, ten straight, 15 straight.  It doesn't happen against the best teams. 
So each game is different.  I know it sounds like a cliché, but you have to get to that mentality as quickly as you can in the playoffs to be able to try to conquer it. 

Q.  Chris Bosh obviously has been maligned at times as far as rebounding.  What's been the difference in the last couple of games for Chris?  And how much of a difference is it going against a team like the Spurs that spread out more than against the Pacers, which obviously packed it in? 

COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:  Yes, it is a challenge with the Spurs.  A different challenge, because they keep moving around with the passing and three‑point shooting.  Sometimes you are caught in rotation. 
I don't know really what the difference has been with Chris.  All we know is we need it.  And last night he played all his minutes at the center, where we needed it even more.  It will be a collective effort.  But there won't be anybody else we can turn to.

Q.  You said before Game 7 against Indiana he apologized to his teammates that he hadn't been playing the same.  He's had basically a different kind of determination since then.  Would you agree with that? 

COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:  He has a great maturity, and we've developed a habit of owning it.  Sometimes that's the toughest thing to do in this league.  Particularly with expectations and all the analysis from outside, your initial human reaction is to deflect or point or blame.  But our guys get quickly to the matter of just okay, here's the deal.  Just own it so we can fix it and correct it and try to find the solution. 
Chris has always been very mature about that.  He's comfortable in his own skin.  He doesn't have to point or deflect.  He knows he has a big responsibility for us.  The competition will have something to say about that.  So you're not always able to dominate to your abilities based on what's coming from the competition.  But he knows he has to play well for us to win. 

Q.  I wanted to ask you about Manu and just kind of get your assessment on what you've been able to do to slow him down.  He struggled a lot in the playoffs, long before you guys were facing him in the playoffs.  What are you seeing out of him as a player?  Does it still feel like he's the guy that at some point he's going to pop and be the player he has been for so many years? 

COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:  I don't know if we're doing anything.  In Game 3 he made every trigger pass for them that embarrassed us.  And he was in the middle of all those plays that either led to points in the paint or three‑point shooting.  Even though the statline may not be what everybody wanted, he had a tremendous impact.  And sometimes it's just make or miss, to be quite frank. 

Q.  As a coach, some of the guys seem to respect and admire Manu.  Always plays the right way.  All the little things he does.  Are you in that club and have been for a lot of years as far as what he's been able to accomplish? 

COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:  Absolutely.  We've always looked at him very similar to our guy, to Dwyane.  And what makes him probably most dangerous is the unpredictability, his ability to be aggressive and do things on the court that aren't necessarily scripted.  That's where he's most dangerous.  He's tough to game plan for. 

Q.  So far until last night we've seen Dwyane Wade clearly limited by the knee.  Now we see a Dwyane Wade channelling 2006.  How does that happen?  Why was the difference in a full game with Dwyane last night? 

COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:  He's proven his toughness, and he doesn't want to talk about his health.  He would be disappointed if I talked about it.  There's no excuse for it at this point of the year.  He really should be commended that he's out there, and going back a month ago. 
But hey, he's willing to go out there and compete for his teammates and open himself up for criticism with expectations of something bigger.  And he's giving us everything he has. 
And last night he was able to dig deeper and go to another place that we needed.  Sometimes it changes from game to game.  But he understood he had to have a major impact on the game last night in a lot of different ways.  And he did it.  That was pretty impressive. 

Q.  Whoever wins Sunday obviously is one game away from winning the whole thing.  I know you're in the middle of this right now, but you've been in that spot before.  I was just wondering how you as a coach deal with that kind of stress of being so close to the goal that is the ultimate goal for you and is the only thing that you're playing for, when you get to that point where you're one win away or two wins away from achieving and going through all the pain and everything that you have to go through to get there? 

COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:  You probably know what I'm going to say, or all our local guys know what I'm going to say.  You have to be absolutely disciplined right now more than ever in the process.  You can't talk about a win away from a game to play for.  That will only muddy up your mind.  The only thing we can control is how will we approach tomorrow, and what is our mindset.  And do everything we possibly can to put us in the best position to compete and win on Sunday. 
But I'll never bring it up, and I don't want our guys talking about it, about the goal, ultimate goal in the next 48 hours.  It is about Sunday at first. 

Q.  Also a follow‑up, you're preparing your team with an eye towards the Spurs clearly.  I don't know if you can quantify just how difficult it is to be in this series, in this kind of a series against a team as good as San Antonio and the closeness of the competition, where literally it can be one shot, one miss, one box‑out, one turnover that determines whether you win or lose, and just what that puts a coach under in terms of prepping his team and staying up all hours of the night looking at film, looking for that one edge that might put you over the top? 

COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:  You just have to get to a place where you embrace the competition, accept it and embrace it.  They're a great basketball team.  They can beat us just the same as we can beat them, and that's what ultimate competition is.  You want it to be like that.  You want to be challenged and pushed and hopefully have the competition bring out the best in you. 
This competition is strikingly different than what we went through in the last two rounds before this series.  That should be fully embraced by us. 

Q.  LeBron and Wade finish so well and open up the floor for the other guys.  And Ray was able to penetrate and score off the runners.  Does that aspect of his game surprise you?  He's known as so much of a three‑point shooter.  But his ability to take players off the dribble even at age 37? 

COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:  No.  People forget he's been in a similar shoes as Dwyane and LeBron and Chris before.  He's averaged 27 a game in this league.  If you're averaging that, you're not just a spot‑up shooter; you have to do it in a lot of different ways. 
He has sacrificed to be a part of championship teams, adjust his game, but I think that speaks more to his character and his willingness to adapt to different roles. 

Q.  Just to follow up, when you have a player, I don't know who it is, who is kind of in decline and you see it, how do you deal with that?  The player can't do what he was capable of doing?  How do you deal with that, as his skills sort of decline quickly? 

COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:  Who are you referring to? 

Q.  Just anybody.  Anybody you've coached.  I'm not referring to anybody in particular. 

COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:  You just try to build your team around its strengths.  Whatever the strengths may be.  It's sounds like a very simple thing.  Oftentimes you can get sidetracked away from that.  If a certain player doesn't have the same strengths that they had before, you don't necessarily play to those strengths.  You play to other strengths. 

Q.  Coach, I would like to ask you, because you heard about that unfortunate incident that happened down there with your fans watching the game over there in Miami.  What do you have to say to those people that are out there watching your big win yesterday? 

COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:  Oh, yeah.  Our hearts and thoughts go out to them.  I've been there several times.  I've been out there on a boat to watch Sunday football.  It's a great venue.  I'm still trying to wrap my mind around it, how it happened.  But all of our thoughts are with those people, and I hope everybody is okay.  That's scary, and I hope it doesn't change people's thoughts on going to those type of venues.  They can be fun, as long asit's safe.  It's a great spot.  It's a shame.