Tag Archive: Erik Spoelstra


By:  Jason “Big J” Allen @unsportsmenBigJ

“All you need is LeBron, and you can win”; “If I had the big 3 they could coach themselves”; “Man, Spoelstra can’t coach Pat Riley is making him great”.  -Comments from the peanut gallery.  I know some of you reading this have made comments like this or at least very similar.  I’m here to say stop that crazy talk.  Don’t let your hate/love of LeBron overshadow how Great Erik Spoelstra is as a coach.  Yes I just said Great!  I will examine the knocks on Spoelstra and why they are just simply crazy.

Let’s attack the elephant in the room and that is the Big 3 MADE Erik Spoelstra talk.  Yes do Superstars make winning easy?  Yes Sir, ask Rick Adelman how many Championship chances he would have had if not for Shaq/Kobe, MJ/Pippen, Magic, Isiah Thomas.  See a trend here?  The Superstars, or better yet some of the 1, or 2 best players in the game at the time held Adelman back.  Who coached these teams, Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, Chuck Daly, all time greats that we don’t knock because they had Greatest Players in the World in their era.  So stop the Big 3 talk, if you exclude the 2003-2004 Detroit Pistons, every team in the last 20-25 years who won titles have had Superstars not a Superstar, but SuperstarS (most had Big 3 of thier own).  We don’t take away from Phil for MJ/Pippen/Rodman, Reily for Magic/Jabar/Worthy, so why do we reduce Spoelstra’s ability for LBJ/Wade/Bosh (and some of you don’t respect Bosh as a Superstar).  We do this because LeBron is not Jordan and Spoelstra is not Phil Jackson type personality.

The first two years before LBJ took his talents to South Beach, and we had the Heatles, Spoelstra won about 56% of his games with one Great and a ton of average players (Michael Beasley, Jermaine O’Neal, Quentin Richardson, and Carlos Arroyo).  I know you look at the 1st rd exits in both years, the Atlanta Hawks I can’t defend, but the next year the Celtics bounced Spoelstra and the Heat.  Give him credit he still got the team above .500 in the East and we know you can make the playoffs with a sub .500 record.  In Spoelstra’s first 2 years as head coach Dwayne Wade had the best years of his career and Wade credited Spoelstra for helping smooth out his shooting form.  Once again you need multiple superstars to make championship runs, but with one superstar Spoelstra continued to keep the Heat above water.

“No rebounding, No Ring” words spoken by Pat Riley, but the Heatles are one of the worse rebounding teams ever.  Why would Pat Riley make a team that went against his philosophy?  Because Pat Riley deferred to Erik Spoelstra to build this two time championship team.  For the last time world please repeat after me “PAT RILEY IS NOT BEHIND THE SCENES COACHING THE HEAT!”  Stop that talk, this is Spoelstra’s team and it shows.  They devalue rebounding and post play.  Say what you will about “Showtime” Lakers, but they were a down low post playing team, don’t believe me see the name Kareem Abdul-Jabar.  Spoelstra’s team is not built that way, he believes in the new wave of the NBA.  Wingman scoring, huge emphasis on the Guards and Small Forward play, with situational defense, and three point shooting.  This is not the Riley way, but the Spoelstra way, because its coached by SPOELSTRA!

Lastly, if you watched the Finals, Spoelstra out coached Popovich in situational moments, and for a good majority of the series.  You want to know why Tony Parker didn’t play down the stretch of Game 6 and 7, because LeBron James wore him down.  A move Spoelstra made, he decided to have LeBron switch onto Tony Parker earlier.  How about the small line up Spoelstra forced Popovich to have to play?  Spoelstra neutralized the Heat’s weakness of rebounding by making the Spurs go small or move their bigs out of the lane to respect shooters.  Also how about the Game 6 decision to let LBJ go “Cleveland” style in the 4th quarter by giving LBJ isolation and a running start from just below half court to attack the basket.  Another great testament to Spoelstra’s coaching is his ability to watch and breakdown tape, so his team will be prepared for the next game.  This NBA Playoffs, anytime the Heat lost a game they won the next game.  Also an interesting stat is outside of these Finals if the Big 3 lost game won in the playoffs they usually went on to sweep the next four games.

So before we give all the credit to LeBron, and Riley.  Before we disregard Spoelstra’s coaching ability.  Before we start wondering if Spoelstra is a Hall of Fame coach.  Let’s just respect what this man has done thus far in his young coaching career.  The Zen Master didn’t have his team do Yogi for 1 ring, but 11.  Pop didn’t lose his hair on his way to 1 ring, but 4.  Riles didn’t keep dying his hair black for 1 ring, but 4.  And Spoels didn’t watch hours of tape, take a LBJ shoulder bump, and a Dwayne Wade cursing out to just win 2 rings, but….

Jason "Big J" Allen  @UnsportsmenBigJ

Jason “Big J” Allen
@UnsportsmenBigJ

We got another BLOW OUT!  Really NBA Finals, David Stern you can’t even rig the game to be more competitive.  Hell even Roger Goodell cut the lights in the SuperDome so the Super Bowl wouldn’t be a blow out.  Now back to reality of the Game 3 debacle, just like Game 2 this recap will be easy.  I wrote an article last week called “Game 1 cost the Pacers the Series” and this series is following suit, but the Spurs won Game 1 and since then we have seen the Coaching Chess match between the Jedi Master (Pop) and the Jedi Knight (I know you want to call Spoelstra a Padawan or Youngling, but give the man respect.)  Game 3 was definitely a recover from a Spoelstra “check” in Game 2.  Now on to the breakdown:

In Game 2 I mentioned how Spoelstra went to a small line up on the Spurs to give LeBron mismatches, well Popovich took the strategy and spun it on Spoelstra.  He let the Heat run the small line up and instead of adjusting he basically said “LeBron beat us with a jumper.”and since we are not going small against you we will dominate the boards after the LeBricks.  Now Popovich was even more disrespectful to Wade and basically gave Wade what we call in the hood a “self check”.  Basically giving Wade all space and no respect because Popovich feels Wade CAN’T beat them.  The Heat have been a terrible mid range shooting team all year.  Don’t let the shooting percentage fool you, those shoots were mainly in the paint.

Now we all know the real story of the game was Neal and Green shooting the lights out.  Now I don’t expect them to ever have games like that again, but WOW what a display.  The Heat had a refusal to close out shooters.  With a hobbled Tony Parker the cut and dish was not going to be effective but since Miami decided to let shooters shoot, they got shot out the game and gym.  Still let’s give a shout to the MVP of the Heat right now, Mike “I’m always injured until the Finals” Miller, he was the peasant that tried to save the King, but had no help.

Now a couple of non coaching moves that disappointed me with Spoelstra. The continued reliance on Chalmers was embarrassing, he was a turnover machine, didn’t push the tempo, and he was allowing penetration which was setting up the 3 point barrage from the Spurs.  I also thought he should have thrown LeBron on Parker to stop penetration and just had the wing defenders deny the shooters.  Another suggestion is after you realized that the Spurs were going to make the Heat a jump shooting team, he should have adjusted the line up.  Sit LeBron for a few minutes and go all shooters (Allen, Miller, Battier, Cole, and Bosh) and let LeBron see that he has to penetrate and kick out to shooters.  Then sub LeBron in for Battier and let those shooters try to get them back in the game.  Now I know defensively they would have been suspect, but you have to change it up when your getting destroyed.  Now all of this is for nothing if LeBron wakes up and realizes that he is the best player in the world and get over the fact that he has no help or rather elite help.  Wade is beat and Bosh is just mentally not there and it is showing in his game.

So here’s to a competitive Game 4!  Let’s see what Spoelstra has up his sleeve, because right now Popovich is up 2-1.  Side note is it me or does Popovich remind me of Darth Sidious/Palpatine.  He sits in the press conference and praises LeBron and how great he is and how dumb the rest of the world is, very Palpatine.  Then he gets to the game and the hood comes over and he disses Doris Burke, shoots lightening out of his fingers and laughs all the way to victories.

Jason “Big J” Allen

@UnsportsmenBigJ

With Game 3 of Finals being played tonight in San Antonio the defending champion Miami Heat are looking to take back home court advantage in the series.  The Spurs have two of there big 3 playing but where is the Slashing Argentinian (i made that nickname up)Ginobili!!!!!! #CharlesBarkleyVoice.  Ginobili is avg 9.0pts so far and even worse only took 6 shots in Game 2.

Obviously, everything runs through Tony Parker who should take the majority of the shots but if the Spurs want to avoid getting blown out again they have to get Ginobili involved. I’m not being critical of Pop(currently one of the best in the game if not the best), but I feel that he needs to setup some back cuts and screens for Ginobili to get some easy looks at the basket, those moves may also get him to the line.  Some top of the key isloation plays where Ginobili can take advantage of Chalmers/Cole in the 4th quarter, because the King will be on Parker.  Once #20 gets some easy buckets he’ll regain his confidence and start to play like the man that helped the Spurs win multiple championships.

Again the Spurs won’t win this series without Ginobili.  Or if Pop decides to get his Erik Spoelstra on and sit Ginobili ala D. Wade, but I don’t think the Spurs have anyone else with enough talent to fit Ginobili’s production.  So they will live or die with GINOBILLLLI!!!!  (Again in Charles Barkley voice) and I think they live by him tonight.  My pick tonight is Spurs 101 Heat 97.

Raymond “Big Play” Miller

@bprunsportsmenm

This will be easy.  Basically the Heat BIG THREE out played the Spurs big three.  Even Spoelstra out coached Popovich for stints during the game while the game was close. What did Spoelstra do?  First he forced Popovich to go to a small line up, this is effective because one it allows LeBron to play the 4 (complete mismatch for whoever has to check him.  If its Splitter LeBron steps out on the wing, it was Leonard he got put in the post), but the most important thing going small did was allow the Heat to have an advantage on the boards.  The Heat out rebounded the Spurs in this game.

Spoelstra also noticed that the Heat were getting good looks in Game 1, but didn’t take great advantage of it.  Enter sharpshooters (Miller, Allen, and even Cole has been effective from 3) and exit no legs Wade.  Great adjustment, and the scary part is Popovich is still not pulling the trigger on a no game remaining Manu Ginobli.

Turnovers Turnovers and Turnovers…  4 in Game 1 and the Spurs had 4 in the first quarter and 6 in the 35-5 run the Heat went on.  No one expected to see the Spurs to repeat the amazing 4 turnover stat from Game 1, but you can’t have 17 turnovers and win.  Hell the Pacers, who play better defense than the Spurs, couldn’t win with 16 turnovers, so the Spurs had no chance.

Last moment of note in Game 2 (not the overrated block on Splitter), the way the Heat defended the pick, screen, and roll with Tony Parker.  They flashed high and trapped on Parker and help defense stopped the cutter from getting a the ball in the paint for a high percentage shot.  That is why the Spurs got some great 3 point looks in the first half.  The shots they missed in Game 1 they made in Game 2.

Overall this was a great first half, but a terrible second half for fandom and the Spurs.  The Heat got their legs back (still don’t buy the tired thing, if they were tired Gatorade and Powerade need to get their money back from Wade and James), and were able to force the Spurs into silly turnovers.  I mentioned in the “Outside the Box Predictions” for the series that Spoelstra has to out coach Popovich.  Well Spoelstra did it in Game 2, and the Heat weakness in Rebounding was a strength in Game 2.  May we see a Blair in Game 3 to combat the small line up and give some physical play?  Another “Outside the Box Prediction”.  We will see, here’s to a competitive Game 3!

Jason “Big J” Allen

@UnsportsmenBigJ

I’ve taken my talents to South Beach; Boom Boom Room is shut down for the week.  I’m in wet willies drinking.  Someone call me a cab, but I’m definitely in my zone and so is Tony Parker if the Heat keeps leaving Cole and Chalmers on him.  For those who think Erik Spoelstra can’t coach give the man credit for adjustments made after his team loses a game, especially a game 1.  After losing Game 1 to OKC in last years Finals Heat won 4 straight; after losing games in this years playoffs the Heat have not only won the next game after that but some of them have been blowouts.  Why do you think Pop’s been praising LBJ and questioning the medias basketball IQ?  Meanwhile having his Spurs interns digging up dirt on Gloria (LeBron’s mama). Popovich knows in the Finals you don’t win most games shooting 43% from the field and 32% from 3 and only having 4 turnovers again is highly unlikely.  

Honestly, I feel like the Heat should establish Bosh down low and try to draw fouls on Duncan and Splitter; moreover, putting LBJ on Parker starting the 2nd half would make some sense. LeBron gonna do what he do and play his game and getting teammates involved early.  The other side of this is LBJ may have to take the game over if Wade isn’t more consistent. Bottom line Heat win tonight 95-85.

Raymond “Big Play” Miller

@bprunsportsmenm

It’s the NBA Finals and unless you are living under a rock we all know this series should and will be a Great ONE!  Is Duncan going to match Kobe in rings, and make an argument for having the best Dynasty of this Era (Move over Lakers).  Will the King get revenge on the Spurs sweeping him when he was just a Prince?  Either way this is a career finishing, or defining moment for whoever wins this series.  So I decided to go around what the experts are saying and see if I can pull some points that both teams would need to win.

Spurs ways to win:

Rebounding

The Spurs are a good rebounding team, and they will have to keep that trend up, because we all know the Heat are a lackluster rebounding team (looking at you Bosh).  Along with rebounding they have to revel in the aggressive play in the paint.  The Heat should be coming in a bit beaten and battered so continue the process and hope by Game 6 or 7 the Heat run out of fuel.

Make LeBron a scorer

We saw when LeBron has to carry the SCORING load aka go back to his Cleveland days, the Heat fall apart.  Yes make LeBron become Carmelo Anthony, no teammates involved and dribble, dribble, dribble.  The Spurs should be used to this blueprint, because they used it to sweep the Cavs in the Finals years ago.

Manu, Manu, Manu get off the Milk Carton

This one is easy, the Spurs need Manu to be Great, not good, but GREAT.  These playoffs Manu has shown up in sprinkles, yet this series that will not do.  If Manu can outperform Wade in this series, the Spurs will win.  Remember James and Parker will be a wash, Tim Duncan will basically make Bosh a wash so you need Manu to out perform Wade.  In Game 7 I feel the Heat rediscovered who they are and will bring in a more aggressive Wade, so Manu needs to do what he does best. Score, and frustrate opponents.

Heat Need To Win

Spoelstra needs to out coach Pop, or Better turn into Pat Reily

Erik Spoelstra has to show that he is “THE COACH” in this series.  He can not be out coached like he was in the Bulls and Pacers series.  Why?  Well the Spurs are a way better and polished team then the Pacers and Bulls.  They will take advantage of the bad coaching and bad positioning.  Spoelstra also needs to tap into his inner Reily, and promote strong paint defense, and rebounding.  Remember Reily’s saying “No Rebounding= No Rings”  Spoelstra has to live in that saying and get the Heat to buy in.

Heat Bench has to outplay Spurs bench

The Heat bench was M.I.A. (no pun) for most of the Pacers series, to bad the Pacers didn’t have a strong enough bench to take advantage.  Well the Spurs do, hell Pop benched his starters against the Warriors and the Spurs benched sparked a come back.  So I’m looking directly at you Ray Allen, Shane Battier, Norris Cole, and “Birdman Birdman” (thank you Shaq) Chris Anderson.  These guys have to out perform the Spurs bench and add an element to help the starters to get rest.  If LeBron has to play 44+ minutes a game in this series we will see a repeat of the Mavs vs Heat Finals when LeBron had nothing left in the tank.

Don’t make a Star out of a Non Big Three for the Spurs

What I mean by this, is we expect Duncan, Parker, and possibly Manu to go off and ball out.  At the end of the Finals if we are talking about the great performance of a Leonard, Splitter, Neal, Blair, or Bonner.  Don’t allow any of these player sot make a big four, or play well enough on defense to make on of the Heat big three disappear.  If I had to choose I would say be careful with Blair….  (that’s me letting everyone get all the laughing out)…  (you probably just looked up his numbers and realized he has rarely played in this series)…  (and now do you have control of yourself?  Good I will continue).  Blair has the body and aggressive post play that he can actually contribute in this series.  The Heat have shown they can’t deal with post players that can bang.  So again Heat don’t allow a Big Four to emerge for a Series.

Now these points are outside the box points that I think each team needs to win.  I reserve the right to switch up after each game.  What do you think of my outside the box points?

Jason “Big J” Allen

@UnsportsmenBigJ

 

 

So it is easy to look back in hindsight and say what someone should have done, but what the Pacers should have done was win Game 1.  Why??? Not because the Pacers could have taken a 1-0 lead, not because the Pacers get the home court back (they did win Game 2 so they got the home court back), and not to show the Heat who’s boss.  They needed to win Game 1 because they would have had the adjustment advantage for Game 7.

We can all agree that Frank Vogel out coached Erik Spoelstra whole series, but Spoelstra didn’t have to be perfect to win, he just needed to be able to respond to every aggressive chess move that Vogel made.  Vogel had the whole sporting community confused and actually thinking the Pacers were a better team than the Heat.  Ladies and Gentlemen let me assure you that the Heat were and are the better team in this series, but because of the extreme out coaching of Spoelstra, the Pacers looked like a Championship ready team.  Look at the line up man for man:

Starting PG

Hill

Chalmers

Pacers

Starting SG

Stephenson

Wade

Heat

Starting PF

West

Bosh

Tie

Starting C

Hibbert

Haslem/Bosh

Pacers

Frontcourt Bench

Hansbrough/Mahimi/ etc

Battier/Anderson/

Heat

Backcourt Bench

Augustin/ Green

Cole/Allen

Heat

Best player on team

George

James

Heat

You may not totally agree with who I said is better after watching the series but pound for pound Wade is better than Stephenson (watch Game 7 if you don’t believe), West and Bosh is a tie, Bosh averaged 18pts and 8reb in the regular season West averaged 15pt and 7rebs again a wash.  The Heat have the better superstar and the better bench.  So Heat won 4 out of 7 categories, and what closed the gap was Frank Vogel’s coaching.

Vogel did make a questionable coaching decision at the end of Game 1, and that cost him the series.  The whole series went tit for tat, and every time Vogel implemented a game plan sto stop whatever the Heat did he won, but by the time they reached game 7 it was Spoelstra’s turn, and Vogel didn’t have the luxury of adjusting a game plan.  Imagine if Vogel would have changed his Game 6 strategy going into Game 7 and the same outcome happened, in Game 7 (blow out).  We would have killed him for changing his plan from what worked in Game 6.  Instead Spoelstra had the luxury of going into Game 7 knowing what Vogel had planned.  So imagine if the Pacers won Game 1, then Heat adjust win Game 2, the Pacers adjust win Game 3, Heat adjust  win Game 4, eventually that would led to a Game 7 with Vogel having the adjustment advantage.

Now I don’t want to totally throw Spoelstra under the bus, because he made great adjustments for Game 7.  He took Wade off George and let James guard him the whole game (George fouled out and only had 7pts).  He also made the early offensive game plan to get Wade and Bosh involved because we all know James can get his whenever.  Getting Wade and Bosh involved early helped them be more active on the defensive end.   Another great strategy change was the Heat trapping and pressuring the ball handler.  This is great because the Pacers are not great ball handlers as a team, it slowed down their offensive sets so they didn’t have the whole shot clock to pound the ball down low, and lastly it allowed the smaller Heat post defenders to fight their way out of bad post positions.  Another great coaching adjustment for the Heat was immediately double teaming the ball in the post.  They never really let West and especially Hibbert get the ball in man to man situations, if you can find a major fault in Hibberts game besides inconsistency it would be that Hibbert is not a good passer out of the post, so he couldn’t take advantage of the double teams.  So again Spoelstra did his homework and came out with a game plan that led to a complete blow out in Game 7.

Going back to the main point if the Pacers win Game 1, all these adjustments for the Heat would have been in Game 6 and then the ball (no pun) would have been in Vogel’s court and we have seen that when he has the ball or plan on his side the Pacers typically get the victory.  Let’s be honest we really didn’t want to see the Spurs vs Pacers, everyone just wanted to see LeBron and the Heat lose.  So for the Haters enjoy the Finals, because you’re actually going to watch the Finals.  If Vogel manhandled Spoelstra like this, wait til he gets a load of Pop!

Jason “Big J” Allen

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