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May 29, 2022

Erik Spoelstra

Miami Heat

Game 7: Postgame

Celtics 100, Heat 96

Q. I know it's hard right now, but can you sum up a night and sum up a little bit of a season as well, please?

ERIK SPOELSTRA: Yeah, it's just one of those really tough moments. You can't prepare for it. You're not thinking about it. It's one of the worst feelings in the world to address your locker room after a game like this. When it ends, it ends in a thud. I have just so much incredible respect and love for everybody in the locker room and what everybody gave to this team.

We had such a memorable season and postseason. It felt like five seasons in one, all the different chapters and adversity that this group was able to overcome. It was a really fun group to be around. It was a hard-edged group. It's all the quality that we love, the good, the bad and everything in between. It's heartbreaking when it ends like this.

You know, you certainly have to credit the Boston Celtics organization and their team and their coaching staff. Ime just did a tremendous job this year building on what they have done the last six, seven years. And they have probably done it the way that it's supposed to happen in this league. You build a team and you have frustrating losses. You stay together, keep your core together, keep your culture together and then you eventually find a breakthrough.

We tip our hats off to them. They are a heck of a basketball team. They really can defend at a high level. They are competitive and they have two guys that are tremendous, but their role players really fill in the gaps and complement each other very well. Smart was terrific tonight. We really tip our hats to them. This was all about competition and we faced a team that matches the best qualities of what we do. It was fitting that it would probably come down to that last possession.

While I continue to ramble, I thought it would have been an incredible storyline for Jimmy to pull up and hit that three. I love that about Jimmy. That was the right look, and I just thought as it was leaving his hand, I thought for sure that was going down. It was a good, clean look, definitely better than anything we could have designed. It was a shame it didn't end that way, but I can't compliment Boston enough. They have gone through the fire and they earned that right to go to the Finals.

Q. Have you seen the replay yet on the Max Strus overturned three?

ERIK SPOELSTRA: I didn't. I was in shock. I was asking (Chris Quinn) about that. The fact that it happened, three to four, five minutes in game time, that does change the context of how you're playing. We were starting to gain some momentum. You feel like it's a seven-, eight-point game and you look up and it's a 13-point game, and there's no other explanation for it other than it's gone back to the league offices. You feel like if it happens like that, it should happen immediately and you can adjust accordingly.

Look, that's not the reason we lost. We still had plenty of opportunities. We just couldn't get control of the game. A lot of that was Boston. We didn't stop grinding and we gave ourselves a shot at it at the end. We just couldn't make enough plays during the course of the game. It felt like most of the game we were grinding from an eight- to ten-point deficit.

Q. Jimmy played every second. Was that the plan entering?

ERIK SPOELSTRA: It wasn't. But I was going into this by any means necessary. I have so much freaking respect for the guys in the locker room, and Boston is going through their stuff, too. This is one of the most admirable, honorable series that I've been a part of. Guys that were clearly not anywhere near close to 100 percent on both sides.

You have guys staggering around out there and then there's a loose ball and instincts just take over. It was extremely physical. Really hard-played, well-played at time. Because both teams are so effective defensively, sometimes it was probably ugly to the average fan. But to us, it's beauty.

We had to play Jimmy and Bam. We couldn't afford to take them off the court tonight.

Q. With P.J., he went out early in the third quarter. Was there an injury that kept him from playing the rest of the night?

ERIK SPOELSTRA: Yeah, look, I don't want to speak on behalf of our players. But Tucker, he is a Miami Heat guy. I would say for the majority of this playoff run, he's just been willing himself to get out there and do what he does best.

I marvel -- there's probably five or six times where the trainers had told me, I don't think Tuck is going tonight. And I joked about it with you guys all the time. I couldn't ask him how he was doing and I couldn't ask the trainers in front of him how he was doing. He just has an incredible will inside of him to overcome anything that he may be feeling.

I think if this series could have been, if we had a day in between somewhere, or maybe a couple of those gaps, guys could have recovered a bit more. But both teams were dealing with it. We were dealing with quite a few things as well. It's not an excuse. We got beat. I love the fact that our guys are putting themselves out there. Kyle, whatever minutes he played tonight was way more minutes than he should have played. Same thing for Tyler. Tyler just absolutely made himself available when he really didn't have any practices. If it was the regular season, there was no chance he would have played.

Q. How would you sum up the series that Jimmy just put together?

ERIK SPOELSTRA: It's one of the great performances of an elite competitor. You know, Jimmy has this competitive will that is so unique that is a talent unto itself. There's a lot of basketball players in this league. Jimmy is a great basketball player. He's a world-class competitor and he knows how to win basketball games. That's a talent. And for young players coming into the league, I think that's a missing talent or skill. It becomes about all the other skills. But that's what makes Jimmy so unique as a world-class player. He just knows how to compete to win and to compete to not let you lose. That's an incredible DNA that he has inside of him.

Q. To follow up on the Max shot, you guys don't make excuses on the whole. But would you like to see moving forward the league look at the policy where someone in New York could overturn a play, three or four minutes after it happened?

ERIK SPOELSTRA: I'm sure they will look at that, and we'll probably be the case study for it. I'm okay if it happens the way it used to. They would look at it at the next foul or break and look at it and notice it, but it was probably ten minutes of real time -- somebody check on that.

I'm not crying or whining. Come on, we got beat. This was two competitive teams going at it. We had a crack at it at the end. Even as uneven as the game seemed, we had a crack at it. Our guys are never going to, like, not think we have a chance at it.

But that was so unusual for us to be grinding and then start to get some momentum, and then it was like, oh, hey, by the way, take away that three, with no explanation. That's the human side of it. That's not the complaining side of it. Who knows if that would have changed anything, anyway.

Q. You said if it was the regular season, no chance Tyler would have played. Was it a tough call not playing him in the second half or clear cut because he was limited?

ERIK SPOELSTRA: I felt like in this series I was making decisions that I've never made in my career. I've had that before, also, you know, during those championship runs. We had guys that the day after the season were getting surgeries. So it was very similar.

These last two series, it was a daily meeting with the training staff to get an inventory of where guys were. But these guys were so committed to the challenge that they are willing to do whatever it took to get themselves out there and compete and really compete at a high level physically. It just shows you the mental toughness of the guys in the locker room.

Q. With the offense looking like it was, Bam seemed to try to just brute force it a little bit with Jimmy. What do you think of what you got out of Bam tonight?

ERIK SPOELSTRA: Yeah, I liked his assertiveness. We needed it. It was tough to generate good, clean looks. I think Tyler would have helped in this series, to be able to have another playmaker, a guy that could get into those gaps and make those plays in between that are not necessarily scripted or play call actions. That's part of his greatness.

As we were cycling through, you know, who was available, I thought Bam's assertiveness was vital. It was really important for us to put some pressure on the rim and create some opportunities out of nothing, not out of a play call but just driving and making some plays. That's definitely something he'll be able to build on. He has reinvented himself every offseason. Every year in the last three or four years, he should have been considered most improved player.

Q. I know that the standard in this organization is to go for a championship. When you look back to how this started in training camp, did this team exceed your expectations in some ways?

ERIK SPOELSTRA: It's probably tough for me to answer that right now because of all of the emotions. You know, when it ends like this, it ends with a thud. You're not ever contemplating that I would be speaking in front of you guys talking about the offseason. It just was not even a thought with anybody in the locker room. That's part of the makeup that I love about this group.

So I say, exceeded expectations -- how do I say that without being disrespectful? No, it feels heartbreaking. It feels heartbreaking. We just wanted a crack at it. A crack at Golden State, and just find out, you know, as competitors.

I love this group. This team was here to compete for a title. In that regard, I think we lived up to those expectations. But we fell short. We'll never know, and that's the part that we'll have to live with.

Thank you, I appreciate you all. This year has been a heck of a run with everything and the masks and all that. Just appreciate all of you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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