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May 21, 2023

Erik Spoelstra

Miami Heat

Game 3: Postgame

Miami Heat 128, Boston Celtics 102

Q. Withstanding the other team's best early punch instead of throwing the first, two, three, four punches, what does it say about your team that they can come out against a desperate opponent and make this kind of statement?

ERIK SPOELSTRA: That was a solid, mature, professional approach. You know, there's a lot of pent-up stuff here, and we're getting closer, but you know, we still have to finish this off.

But certainly the approach, and you can tell by just the morning session, how much it means to everybody. But then you have to prove it and do it on the wood. You know, they did, Boston did come out, but we were able to get the game on our terms and sustain it, even through some of the runs in the first half and early in the third quarter.

Q. They sent more doubles at Jimmy today. What did you like about the way you guys handled that and maybe generated open looks?

ERIK SPOELSTRA: Yeah, look, there was one turnover in the first half but we've been dealing with this for a little bit, not just in the postseason. There were a handful of key games going down the stretch where teams were committed to trying to take the ball out of his hands. So that gave us some things to work on during the regular season.

And then we handled it much better after that one turnover. We just got a little bit more organized. The spacing was much better, and then the plays out of the trap, guys were assertive on the catch.

But again, if we didn't have those five games during the regular season, you know, or we came in the next day and we were really working on it, watching film on it, just getting all on the same page about it, it could be different by the time you get to the postseason. Then last series, obviously with New York, they were pretty committed to that.

So at least that was at the front of our mind.

Q. When you talk about the pent-up stuff you just referred to, is that still residual to the regular season, or is that because you're so close to get to go where you want to go?

ERIK SPOELSTRA: You could probably, you know, you could probably fill in the blanks from that, you know. But we have respect, deep respect, for Boston.

Everything that we went through previously, and some of the emotions are coming out, I like that, and then we're just going to direct us and keep on focusing on the task at hand. You know, we'll decompress tomorrow but we'll really get our minds right to finish this thing off.

Q. You've been very consistent since March saying how much you liked the direction the offense is taking, and even if the threes fell tonight, make or miss, what have you liked so much about the offense in the postseason?

ERIK SPOELSTRA: Well, I like just the work during the last three months of the season. It really was all season long but the intention of coming in after really frustrating losses, watching film, working at it, being intentional, getting on the same page, overcommunicating it, this is not working, this is what's working more, and everybody just pouring into that process. You know, those are gratifying experiences. Particularly when, you know, you're losing games, and you're getting criticized for it. But you're still able to just come together and try to get it right.

That doesn't always happen. Sometimes you fall prey to the criticism and it can go sideways, but this group showed a resilience to try to get it right, and some of those tough lessons during the regular season were losing games. Because of that, we were getting from that.

Q. How important has Gabe's pull-up shooting been specifically during this playoff run between the setback threes, coming off the screen?

ERIK SPOELSTRA: Yeah, I'm glad you mentioned that. It's not just the pull-up. It's his assertiveness and aggressiveness, and reading the game. I thought he had as much of an impact and put his fingerprints on the win in Game 2 as he did tonight. One of the games he had four points; another game he had 29. And he has that emotional stability to -- you know, he sees guys like Jimmy and Bam who are the perfect role models, coming in as a young player, it's about impacting winning and sometimes it's about making the right play and doing it on both ends of the court. That's tough to do as a young player because so much is celebrated on just that last number on the box score.

But we do need, since Tyler and Vic are out, we do need Gabe scoring, or I don't want to say that. We need his assertiveness. We need his aggressiveness. We need his putting his eyes on the rim and making the right play and everybody wants him to do that, and same thing with Caleb. We want those guys every single time down the floor to be aggressive. It can't just be Jimmy and Bam.

Now, they are doing the big muscle work but you need a lot of guys contributing, and we all love that non-B version. I've seen that one, and there will be times where we do need that one, when he's non-B, he can be special to.

Q. You've talked over the years about the Duncan-Bam handoff connection, seeing what it's involved with the cutting and all the things you're able to do, what have you seen it evolve into from that original hand-off?

ERIK SPOELSTRA: It's like five years of just Malcolm Gladwell, the 10,000 hour rule; this is 10,000 hours of drilling with those two guys a long time ago, forever. And initially it was all dribble hand-offs, that kind of trigger, and then we needed Bam to be also a scorer. Then we needed Duncan to be able to put the ball on the floor and be able to back-cut and all this stuff and correct that and try to get everybody synergistic, and that takes some time, and both guys are trying to develop new parts of their game.

But this is the constant evolution of two guys trying to get it right, and knowing that there has to be improvement in that two-man action. But when both guys are a threat and both guys can just read the defense and both guys are not just pre-determining, that's when it's at its best.

Q. You talked so much recently about how important the regular season was, and how important playing in all those close games were to get you all to this point. But why is nobody surprised that you all have been able to maintain the level that you have in the postseason?

ERIK SPOELSTRA: I'm not sure, and we don't really care. You know, if people don't want to pay attention to what happened in the regular season, we are not going to make excuses for it. We just had to deal with a lot this year, and that beauty of the struggle of not making excuses for it, not collapsing your spirit because it got tough. There's nothing easy about it, and there could be a beauty in that. You can get better from that. But we never felt that we were far off from where we were last year.

So it is what it is. But this has been one of the most interesting and gratifying regular seasons, I'm not talking about the postseasons, but just to be able to go through that struggle together, and come out of it with a group that was pure of intention and then trying to get better, and then see it play out in the playoffs, that's ultimately what you would love a regular season to do for you.

Q. You mentioned it can't just be Jimmy and Bam. How gratifying is it to see in a game this important that it was Caleb and Gabe and Duncan stepping up the way they did in a game that you knew was going to be very important?

ERIK SPOELSTRA: Yeah, and Jimmy and Bam are both fueling that. They are just infusing those guys with confidence.

In all the moments of truth, Jimmy is going to put his will on the game, and that's what everybody wants from him. And the same thing goes for Bam. The beauty of that relationship is they both know at this point how special and unique that partnership is. You know, as a head coach, I love seeing that. They both see it in each other.

But then they also know that they have to impact everybody else on the roster, and you know, we talk about it all the time. You want to breathe life into other guys, and ultimately enjoy someone else's success, but that takes great emotional stability. You know, there's a lot of pressure and voices and noise coming at you from a lot of different ways.

But those guys, those guys get it. And you're seeing some of the role players really grow and be able to expand their games. That only happens if your star players really want that.

Q. How is Kevin's ankle?

ERIK SPOELSTRA: Yeah, we'll find out. He says he's fine. He was a little bit, like, scared about it. He said he probably could have gone in in the second half, but I just wanted to re-evaluate. We were up 15. I was like, all right, let's make sure we know what's going on. That's where I'm going right now, you know, to meet with the trainers and find out exactly what it is. I don't even know if it's his ankle at this point. He was just -- you know how he is. He's a tough veteran guy. Like he said he was fine, so we'll see tomorrow.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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