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NBA FINALS: HEAT v THUNDER


June 19, 2012


Erik Spoelstra


MIAMI, FLORIDA: Game Four

Oklahoma City Thunder - 98
Miami Heat - 104


COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:テつ Four or five plays.テつ That's what this series is coming down to.テつ That's what this game came down to.テつ This is incredibly competitive on both sides, and there's not much of a margin for error either way, and it's a lot of the things and intangibles in between.
LeBron had cramps.テつ We talked about it ‑‑ in his leg.テつ We talked about it before the game, that you had to play with an intensity that you had nothing left by the end of the game, and he did.テつ He was playing at an incredible pace and intensity level.テつ It was warm in the building.テつ I think you guys probably felt that.テつ And he just had some cramps there at the end.

Q.テつ Westbrook got off to such a hot start.テつ What were you telling your guys as far as slowing him down and making sure he didn't‑‑
COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:テつ Sprint back, get in front of his way, and that's one heck of a whole lot easier said than done.テつ He's playing at warp speed.テつ You have to get bodies in front of him early.テつ If you're not early, he's just going right by you.テつ He was tremendous tonight.

Q.テつ There's been a lot of times this year LeBron has sort of been what Westbrook was and he would do it single‑handedly.テつ How important was it for you guys that there was such balance, that even when LeBron was approaching the triple‑double there was Mario, Dwyane, Chris doing his part?テつ Do you need that all‑around game when Westbrook is going off like that?
COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:テつ Whatever it takes at this point, by any means necessary.テつ Guys are stepping up and giving us whatever they have.テつ You have to give credit to this opponent.テつ I mean, this is competition at its fiercest.テつ They are a very good defensive team.テつ They cover ground.テつ Everybody needs to be a live option, and that's what we had tonight.

Q.テつ How much talk in the room was about the things that you always talk about and not spending the next 48 hours obsessing over the fact that you're one win away from this thing?
COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:テつ No, we're excited about the opportunity to have a chance to play for it.テつ But we know at the same time that we have to stay the course, and there'll be an incredible amount of noise on the outside, and we have to focus in on staying in the moment.テつ We've had a good deal of experience doing that.テつ I think we'll be able to stick to each other and focus on what we need to do to get to the next game.テつ We're going to have to really fight and earn this.

Q.テつ Just talk about when LeBron came back in, hit the three‑pointer and the lay‑up, how gritty and gutty that was.テつ And what eventually happened that he had to leave the game?テつ Did the cramps just get worse?
COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:テつ They didn't really go away.テつ At that point he was just trying to will his body to get in there and make something happen.テつ That three was just sheer will and competitiveness, to contribute in some way.テつ But it got to a point that it was four‑on‑five, so we had to make a change.
He wanted to go back in, but it was obvious that he was going to hurt us if we kept him out there.

Q.テつ Mario has had sort of an explosive scoring game like this before by his standards, but this wasn't so much just the outside shot, he was driving a little bit, got to the foul line.テつ Was there anything he saw out there, who was on him, that might have encouraged him to do that?
COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:テつ Well, the last couple games he's had some open, clean looks and hasn't been able to knock those down.テつ We all told him the last two days that he'll get those opportunities again and to step up with confidence.テつ We're all behind you, make or miss.テつ But to be aggressive.テつ Throw all your stuff out there, and we need another option, and to be a live option, not just somebody just to space the floor.

Q.テつ It couldn't have been hard to convince him of that?
COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:テつ I mean, that kid is not afraid of any moment.テつ We all know that.テつ He's a gutsy kid.

Q.テつ Following up on that, when you guys signed Mario last year, one of the reasons you said you signed him and gave him some money is because you felt he was a proven player in the Playoffs.テつ What about him has made that successful in the past and then tonight?
COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:テつ He's a gamer.テつ He's a gamer.テつ He's got guts.テつ You can't quantify that.テつ You can't measure it.テつ You can't necessarily evaluate that with a kid that you're drafting.テつ But he obviously had a big moment in college.テつ But he's done it time and time again in big games in college, big games in the pros.テつ He's not afraid of the moment.テつ You can't teach that.
You know, he gave us a lift tonight we really needed.テつ We needed another guy that could make some plays for us.

Q.テつ When LeBron came back in that game, for NBA historians, you were thinking of Willis Reed, thinking of great moments.テつ Did you feel you were watching something special when he hit that three‑pointer so gimpy?テつ Did you think that this was the ultimate in LeBron's‑‑
COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA: テつWe've been through a lot as a group, and because of this journey that we've been on, and a lot of the adversities that we've even faced this year, getting knocked down to the canvas, we've all gotten to the point that whatever it takes.テつ It might not be textbook, it might not be the exact way we want to, just contribute and help make it happen.テつ And like I said, that's his sheer will and competitiveness to make a play when he really wasn't physically able to be out there.

Q.テつ This is kind of a chess game, it goes through each night, you guys sort of make plays and try to get results.テつ How do you manage to take James Harden out of the equation?テつ Because he's not producing offensively, and they sure need him.
COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:テつ I don't really want to hear that.テつ He's an explosive player.テつ We have a great deal of respect.テつ What James Harden deserves is the respect of our full attention, the kitchen sink of our defense, everybody trying to disrupt, and then hopefully you get him to miss.テつ But you know what, this is a make or miss league.テつ He's missed some open looks that he normally makes, and we just have to continue to try to grind and apply pressure defensively.テつ We're definitely going to have to try to turn that up a notch the next game.

Q.テつ Cole sparked that 10‑0 run in the beginning of the second half.テつ Can you just explain how you keep him ready.
COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:テつ He keeps himself ready.テつ I love that kid, and when I took him out of the rotation at the end of the year, my staff asked me in a meeting, are you concerned that maybe it'll affect his confidence?テつ And I said, not at all.テつ This is a move we had to make at the end of the year to tighten up our rotation.テつ But I said, he's got the toughness and the purity that when he gets his number called upon, he will have himself ready.テつ And these minutes aren't big minutes.テつ Even when he didn't score in the other games, those have been important minutes, three or four minutes of a burst to give these guys.
But he's aggressive.テつ He's a little bit similar to Mario in terms of he's fearless, absolutely fearless.

Q.テつ Even though Russell Westbrook was as good as he was tonight, would you still rather him taking 13 more shots than Kevin Durant?
COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:テつ If you're sitting in my seat, no.テつ He's a great player.テつ They're both great players.テつ He was trying to will his team to a win.テつ You have to respect that fierceness.テつ He brought it tonight.テつ And we're going to have to do something to make sure that we do a better job of defending him.テつ He was terrific.

Q.テつ Can you just take us through the first period, you the guys getting down by 17 points‑‑
COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA:テつ It wasn't a matter of not wanting and not bringing it.テつ Our guys were ready.テつ We missed some chippies, missed some ones we normally make, and they came out with an incredible velocity to start that game, got us on our heels, speed, athleticism, extra possessions, loose balls, and so we had to really get our hands dirty from there.テつ But that's the way this series has been. テつIt's a lot of speed and a lot of competitiveness.テつ Hopefully we get off to a better start Thursday night.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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