The Miami Heat know they can mix it up with the NBA's best this season. Yet they're still not pleased and are far from being satisfied.
Having soundly beaten the Boston Celtics 115-99 at home on Thursday night, it's not hard to tell that Miami will be a major threat to every team they play. Yet, following really close calls against the Toronto Raptors and Denver Nuggets, it's difficult for Erik Spoelstra to feel happy.
“We’re not happy about where we are right now,” the Heat head coach said, via The Athletic in the wake of his team's impressive victory.
Beating the Celtics is hardly any cause for disappointment. After going down 0-3 to much weaker opponents, the Atlanta Hawks, with their last loss coming in the form of a 106-82 embarrassment, however, members of the Heat squad weren't ready to celebrate, despite taking their record to .500 with Thursday's win.
“We got beat fair and square,” Justice Winslow, the team's de facto starting point guard admitted. “I’m more frustrated at the things that we didn’t do that we could’ve done better. We got beat. In this league, you learn how to move on and not really hold onto games. We moved on.”
The Heat led by as much as 26 on Thursday but the Celtics pulled to within eight in the third quarter, something reminiscent of the way things broke down against the Raptors and Nuggets earlier this season.
It took a spark from Dwyane Wade, who dropped 19 points off the bench on the night, to put Miami back on track.
“They went on their run, which we expected,” Spoelstra said. “This team [Boston] doesn’t go away. They’re far too well-coached and too many good players just to go away, even on a back-to-back. You have to expect them to have a response.
“We just settled into some basic offense but Dwyane made some plays, made some shots. That gives your team confidence.”
Charles Barkley on TNT just now: “If you look at the NBA, the Brooklyn Nets, the Clippers and the Miami Heat are the hardest working teams in the NBA.”— Kristian Winfield (@Krisplashed) January 11, 2019
Shaq and Kenny go on to say you look at their talent, but they play hard which is why they’re about .500.
“Guys were just able to deep breath and just calm each other down,” Winslow explained. “We just kept playing. We played through it. There’s going to be times we’re going to be able to get wins and there are times, unfortunately, a team is going to beat us. We’re just going to continue to grow.
"We’ve got a lot of young guys, guys who aren’t as comfortable in these situations as maybe a Dwyane or Goran. Just … getting the experience and we’ll hold onto that.”
The Heat believe they can beat anybody. And who could blame them? They're the grittiest team in the NBA this season and, when they're on it, are extremely difficult to overcome.
“We can play with the best of them,” four-year guard Josh Richardson claims. “I think (against Boston) we withstood a run better than we did those last two games. It was that simple. We just got stops when we needed them. A couple guys got hot for them but we just fought back.”
What This Means
Spoelstra and his men aim to make the playoffs this season and are now in sixth place in the East. Things looked very bleak at one point during the campaign but the coach has gotten everyone to buy into the Heat's culture with the help of Wade and Udonis Haslem.
Unfortunately for Spoelstra, he will be losing both these veterans in the summer as they're walking away from the game at the end of the season, having both played 16 seasons in the NBA.