After dominating the first half of the 2011/12 NBA season, the Miami Heat ran into some problems, particularly on the road.
Since the All-Star break, the Heat have only won four of their eleven road games. They were horrific in the last outing against the Boston Celtics, seemingly giving up when things got tough.
With the Heat's current troubles on the road, many are now wondering if coach Erik Spoelstra is the right man for the job. Spoelstra did give Heat fans a few reasons to question his coaching abilities during the 2011 NBA finals, and the team's recent struggles are reawakening those old thoughts.
Spoelstra is certainly feeling the pressure, and he's already trying to rein his players in, holding an extended practice session on April 2.
"Yesterday was unacceptable," Spoelstra told reporters after the Heat's practice session on Monday. "Today, we worked as a group to fix it. … They blew us off their court. There's no 'ifs,' 'ands' or 'buts' about it. Every facet of the game, they out-competed and out-played us. … As everybody knows and is on everybody's scouting report, so much of our energy is generated from our activity and confidence from defense. We're an ignitable group, we understand that, but it takes a big commitment to play at our necessary energy level."
Spoelstra is certainly spot on, attributing the Heat's road struggles to their poor defense. In the first half of the season, the Heat were a high tempo team, primarily relying on their defense to create fast-break opportunities.
The poor play of Miami's role players has also been a factor contributing to their poor play, and Spoelstra needs to take responsibility for that. Given the talent the Heat have on their roster, there is no excuse for the low numbers they've been putting up lately. Spoelstra needs to find better ways of motivating the bench to put up the type of numbers we all know they're capable of.
If the Heat played this badly early on in the season, I would have been fine with replacing Spoelstra. However, given the fact there's only a month left in the 2011/12 NBA regular season, it's probably best to keep him there.
Tom Haberstroh, "Amid slump, Heat hold extended practice"
Player and game information from ESPN.com
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