Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens met with reporters, via Zoom, to discuss several issues on the eve of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals (8:30 p.m. Friday, ESPN).
Miami leads the series, 3-1, and is one win away from the franchise’s sixth trip to an NBA Finals.
What the coaches said in their media briefing:
▪ Spoelstra said Bam Adebayo — who re-aggravated an arm injury in Game 4 — “will be ready to go” in Game 5. Asked the specific body part injured, Spoelstra said “a little bit of everything.”
The Heat watched tape but did not have a full-fledged practice on Thursday. Spoelstra said Adebayo was a full participant. “He was able to work extremely intensely in our film session,” Spoelstra cracked.
Asked if any medical tests were needed on Adebayo, Spoelstra said: “A lot of ice.”
Adebayo appeared to re-aggravate the injury late in Game 4, when he and Celtics forward Jayson Tatum got tangled up, and Adebayo had to pull away his left wrist.
As for Thursday’s Heat session, “we stuck with our routine, watched film,” Spoelstra said. “Everybody got the treatment, rest. Today is another day for rest and recovery. Everybody knows what to expect for tomorrow.”
▪ Spoelstra, on Tyler Herro, after his 37-point game: “It makes you recognize he is uncommon. He puts in a great deal of work and he’s coachable. Pre-practice group, he was in there before the head coach [Thursday], putting in his work. This is who he’s been all year long.”
▪ Spoelstra wasn’t concerned about going only eight-deep in Game 4 because “our guys are in great shape.”
One of the eight Heat players used — Solomon Hill — played only four minutes.
“Solo has been really putting in the time,” Spoelstra said. “You can see he’s transformed his body, great shape, a veteran, been in a lot of these experiences before.”
But Spoelstra cautioned that the Game 5 bench rotation ”might be a little bit different.”
Derrick Jones Jr., Kendrick Nunn and Kelly Olynyk did not play in Game 4.
▪ Spoelstra said Game 5 will be “two extremely desperate, urgent teams.”
▪ On the Heat’s use of the zone, Spoelstra said: “It looked ridiculously bad in Game 3. We used it more last night. We’ll see how it looks in Game 5. We’re not throwing it out there not having used it during the series.”
▪ On his meeting in May 2019 with Nova Southeastern Coach Jim Crutchfield — something we exclusively reported at the time — Spoelstra said: “We decided to give him a call and see if he wanted to talk shop. He was really accommodating. Terrific coach, super nice guy. We talked shop for five, six hours. It was a lot of fun.”
▪ Asked why the Heat is well-constructed to play in a bubble, Spoelstra said: “I think you need some level of discipline and routine and mental toughness for this whole life experience. Those things could help in a scenario like this.”
▪ Spoelstra, asked about his first meeting with Jimmy Butler in free agency: “As far as the first meeting, it was great. It felt like we were speaking the same language. We have the same shared values about competition. It works for us. We don’t have to apologize for it. Times he’s been criticized for it, who cares? Just really grateful we got him.”
▪ Stevens on the Heat: “They’ve got so many good players. I think the stat of them having a different leading scorer or not having the same leading scorer for consecutive games with the exception of once in the last 10 or 11 games is appropriate for their team. They can all really go.
“Yesterday, Herro got going obviously at a ridiculous level. He’s very capable of that. I think that the more you watch them and the more you see them up close -- Herro, [Goran] Dragic, [Duncan] Robinson, [Jae] Crowder, those guys can all go around Butler and Adebayo. Butler and Adebayo do a great job of providing actions and getting guys going. I think that’s a strength of their team and they do a great job with that.”
▪ Stevens said facing elimination is nothing new for the Celtics, which won a Game 7 against the Toronto Raptors in the second round of the playoffs.
“It’s not ideal by any means,” Stevens noted, “but the bottom line is that you have to play one game to win that game and then if you’re able to do that, you get another opportunity. Our focus is only going to be on tomorrow night.”
▪ Stevens said the Celtics simply need to play better in Game 5, but added that “we still had our chances [in Game 4], but they made the huge plays. Then the turnovers were obviously very costly.”
The Celtics led by one with 8:51 to play Wednesday, but the Heat quickly took the lead back 16 seconds later and never trailed again.
▪ Miami overcame subpar shooting numbers in Game 4 (42.9 percent from the field and 27 percent on threes) with the help of nine more shot attempts than Boston. That advantage came because the Heat committed just eight turnovers to the Celtics’ 19 turnovers on Wednesday.
“I believe that if we put forth our best effort and we are locked in on what we need and we play with great authority and confidence, then we can win any given game,” Stevens said. “That’s what you have to go into any game with. You don’t play the score of the series, as much as you play the importance of each possession. I think that’s the bottom line: We have to play each possession with the utmost importance tomorrow night.”