Dwyane Wade and Erik Spoelstra Believe Early Season Struggles Helped Miami Heat
After a long regular season that included enormous amounts of hate and ridicule, the Miami Heat have reached the NBA Finals. It was an enduring and humbling journey for Miami, especially if you look back at their gaudy team introductions for their first home game of the season. They started off slowly and looked foolish when Chris Bosh admitted he was lost in the offense. Opposing owners celebrated their early-season struggles. They were widely mocked for crying following a March loss. But now we’re starting to see that all those issues helped lead them to become a Finals-bound team. At least that’s what Dwyane Wade and Erik Spoelstra say.
After the Game 5 close out win, Dwyane Wade said the early-season struggles helped build the team. “Right off the bat, beginning of the year, starting off 9-8, we all said in the locker room ‘We start off 17-0, 16-1, that’s not the best thing for this team.’ We needed to go through something, we needed to look ourselves in the mirror and see if we were really committed to this,” Wade explained. “After that 9-8 start, we showed we were committed to it and ever since then we’ve been fighting it out.”
Coach Erik Spoelstra expressed the same sentiment in his postgame press conference.
“It’s quite well documented during the regular season we struggled in close games,” Spoelstra admitted. “The reality is we had to go through a process. We’ve been saying that since the beginning of the year. We had a team of nine new players, a lot of new components, we were trying to build a team philosophy, a defensive system, and work on building a half-court system where the guys felt comfortable. We had to go through a lot of adversities. That struggle that we went through in March where we lost five straight — all of them close games where we didn’t execute down the stretch and weren’t able to close games out — that helped us. As painful as that was, we had to go through that fire together to gain confidence where we could be successful now in the postseason.”
Going through early-season struggles isn’t necessarily the best way to develop into a top-level team, but it’s worked for Miami. If you look back at the ’08 Celtics that had just come together in the offseason, they started off the year 20-2 and went wire-to-wire as the best team in the NBA. Successful teams don’t have to endure struggles in order to begin winning, but for the Miami Heat, it’s clearly been part of their overall development.