Miami Heat to Play More ‘Spursy’ Offense


After being decimated by the San Antonio Spurs in the team’s last appearance in the NBA Finals, the Miami Heat will do its best to learn from the team that beat them. And just because LeBron James is gone, doesn’t mean the expectations to compete are.

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The Heat cannot replace LeBron, but they can improve the framework in which the team operates in order to try to quell the impact of his departure. That begins with Erik Spoelstra.

In a must-read feature by Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated describes how Spoelstra will do that.

"They are just a basketball team again. But unlike so many organizations that implode when they lose a transformational figure—the Bulls with Michael Jordan, the Lakers with Shaquille O’Neal, the Cavs with James—the Heat have stuck together, all that dried blood serving as adhesive. Wade re-signed, Chris Bosh spurned a maximum contract offer from the Rockets, and free-agent small forward Luol Deng chose Miami over a bevy of suitors. “How do you plug the biggest hole ever?” Fizdale asks. “How do you fill that crater? If the Spurs showed us anything [in the Finals], you fill it with teamwork and strategy and system and culture.”Spoelstra ached over [James’] announcement on July 11, but by nightfall he was starting to reimagine the Heat offense—still heavy on pick-and-rolls but balanced by more Spursy cuts and handoffs. “They won’t be what they were,” says one NBA head coach, “but they could still be top three or four in the East.” Think of a conference semifinal with Cleveland."

As the team degenerated around LeBron last season, the team relied on him more and more. It’s one reason why the Heat lost in the Finals, and a big reason why LeBron left.

Dwyane Wade’s knees failed him in the last few games of the season, neither Shane Battier nor Rashard Lewis could keep up with the Spurs’ ball movement, Mario Chalmers couldn’t get out of his own way and Chris Bosh wasn’t in a position (after years of being the third option in a system that used him as a decoy) to save the team.

It turned into a lot of LeBron isolations, and surely memories of his time in Cleveland when he had no help.

Spoelstra and the Heat will learn from that lesson, even without LeBron, and strive to play more team-oriented basketball like they did in the 2012-13 season. With a moderate influx of youth, it should help. And Spoelstra having a model to mold his team after should help, too.