Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra bristled Thursday when asked about his team’s recent struggles against the Brooklyn Nets.
“I’m not going to concede that,” a visibly annoyed Spoelstra said ahead of the Heat’s 122-115 win over the Nets at Kaseya Center. “This is just competition, we got to figure it out. Whether they think they’ve handled us easily or whatever, I don’t know where that’s coming from…
“They’re a good team,” he continued. “You got to respect that and they play fast, they shoot a lot of 3s, they’re a very good driving team. We do some things we think we do very well, also, and we’ll just figure out who can be the better team tonight.”
Spoelstra was asked a fairly innocuous question by a Brooklyn-based reporter before the game: Regardless of what lineups are out there, what have they done that have caused you guys difficulties in the last several games?
To that point, the Heat had lost five in a row against the Nets, dating back to March 2022.
Before answering, Spoelstra paused, replied “I’m not going to concede that,” furrowed his brow, slapped his forearm, and stared at the reporter before elaborating on his answer.
The Heat went on to win the game behind Jimmy Butler’s 36 points and a teamwide 15 for 35 night from 3-point range. Miami led for the entire second half to get its first win over Brooklyn since March 3, 2022.
The Heat have now won a league-best seven straight to rise to third in the Eastern Conference standings.
This isn’t the first time Spoelstra has been irritated during a press conference. Memorably during last season’s Finals, Spoelstra replied to a question about turning Nikola Jokic into a scorer or passer.
“Yeah, that’s a ridiculous… that’s the untrained eye that says something like that,” Spoelstra said in June.
It’s hard to know when a question will irritate Spoelstra, but it’s clear that he will give no quarter to his opponents even in press conferences. He infamously refuses to divulge information about injuries, strategy, or even starting-lineup decisions ahead of the game, even when that information will be publicly released by the team just minutes later.
After the win, Spoelstra was in a pleasant mood. The Heat will play their next five on road, starting Saturday in Chicago.
“That’s done. That’s over with,” Spoelstra said of Miami’s last 4-0 trip. “That doesn’t guarantee anything moving forward, other than the fact that we’re building some better habits.”