HomeFilipino AmericanErik Spoelstra leads Miami Heat to NBA Finals

Erik Spoelstra leads Miami Heat to NBA Finals

By Randall Yip, AsAmNews Executive Editor

Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has done the improbable.

He’s led his eighth-seeded Heat to the NBA finals, winning the Eastern Conference championship over the Boston Celtics 4 games to 3.

It’s only the second time in NBA history that an eighth seed has advanced to the NBA Finals. The New York Knicks were the last team to do it in the 1998- 1999 season.

It’s been an up-and-down year for the Heat. The team struggled to even make the playoffs and had to play two play-in games to advance to the first round.

“Life is hard,” Spoelstra said after Monday night’s game. “Pro sports is a reflection that things don’t always go your way.”

The Heat surprised the world by unseating the number 1 seeded Milwaukee Bucks 4 games to 1. They then took down the New York Knicks 4 games to 2 and then won the first three games in the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics.

They seemed to be breezing into the NBA finals, peaking at the right time.

Instead, the Celtics game roaring back by winning the next three games.

It all came down to game 7 for the Heat. To do it, they would have to win it on the road in Boston. They did it easily-winning 103-84.

It was just one year ago when the same Boston Celtics won Game 7 in the Eastern Conference finals to overtake the Heat. Now the same team threatened to do it again.

“What happened last year was on our mind and drove us this year,” said Spoelstra, a two-time NBA championship coach and former co-coach of the year. “Competition can drive you to a higher level.”

With all the momentum gone from the Celtics, what could Spoelstra do to help his team overcome the odds once again?

Center Bam Adebayo says Spoelstra played a 15-minute video prior to the game hoping to inspire his team to victory.

Spoelstra confirmed he did play the video, but said that had nothing to do with the win. He gave all the credit to his players.

“It wasn’t about the video. It’s about an incredible group of men,” he said on ABC in a post-game interview shortly after raising the Eastern Conference championship trophy. Ironically the trophy is named after Boston Celtic great and Hall of Famer Larry Bird.

“Sometimes you have to suffer for the things you want. You have to have the collective spirit.”

The Heat will take on the number 1 seated Western Conference Champions, the Denver Nuggets in the Championship round. Once again, the Heat will go in as the underdogs.

None of that seems to concern Spoelstra.

“We just focused on rallying around each other and the next task,” he said.

He’s confident the Heat can do it once again beginning this Thursday in Denver.

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