The Miami Heat enter tonight’s matchup in Chicago with the second-longest win streak in NBA history, but head coach Erik Spoelstra said that won’t change his team’s focus as they square off against the Bulls.
The Heat haven’t lost since Feb. 1, reeling off 27 straight wins in the process and moving to the head of the class in the NBA, both in record and momentum. The process has been a daily one, with Spoelstra reiterating to his team that staying within the course of their own game and rhythm is what will give them not necessarily wins, but rather a better opportunity to come out on top every night.
“We didn’t talk about winning,” Spoelstra said. “We talked about doing the things necessary to put ourselves in a position to win. And then this just happens. It was a byproduct of a lot of different things of focus, commitment and luck.
“You honor that by living in the moment and tonight our focus is only focusing on an absolute cage-fight mentality. It doesn’t matter who’s playing on either side.”
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One look at the Heat locker room and one wouldn’t know the team has all but wrapped up the top spot in the Eastern Conference and is preparing to take on a Bulls team without two of its normal starters (Joakim Noah and Marco Belinelli)—three if counting point guard Derrick Rose.
Spoelstra said because of the experiences each player now on the current roster has struggled through in his individual career has humbled their mentality on the current run, and gave them perspective on how quick the highs of a 27-game win streak can disappear if they look too far ahead.
“Things are very fragile in this league. Nothing is guaranteed,” he said. “Our future is not guaranteed, even in this postseason we’re just trying to make the most of these opportunities.”
The story is always on Wade and LeBron James, and most of the team’s successes have come at the hands of the two All-Stars. But part of what has made Miami so special over the last month and a half, and especially the last two games without Wade, is both the sacrifices his players have made and their aggressiveness in grasping opportunities when they arise.
When Wade re-signed with the Heat two summers ago and brought James and Chris Bosh along with him on near maximum contracts, building around those three was going to mean tight financial restrictions. With a core of players who Spoelstra said could have gone anywhere else and had a larger, more significant role, combining with the play of the MVP frontrunner James, has made such a run possible.
"Virtually everybody on our roster had to suffer something financially, and in today’s day in age you just don’t see that very often," Spoelstra said. "And you can argue how much it is, whether that means a lot to them or not, it doesn’t matter. You just don’t see players putting money on the table.
"And I would say, save for LeBron, virtually everybody else on our roster, in a perfect world, would have a bigger role. But they sacrificed to make this thing happen to sacrifice less minutes or less opportunities or less shots, whatever it may be. But all the guys have done that and I think that’s pretty remarkable.”