If last night’s Thunder-Heat match up was a sign of major playoff implications or a possible NBA Finals precursor, then I saw it in a very different light.
Erik Spoelstra, the Heat’s Head Coach, needs to be done.
Although he has guided his squad to a 39-14 record this season and second place in the Eastern conference, his personality is not strong enough to contain the players under him.
The Heat desperately need a dynamic personality as head coach that the players simply do not overlook.
Seriously though, just look at their offensive game plan right now.
At the beginning of the season, Spoelstra preached an up-tempo, fast-break offense that was predicated on forcing turnovers and getting out in transition.
He even went to watch an Oregon practice to watch how the Ducks did it in order to install his new offense.
At first, LeBron James and company were all for it — they started the season winning eight of their first nine games and the players bought into Spoelstra’s new technique.
That was until they faced some adversity, and now they sit at 39-14, two games behind Chicago and facing the prospect on entering the playoffs as a two-seed.
Rather than continuing to play under Spoelstra’s offense, the Heat have seemingly changed their plans and played a slower pace.
They rank eighth in fast-break points per game, according to teamrankings.com, but when you take into account their fast-break efficiency, the Heat fall to a pedestrian 16th.
If Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James bought into their head coach’s system, we truly could have seen some spectacular results but they apparently refuse to play in his system.
Therefore, the Heat must make a switch at the end of the bench.
Miami has too much invested in those three players alone to not respect their wishes and make a change.
That would leave a major void, but I predict Spoelstra will ride out the season and then they will make the switch.
There are a couple of coaching candidates that would really make sense for general manager Pat Riley to consider for the position.
The dark-horse pick that makes the most sense is Nate McMillan.
Before you put down this column, just hang on for a bit longer.
He may not be as dynamic as they would like, but he is respected around the league for being a “players’ coach” and many people have only good things to say about McMillan.
Furthermore, McMillan has worked with both James and Wade at the 2006 FIBA World Championship and the 2008 Beijing Olympics, even capturing the gold in the 2008 games.
McMillan could come into a great situation and install his own defensive sets with athletes that could actually run his system.
Another name that could be tossed around is Mike D'Antoni but I really doubt the players would want to play for him.
Look at his exit in New York, where Carmelo Anthony basically forced D’Antoni out, and you can see he is not a good fit for another NBA team.
Regardless, the NBA coaching landscape is a complicated one. Coaches must be experts at balancing egos and catering to superstars.
If they fail to do this, they will find themselves out of a job, which is where I think Spoelstra will be after the season.