What the Heat's inconsistency says about Erik Spoelstra
After Sunday's game, Spoelstra talked about how that emotional volatility can be frustrating to him in December and January when the Heat don't play hard in certain games. Obviously this is true for all teams, but the great leaders in the NBA actively work to nip it in the bud. Do you think Pop would allow his team to give inconsistent effort, even if it were in the middle of December?
Spoelstra is still a young guy. He's worked his way up from video coordinator; he never played in the league or built a reputation that players would respect on its own. I think he's worried that his players won't like him if he gets on them. I think that he is a brilliant basketball mind and should probably be a lead assistant somewhere. But I don't think he has it in him to pull LeBron James aside, look him in the eye and tell him what he needs to hear if he isn't focused.
Remember what happened after LeBron's insane block? James just stood there facing the crowd and basking in the moment before eventually running down the floor and joining the play late. Sure, LeBron ended up making great plays on both ends, but a real leader of a team would never stand for that type of showboating in the middle of a play, even in a blowout.
How much do you want to bet that Spo never chewed LeBron out for that? In the post game press conferences, no one even mentioned it from what I could tell.
The reason why Spoelstra can't control the team's emotions is because LeBron is really the leader of the team, not Spoelstra. When LeBron is hyped, the team gets hyped. When it looks like he's in another world, Spo can do all the diagramming he wants, it won't matter.
This summer, even if the Heat win their second straight title, they have work to do. They need to rebound better, play tougher against physical teams, but most importantly, find an emotional state that they can count on, game in and game out.
I get that this team was built around the individual stars on the roster, but a team takes on the personality of its coach no matter how good the players are. I can't tell for certain if Spo is an elite coach or not, but he clearly doesn't have the personality of one at this point in his career.