Friday, May 13, 2011

Spoelstra Survives

Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra made it past the second round and did it quite easily thanks in part to some fortuitous injuries to key members of the Boston Celtics.

I was critical of him heading into the second round for a few reasons that I didn't fully detail at the time.

My main problem with Spoelstra's coaching is that it looks like he is letting Tom Haberstroh and the guys at Heat Index coach the Miami Heat.

Haberstroh has been critical of Miami's starting five.

He planted the seed about Miami's starting lineup featuring Mike Bibby and Zydrunas Ilgauskas near the end of the regular season and started beating the drum during the Philadelphia series.

The next thing you know, Bibby and Ilgauskas were benched four minutes into Game 5 against Philadelphia, never to return.

All of a sudden, Bibby and Ilgauskas were Siamese twins, linked in a joint performance where their value couldn't be determined individually but only in concert with one another.

Spoelstra didn't take the time to see which one was the problem.

He reacted quickly and benched both in what looked like a move to appease his critics more than anything else.

But it turns out Haberstroh hadn't done his full research.

The Bibby-gauskas twins weren't the problem at all; it was Ilgauskas alone. And Haberstroh had some more numbers to back it up.

It so happened that Miami was lethal when Mike Bibby and Joel Anthony played together with Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh, even against Philadelphia and going back to the regular season.

In there was this astonishing statistical nugget: That unit had played only nine minutes together against Philadelphia and only 35 minutes together during the season.

Haberstroh released this story before the Miami series against Boston.

Four games into the series, Spoelstra was reacting again, this time removing Ilgauskas from the starting lineup in favor of Anthony.

There are two problems here, the incomplete information it looked like Spoelstra reacted to the first time and the fact that he had a strong lineup which he hadn't yet discovered.

Isn't Erik Spoelstra the coach of the Miami Heat?

Shouldn't he know who his best units and players are without me (see Joel Anthony) or someone else having to tell him?

Isn't that what he is paid for?

And how is he going to lead a team to a championship when he can't filter good information from bad in making the best decisions for his team?

Every team Miami faces isn't going to be as small as Philadelphia or as injury-riddled as Boston. At some point Spoelstra is going to have to win some games against some legitimate competition.

And when that time comes, I'm still not sure that he'll be able to get it done.

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