Spoelstra Puts Miami Heat on Cruise Control
NBA detractors point to the league’s abundance of playoff teams, lengthy regular season, and deem the first 82 games as nothing more than an extended pre-season. San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has repeatedly drawn the ire of fans, media, and the league office for frequently sitting his star-studded trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili. Erik Spoelstra, coach of the two-time defending champion Miami Heat, has taken the Popovich plan to new heights this season.
Miami is currently second in the Eastern Conference standings, three and a half games behind the Indiana Pacers. Miami is comfortably ahead of the third place Atlanta Hawks. The East is so weak that only four teams are currently over .500, with Toronto just barely qualifying. The aforementioned Atlanta Hawks (22-20) would miss the playoffs entirely if they were in the Western Conference. All signs point to Miami and Indiana set on a collision course in the Eastern Conference finals. The series would be a rematch of last summer’s seven-game series that saw Miami prevail.