As his team finished a second-round series against the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night, then Miami Heat coach Eric Spoelstra announced the next two days of vacation, effectively banning his team from court time. .
When he spoke, it was still uncertain whether Spoelstra could be true to his word, with the possibility, at the time, of the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday afternoon still in play.
With that possibility removed from the equation hours later, there will now be enough time to reach the final round of the playoffs, with the former finals opening Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. at the FTX Arena.
Spoelstra said he felt it was important for his team to savor the moment, with even more significant moves awaited.
“You want to acknowledge the steps along the way,” he said. “It ain’t easy. We’ve been doing it for 27 years, ever since Pat [Riley] Nine conference finals came in South Florida. But every single year we have that goal, to reach it [NBA] Compete for the finals and a title.
“It is not easy in this league. And I just wanted everyone in the locker room to acknowledge that. It is not everything, but it is something. It is a long journey. It is a difficult journey. You have to commit to something that is bigger than yourself. ,
Spoelstra then pauses to note that it is particularly worthwhile reaching such a level to reach such playoff heights, especially as Viktor Oladipo never made it past the first round. has made.
“Take a few days off,” said Spoelstra, “and then we’ll see.”
Forward PJ Tucker mentioned how a team in late December and early January was going to the Heat with G League loanee players amid the COVID outbreak and how many people had to step up amid injuries and absences throughout the season.
“It’s been crazy, this whole crazy year,” he said. “But it’s been a fun year, just because we’ve faced so much adversity throughout the year – people missing so many games, playing with G League players – like we had so many lineups and so many things.
“And to get to this point now to be a top team in the East all year long . . to be in the conference finals is crazy.”
While the Heat held 76 players in six games, it still experienced a grueling series, with point guard Kyle Lowry replaying his hamstring strain from the final two games and seven other Heat players at one point or another. been sidelined. In 11 days listed on the NBA Injury Report. Everyone was available except Lowry for Thursday night’s series-cleaning win at the Wells Fargo Center.
1 seed, the Heat will host Game 1 on Tuesday night and Game 2 on Thursday. If necessary, the Heat will also host Games 5 and 7. All games in the pre-finals are at 8:30 p.m. Eastern.
Tickets for the Heat home games in the series went on sale Friday, with a four-ticket limit per home, per game.
The Heat will face the winner of the Milwaukee Bucks-Boston Celtics Series.
Guard Max Strauss, through all of this, has strengthened the bond of the team.
“We believe in each other,” he said. “A lot of people say that, but our relationship and the trust we have in each other, it’s special. You can tell.
“And it’s not just on court, it’s off. We all really like each other and enjoy each other and love being around each other and being there for each other.” want to work hard.”
Eastern Conference Finals
Game 1: Tuesday, FTX Arena, 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 2: May 19, FTX Arena, 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 3: May 21, in Boston or Milwaukee, 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 4: May 23, in Boston or Milwaukee, 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 5*: May 25: FTX Arena, 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 6*: May 27, in Boston or Milwaukee, 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 7*: May 29: FTX Arena, 8:30 p.m., ESPN
, if necessary.
(No local television at the convention final.)