Eric Spoelstra had to go ahead with his rotation, as the coach of the Miami Heat, had no choice, no choice.
But even with the decision to leave Markif Morris behind in his opening playoff mix, Spoelstra acknowledges the disparity of it all when it comes to advancing veteran power.
Although it’s rare for Spoelstra to look back, let alone do so during the playoffs, he did so just before Friday night’s Game 3 against the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena, when the team derailed Morris’s season. Discussed the episode of November.
On November 8, after a major late foul by Morris in a Heat blowout road loss, Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic responded with a blind push in the back that was so severe he whipped Morris. Jokic was suspended one game by the NBA. Morris was fined $50,000 by the league for his role, missing the next 58 games, requiring league approval due to the severity of his neck injury.
Through it all, Jokic emerged as a prime candidate for the NBA Most Valuable Player, currently featured in the Nuggets’ tough 0-3 fight against the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the playoffs, Morris’s truly Her season apparently ended before it ended in restart.
“Markief’s story may also have been disappointing,” said Spoelstra, “something that shouldn’t have happened, and it’s only a one-game suspension for him, and he’s lost months.
“It doesn’t make sense, but he has handled it with great grace and class.”
Of course, this was not necessary to reduce the shock to the spectators as the Heat took a 2–0 lead in a best-of-seven Eastern Conference series against the Hawks at the FTX Arena.
“He’s in shape himself and ready and available,” Spoelstra said. “One way or another, he’s going to contribute. He has a great voice in our group.”
Spoelstra compared Morris’ time with the Los Angeles Lakers, including an uneventful role in 2019-20, when he was part of the Lakers’ roster that defeated the Heat in the NBA Finals.
“He was in a similar situation with the Lakers before,” Spoelstra said. “And suddenly, when he was called, he was ready and able to produce.”
Spoelstra’s remarks came when asked about Morris and Victor Oladipo having to spend their time despite the NBA’s restart being worthy of postseason consideration.
“There’s a human side to it,” Spoelstra said. “You have sympathy for what they’ve had to go through.”
In Oladipo’s case, Spoelstra spoke of the guard’s relentless rehabilitation from May quadriceps surgery to his March 7 return, which may ultimately prove to be too late, even with the Orlando Magic on the finale night of the regular season. Even with a 40-point performance against. ,
“I remember going to the locker room last season after Vic was injured, and you just knew it was probably going to be something important,” Spoelstra said. “But his positive spirit and attitude from that time in the training room to the next day to six months later, that’s what fuels him and inspires all of us, that he’s just capable of having an incredibly positive attitude.
“And he has had to go through a lot. There are a lot of players who probably will have kept it aside until next year. But they have made themselves vulnerable and available to us.”
Noting injuries and even wrongful trouble for its rotation players around the league, Spoelstra said remaining prepared could ultimately still provide a playoff payoff. He used Caleb Martin’s emergence with a rotation role in Tuesday night’s Game 2 as an example.
“You see how quickly things can change,” Spoelstra said. “Suddenly Caleb played and there were really important and crucial minutes in that second half. I expect the same thing to happen with Vic and Markife.”