Eric Spoelstra plan

Heat’s Eric Spoelstra: ‘Early signs that something good is happening’

October 18, 2022

Coach Erik Spoelstra said that even with 13 players returning from last season, his team is ready to put new faces on the familiar.

“Yeah, we don’t look the same anymore,” he said as the Heat continued to prepare for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. The season opener against the Bulls at FTX Arena. “That’s what happened when we started talking about this as the staff we were preparing for in June, July, and August. I think it was easy for all of us to say, ‘Let’s go back in time and do the same things.’

“We went through the hard process of starting with a blank slate. Let’s act like we don’t know anything about it. Let’s try to make a plan. Let’s open up and see where it’s going.”

The only newcomers on the roster this season are first-round pick Nikola Jovic and two-way players Jamal Kane and Drew Smith. Lost in the offseason were P.J. Tucker and Markieff Morris, who both left as free agents.

But Spoelstra said the redeployment of the other 13 players expects to represent a fresh start.

“It’s not going to stop,” he said. “That’s going to be the whole season. But even visually, right now, how it feels, it already looks different than it did last year. But the early signs are that some good things are happening.”

As for how the season started, Spoelstra was mum on his lineup and rotation plans.

“I want to communicate so these guys can be a little bit clearer and make themselves more comfortable,” he said of the work behind the scenes. “But I won’t have all the answers until Wednesday night because we have a strong team. We have a talented team, a versatile team. We want to maximize all of that.

“I’m also very aware that I can’t play a 15-man lineup, so there’s going to be some very deserving guys, and they won’t necessarily be in the first game. But I’m open to anything. And, as we know, there are 82 games. It’s a long game season, and we’ll need everyone. That’s a good thing. It’s a strength of our squad, and we’re deep.”


Working Men

Spoelstra said the week between last Wednesday’s final and Wednesday’s opener was intense, including scrimmages for teams led by Jimmy Butler and Udonis Haslem.

“We’ve had a couple of red teams that were partly UD-led over the past two days, and I’m not going to say who the members of that team were,” Spoelstra said, alluding to the starters. “But Jimmy was on that team, talking a lot of trash because the black team won, but, in the end, UD somehow dropped his way to a couple of wins, and he let everyone on the team know. So you have two lions chasing each other.

“I wish we could recreate that every day. I love that part, too, because young players have to really see what a real UD is like, not the great mentors who put their arms around you. He’s a savage at heart, Man, that’s our language, and he’s brought it with him in recent days.”


Still sidelined

Center Omer Yurtseven was the only one of the team’s 16 players not to practice Monday since his first exhibition game due to a sore ankle.

“We just have to keep treating him,” Spoelstra said. “He’s doing more work, and we feel like he’s getting closer. But he’s still day in and day out.”


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