After a loss to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals last year, the first season of the Miami Heat Big Three experiment was looked at as a failure, but not a major failure. After all, in their first season together, the Heat did win the Eastern Conference Championship and they did reach the NBA Finals. They simply just ran into a hot player in Dirk Nowitzki, and the Mavericks proved to be too much for the Heat.
Now jump ahead to season two. The Miami Heat have more pressure to win a championship this year than any team in the history of sports has ever had. They finish the season as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, but after an injury to star Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose, the Heat are a lock to win the Eastern Conference Finals.
Now we arrive at today.
June 6, 2012.
The sports page of the Miami Herald reads "Pushed to the brink."
And that can certainly describe what has happened to the Miami Heat. After going up 2-0 in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics, the Heat have dropped three straight games and now find themselves one loss away from what appears to be an agonizing offseason.
Certainly, if the Heat lose this series to Boston, they can not just go into the offseason saying maybe next year will be our year. Surely some changes will have to be made with this team if they can not manage to get past the Boston Celtics.
And while LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will be scrutinized time and time again during this painful offseason, someone else will surely come under fire. That would be Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra.
Spoelstra has already drawn great amounts of criticism during his time in Miami. It is extremely difficult to even tell if Spoelstra is actually even a coach of this team or just a figurehead designed to keep things in order.
Everything that happens with the Miami Heat gets overanalyzed, but throughout the last two seasons, there have been many questioned asked about Spoelsra's relationship with his players. Two of the biggest instances of this occurred with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
At one point last season, James bumped into Spoelstra when he was walking past him by the bench. James also did this once or twice to Cavaliers head coach Mike Brown when both James and Brown were members of the Cleveland organization. Although I love LeBron James, it is simply a childish move by him if he is in fact running into people on the sidelines on purpose just to show that he is frustrated.
The other instance occurred in the Eastern Conference Semifinals this season, when Wade and Spoelsta got into a heated argument on the bench. Both Wade and Spoelstra said it was not really a big deal, but it does make you wonder how much control Spoelstra has over his team.
Spoelstra was given a contract extension with the Heat just before this season started, and if Miami manages to win a championship this season, then everything in Miami should be just fine. If the Heat do not win, though, expect lots of questions to be thrown around about the future of Erik Spoelstra in Miami.