Miami Heat on Brink of Elimination: Should Erik Spoelstra Be Fired?

Dexter RogersCorrespondent IJune 6, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 24:  Head coach Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat gives instructions to his team against the Indiana Pacers in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on May 24, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Heat defeated the Pacers 105-93. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Last night the Boston Celtics defeated the Miami Heat 94-90 to take a 3-2 lead back to Boston in hopes of booking their second trip to the NBA finals in five years.

Celtics center Kevin Garnett scored 18 of his team-leading 26 points in the fourth quarter while adding 11 rebounds. LeBron James led the Heat by scoring 30 points and collecting 14 rebounds.

The fat lady is not singing, but she is warming up the vocal cords.

The lights have not been turned out, but they are dimming.

The final nail is ready to be drilled in the Miami Heat’s coffin, but it’s not quite time.

But one thing is certain: should the Celtics knock the Heat out of the playoffs, changes must be made.

The Boston Celtics, who few gave a chance to win this series, have resurrected the champions’ heart they displayed in 2008 when they hoisted the championship trophy in triumph.  The experienced Celtics have shown there is still some collective gas in the tanks of aging stars Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.

Meanwhile the Heat are on the brink of elimination. Last year they lost to a hungry Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks.  Inexplicably, LeBron James checked in the witness protection program in last years final; he was essentially missing in action during pivotal moments in the fourth quarter when his talents were needed the most.

This year, disappointment seems to be on the horizon as well. While most love to pile it on LeBron for the Heat’s misfortunes, this time most of the blame must go elsewhere.

It can be logically asserted that head coach Erik Spoelstra is the number reason why the Heat will never get over the hump. In my opinion, Spoelstra doesn’t have the temperament necessary to coach a team full of type-A personalities like LeBron, Wade and Chris Bosh.

The latter was displayed in the last round of the playoffs against the Indiana Pacers when Dwayne Wade and Spoelstra went toe-to-toe on the sidelines. I couldn’t imagine Larry Bird getting into KC Jones face for all to see.  Michael Jordan never showed up Phil Jackson when the chips were down. 

I never saw Kareem Abdul Jabbar or Magic Johnson bump Pat Riley as they were walking off the court in disgust as LeBron did to Spoelstra last year.

Could you imagine Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett getting in head coach Doc Rivers’ grill?

I think not. 

Unlike Spoelstra, Rivers has the respect of his team.  The likes of Phil Jackson, KC Jones, and Pat Riley had the respect of their players because they were true leaders.  In my opinion, Spoelstra doesn’t have the necessary pedigree to command the type of respect that’s necessary to build a championship atmosphere.


In his post-game interview Spoelstra was asked about the home defeat.  He replied, “It’s a loss. That’s all it is.”

Spoelstra was asked why he didn’t play Chris Bosh in the fourth quarter.  He replied, “I didn’t think it would be fair." Bosh felt contrary to Spoelstra. He responded, “I was ready.”

Clearly anyone who watched the contest witnessed Bosh be very effective in the first half.  He brought in a level of passion that was sorely needed. Then your head coach suggests it wasn’t “fair” to play a guy who was ready to play?

Spoelstra’s statements demonstrate he doesn’t have the pulse for his team. The lack of respect the players have shown Spoelstra, coupled with the teams’ lethargic effort and lack of chemistry, point towards a coaching change.

The quick fix would be Pat Riley. He can bring his five championship rings from the front office and instantly command and get the respect of the team simply because of who he is. 

Many critics of LeBron James love to blame him for the Heat’s misfortune.  Not so this year. If anyone is to blame for not consistently getting it done, it is Wade.

In any event, if that fat lady sings on Thursday as the lights go dark and that final nail is drilled in the Heat’s coffin, changes will have to be made going into next year. 

In my opinion, the first order of business would be to replace Spoelstra.

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