This time, Heat can’t get Celtics fouled up
Although it’s part of playoff rhetoric, the constant talk about officiating appears to be wearing on Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, especially when it comes to the notion of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade being extended a favorable whistle.
It finally caught up to the Heat in the 101-91 loss to the Celtics in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final on Friday night. Wade failed to get to the foul line for the first time in the playoffs since his rookie season against the Hornets. And James scored only one point from the line in the loss, which dropped the Heat to a 2-1 edge in the best-of-seven matchup.
“We don’t buy any of that. That’s normal playoff talk,” Spoelstra said of talk of the Heat benefiting from the officiating.
Spoelstra said the sound of whistles is merely an extension of his mandate for his scorers to attack the rim.
“That’s who we’ve been all year long, and what we’ve been trying to hammer and hold each other accountable to is that’s our identity,” he said of not settling for jump shots, something his team did too often Friday. “When we get away from that identity, it hasn’t been a successful formula.”
To a degree, he said the Heat’s approach is to challenge the defense and the referees.
“We’re going to attack,” he said. “Everybody knows how we want to play.
“If we can get some of those in the open court or work different triggers to be able to get those attacks, get to the rim, get to the free throw line, it’s not like this is something that’s new right now.”
He said that certainly would be the plan in Sunday’s Game 4.
“We’re a league leader in free throw attempts during the season for a reason,” he said. “Those guys have an attack mentality. They bring a physical presence to their guys.”
He said it is important for his team not to get away from the approach on the road … and not get caught up in the debate about whether his team gets too many calls.
“I think we’ve been able to compartmentalize and focus on what really matters, and that’s the possession of the game, try to win the game, rather than get caught up on all the things that we can’t control,” he said.