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Malcolm Huckaby remembers the making of Erik Spoelstra 05.28.12 at 7:28 am ET
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Malcolm Huckaby was a member of the 1996-97 Heat.

The little office light on in the practice facility still on at 3 a.m. The calculating of plus-minus plays in practice. The guy breaking down film for Hall of Fame coach Pat Riley.

This is my memory up close with a Pat Riley clone and future coach of an NBA dream team named Erik Spoelstra.

I had fulfilled one of my lifelong dreams, playing in the NBA for the Heat, when I inked a one-year deal in 1996 as a free agent with Riley, who coached the team then.

Riley mused on a then-undrafted free agent point guard out of Boston College who had overcome a horrific ankle injury, calling me a player who was a PHD (poor, hungry and desperate). Spoelstra, at the time, was crafting his skill in the dungeon of the video room of the team, working long hours desperately trying to give Riley any advantage possible.

Most people on the outside at the time of the 1996-97 season failed to give the kind of credit they do now for the work of assistant coaches, who work zombie hours with all the credit going to the head coach. But the knowledge that was around when I played was priceless. You had a Hall of Fame coach in Riley, along with Stan Van Gundy (who, after I asked him and Spoelstra how much sleep they got the night before, replied, “Huck, sleep is overrated”), and assistant coach Bob (Can Do) McAdoo, who once led the NBA in scoring when guys with nicknames like “Ice Man” were playing.

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Read More: Bob McAdoo, Erik Spoelstra, Malcolm Huckaby, Pat Riley
Why Erik Spoelstra and the Heat still fear Kevin Garnett and the C’s 05.10.11 at 12:04 pm ET
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After Saturday night’s 28-point, 18-rebound performance, Erik Spoelstra called Kevin Garnett the modern-day Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

After his team found a way to hold Garnett to 1-of-10 shooting from the field and seven points in a 98-90 overtime win over the Celtics Monday night, Spoelstra wasn’t about to say he found any miraculous answer. And if he did, he wasn’t about to share it anyway.

“I’m not going to say anything about it,” Spoelstra said. “Now he’s got 48 hours to gain all his fuel again and fuel him up. I’m sure if I actually paid attention, everybody will be saying whatever they will be saying about him.”

Chris Bosh was a big piece of the puzzle on Monday night, so was Joel Anthony, the surprise starter at center for Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

“He’s a champion,” Spoelstra said of KG. “I have incredible respect for him. We tried to be active defensively. We tried to not leave people on an island. I anticipate we’ll get their best games on Wednesday and we have to be better than that. If we’re real about what we want to do, we have to beat the Boston Celtics at their best.”

All of that is well and good but Doc Rivers knows he has to have more out of KG Wednesday night in Miami if the Celtics have a prayer of chance to bring the series back to the Garden for Game 6 Friday night.

“I don’t know,” Rivers responded when asked if Garnett was tentative. “They trapped him a couple of times and I thought he was probably looking more for traps. We have to get him down there more; we tried. So, I don’t know. I don’t think so. I think he was looking for – he was looking to be a passer to me more than being an aggressive scorer. And that was that.”

Read More: 2011 NBA Playoffs, Boston Celtics, Chris Bosh, Doc Rivers
Kevin Garnett proves he is the modern-day Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 05.08.11 at 1:00 am ET
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The doubters were out in force following Game 2 against the Heat when Kevin Garnett was held to six points and eight rebounds in over 37 minutes in a loss that put Boston in a 2-0 hole. This came after a fairly pedestrian 16 points and six rebounds in 37 minutes in a Game 1 loss.

Miami coach Erik Spoelstra knew it was just a matter of time before Garnett exploded. Saturday night was that time – and specifically the third quarter. KG hit seven-of-eight shots from the field in scoring 14 of his game-high 28 in a 97-81 Game 3 win over the Heat.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. That’s what it reminds me of,” Spoelstra beamed afterward. “He’s too proud of a player, talk about an MVP, one of the best players in this league, as soon as he stepped on the court as a rookie 14 years ago.”

Garnett added 18 rebounds to go with his 28 points on 13-of-20 shooting in 38 minutes.

“I thought tonight I was just a lot more poised,” Garnett said. “Just as a unit, as a team we had a lot more energy. I felt like I’ve been nonexistent pretty much offensively in this series. Tonight was a little more focused on offense versus defense. I thought I did a good job of balancing out to be honest. I looked for my shot to be honest. They weren’t bringing a double team so I just took my opportunities and I was aggressive. That’s what I’ve got to be like for the rest of these series if not the whole playoffs.”

Still – to Spoelstra – he couldn’t help but think of Kareem when he saw KG Saturday night dismantle his team.

“For the revisionist out there, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar when everyone threw dirt on him in the finals against Boston, he came out the next night and had 37 [points] and 15 [rebounds],” Spoelstra said of Kareem’s 1985 Game 2 performance that helped the Lakers beat the Celtics in six. For the record, Kareem had 30 points, 17 rebounds, eight assists, one steal and three blocks in a 109-102 win at Boston Garden.

“And while all this fuel was going on the last three days, I was cringing because you know this is a proud group, and you knew they would have a response which is fine. If we’re going to go where we want to go to, we have to outplay them when they are at their best. They’re going to be at their best, and we feel that our best game is good enough, and we were not at our best game tonight certainly, you have to give them credit.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 NBA Playoffs, Boston Celtics, Erik Spoelstra, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Tim Legler on D&C: ‘It became the Cavaliers of South Beach’ 10.27.10 at 9:10 am ET
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Tim Legler

Tim Legler

ESPN’s Tim Legler joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to dissect the Celtics’ season-opening victory over the Heat on Tuesday night at TD Garden. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Legler said the debut of the Heat’s Big Three was a clear failure.

“The Miami Heat, I just think they’re a team that’s probably 20 percent maybe of what they can be,” he said. “Because offensively last night, that wasn’t just bad for an opening night game, that was inept, period, for an NBA team offensively, the way they played, especially the in the first half. I think that Erik Spoelstra‘s got a very challenging task to try to figure out a way to get ball movement on a team with a lot of guys that want to catch the ball and break you down individually.”

While the Cavaliers completed each other and fit into well-defined roles with LeBron James leading the way, the Heat look out of sync in James’ debut for his new team.

“I saw a bunch of guys that didn’t look like they fit well together,” Legler said. “I saw LeBron James go back into the mode in the second half where he basically said, ‘I have to become a scorer now to win this game.’ And that’s exactly what he was in Cleveland night in and night out. And it’s a big reason why he went to Miami, to avoid that situation, to let other guys make plays, to let him be more of a facilitator in that situation.”

As for James’ comments after the game that the team was too unselfish, Legler said he charted the game, and the stats don’t back up that claim.

“I thought that last night saying that we were too unselfish was a complete cop-out,” Legler said. “I didn’t see that at all. … Seventy percent of what they got offensively was someone basically saying, ‘I’m going to go one-on-one right now.’ That’s not an unselfish approach, that’s a selfish approach. The lack of ball movement makes them look selfish, but the problem is No. 1, they don’t have enough guys on the floor that can spread the floor and be consistent 3-point shooters.”

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Read More: Dwyane Wade, Erik Spoelstra, LeBron James, Tim Legler
Doc on Miami rumor: ‘I’m not going there’ 10.09.10 at 3:42 pm ET
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Doc Rivers downplayed speculation that he would one day go to Miami to coach Pat Riley’s South Beach juggernaut. “I’m not getting into that.,” Rivers said Saturday after the Celtics concluded practice. “The only guy on [Riley's] list is Erik [Spoelstra] and that’s the only guy that should be there. I’m not going there.”

Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski wrote that Rivers would be at the top of Riley’s list if he were to make a change. In the same piece, Rivers told Woj that he’s given thought to being a career Celtics coach.

“I’m year to year,” Rivers reiterated Saturday. “That’s how I am. The question asked is, where else would you rather go? And I don’t think there’s a better place than here. It’s a great set-up and it is phenomenal.”

Much of the basis for Rivers’ decision to return for the final season of his contract is his relationship with Celtics boss Danny Ainge. The coach has said often that he has a unique friendship with Ainge, and that’s not something coaches can find in every city.

“It’s the organization,” Rivers said. “You look at the Red Sox and see Theo [Epstein] and Terry [Francona] and they have a great relationship. It works. When you can get along it’s nice. You look around and there’s so many groups that’s them and us. Here it’s just us.

“Maybe because we went through hard times at the start. Not our relationship, but we weren’t winning a lot of games. When you endure that as a group, I think you clearly grow together. It’s amazing through that whole time I thought as a group, we got closer and that’s rare.”

His players are certainly glad that’s sticking around. Paul Pierce noted earlier in camp that Rivers’ decision to return was a key factor in his decision to re-sign, along with Ray Allen.

“He’s been able to coach a young team and he’s shown he can build a veteran team with a lot of personalities,” Pierce said. “That’s a difficult combination for a coach. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Doc here for another 20 years, and you might see me here too.”

Read More: Doc Rivers, Erik Spoelstra, Pat Riley, Paul Pierce
Erik Spoelstra press conference 04.21.10 at 3:06 am ET
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Heat coach Erik Spoelstra spoke to the media following his team’s 106-77 loss to the Celtics in Game 2 of the opening round of the NBA playoffs. During the press conference, the frustrated Spoelstra called his team’s loss “embarrassing.”

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