Erik Spoelstra to Heat: Don't travel, just let it fly


Amid the NBA’s crackdown on traveling, particularly perimeter players switching their pivot foot, Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has come up with a simple solution.

“I would like to see our shooters shooting those instead of shot faking to lead to a travel,” Spoelstra said, his ire previously up when his outside specialists such as Duncan Robinson, Wayne Ellington and Kelly Olynyk bypass open looks. “So if they’re not going to listen to us, listen to the official, because that would be a missed opportunity.”

Spoelstra has made sure his players are hearing whistles, calling contact as tight in practice as referees have this preseason amid the NBA’s focus on freedom of movement.

“Our guys are so frustrated in practice,” he said before Monday’s exhibition against the Orlando Magic at AmericanAirlines Arena. “We’re calling every single foul. We’re benefiting from that also, from our aggressiveness offensively.

“But there’s no question they’re calling it tighter right now. You have to adapt, you have to adjust. What we say is we have to become masters of technique.”

Unique schedule

Spoelstra said it wasn’t by choice that the Heat played their first three exhibitions on the road and now their final three at home.

“Like a lot of teams we got caught that the preseason was shortened,” he said of the NBA’s shift that started last year, “and we already had contracts and you just had to make do with what you could, dealing with everybody’s arenas.

“We would not have ideally liked to have gone from training camp to a two-game road trip. But we made the best of it and we sold it as, ‘Hey, we get 10 days at home before our opener.’ “

Guard Goran Dragic said it has been a unique experience.

“It’s been kind of a crazy schedule, especially at the beginning,” he said. “Training camp we were away [at Florida Atlantic University], and then suddenly after training camp we went to San Antonio and then Charlotte, Washington. So we’ve been away from home a lot.

“But now we have an opportunity to work on our craft at home.”

Still confident

Spoelstra on Monday again downplayed his team’s injury absences.

“While we do have guys that are out of the rotation and that could probably be a little unsettling if you didn’t have so many guys coming back,” he said, “we feel we have continuity that’s trying to develop a next level to our game from last year.”

He said the preseason has mostly been about building off of last season, even with the injuries.

“I think everybody has a better understanding of what our strengths are and how we need to play,” he said. “And then now, it’s just a matter of continuing to build those habits.

“When you have a new group, you’re trying to build an identity and spending a lot of time on that.”

iwinderman@sunsentinel.com. Follow him at twitter.com/iraheatbeat or facebook.com/ira.winderman

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