LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all mentioned Saturday that coach Erik Spoelstra has been far more willing to listen to players’ suggestions this season than in the past.
And in the context of discussing that, Wade — for the first time — acknowledged the Game 3 incident in Indiana when he yelled at Spoelstra before being pulled away by teammates.
“Something was made of that blowup in Indiana, but that shows how our relationship has grown,” Wade said. “We’ve been together for a long time. You don’t have those kinds of moments if you haven’t been together. It’s just like family members, just like a brother.
“We have moments, but we love each other, and we move on from it. We grow from it. I’ve enjoyed seeing him grow. The biggest growth in him this season has been his openness to ask other guys what they think. … That’s key for players to feel they have that openness with their coach, that he’s going to listen to what they have to say, and sometimes use it, sometimes not.”
Bosh said Spoelstra has “become a better listener, taking our opinions a lot more … to make better adjustments.”
Those suggestions, according to Bosh, have included play suggestions.
“Most of the time, they’ve worked out,” Bosh added.
“That’s a huge part in really trusting each other. It has to come from the front office all the way down to the players.”
James twice called Spoelstra “awesome” and added: “Two straight Finals appearances, and he’s put us in position to win every game.”
THIS AND THAT
• Spoelstra said he is speaking so much to Heat president Pat Riley that “it’s almost as if he’s a member on my staff. If I’m not calling him, if I’m not bumping into him at the office, I’m texting him. Our dialogue has been very good. It’s most relevant with a team like this. He’s walked in my shoes before.”
• Thunder center Kendrick Perkins said Heat-Thunder definitely is not a rivalry, but guard Thabo Sefolosha said: “I think we don’t like that team, and we’ve got to play angry. I think that’s what we’re going to do.”
• Since the NBA went to a 2-3-2 Finals format in 1985, the home team has won Games 3, 4 and 5 only twice (the Pistons against the Lakers in 2004 and the Heat against the Mavericks in 2006). The road team has won Games 3, 4 and 5 on three occasions.
• Even after becoming the first Heat player to produce the combo of 16 points and 15 rebounds in an NBA Finals game, Bosh said: “I don’t think it was that good. I’m not satisfied with that, and I hope nobody else is satisfied.”
• Udonis Haslem, discussing how James and others sometimes scold Mario Chalmers during games: “LeBron has taken him under his wing, like big brother, little brother.
“Obviously, little brother gets picked on. When he’s walking in front of you, you trip him and pull his pants down and tease him a lot. But you do it out of love and want the best for him.”
• Asked about the Heat falling behind in three playoff series, Bosh said: “I don’t think it’s a question of talent with this team. It’s always a question of the effort. As long as we bring the effort and determination and play in that desperate form, we’re really tough to beat. We can’t let our guard down because we’re at home. I’m expecting a much harder fought game than Game 2.”