Heat coach Erik Spoelstra’s willingness to accept input from players became a talking point after practice Thursday, two days after LeBron James’ suggestion for Norris Cole to defend Lance Stephenson paid dividends in the fourth quarter of Game 2.
“It’s being made a little bit more than it is, but I’ll go along with it,” Spoelstra said. “It happens all the time. It wasn’t as major as people are making it out to be.”
But players said Spoelstra’s openness to their ideas is appreciated.
“In certain moments he trusts us to come up with what we feel is best,” Dwyane Wade said. “… We wouldn’t be champions if we didn’t have it. We wouldn’t be the team we are today if we didn’t have the trust from both sides to understand we don’t have all the answers, they don’t have all the answers. We’re figuring it all out together. A lot of it is on the fly at times.”
James said he is “usually the culprit of putting guys in a position of where I want them to be defensively. Spo has allowed me, D-Wade, [ Udonis Haslem] … to make in-game adjustments.”
Chris Bosh said he, too, has made suggestions “plenty of times. It doesn’t mean we always use it.”
Of James’ recommendation to put Cole on Stephenson in the fourth quarter of Game 2, Spoelstra pointed out that Cole handled that assignment at times in Game 1 and earlier in Game 2.
“As long as it’s not something crazy, then I’m always fine with looking at something for a possession that they feel comfortable with, Spoelstra said. “If we need to make a change from there, we will. Those guys have a feel for what’s going on, on the court, even more so than us because they’re out there experiencing it.”
Pacers forward Paul George, who sustained a concussion after his head collided with Wade’s knee in Game 2, did not participate in practice Thursday but did light shooting and dunked.
Coach Frank Vogel said George went through several steps of the NBA-mandated concussion protocol but that the team might not know his availability for Game 3 until the day of the game (Saturday). James said he expects George will play.
• James, on Cleveland winning the No. 1 pick in the draft lottery: “I’m in the middle of conference finals. That’s the last thing on my mind.”
• James asserted the Heat is “not the most talented team in the NBA” but declined to say which team is.