When word came out before the start of the 2011-12 lockout shortened NBA season that Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra wanted to implement an ‘Oregon Ducks’ style tempo, most were skeptical about the move given the short training camp.
What a difference winning a championship makes.
Now with a full training camp right over the horizon, Spoelstra wants to rev up the engine more according to a radio interview he did yesterday on South Florida’s AM 560 WQAM.
This desire by Spoelstra to keep playing faster will play a big role for the Heat as they hold workouts to find a big man. For the up-tempo style to be fruitful Miami can’t afford to have a lumbering big man slow them down. Another factor for this plan to work is the overall health of the Heat’s ‘Big 3′ of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.
James is coming off his best career year so far. He finished last season reclaiming the Most Valuable Player award, winning his first championship along with being named Finals MVP, and led Team USA to the Gold Medal in the 2012 London Olymics. That has left James with little time to rest in preparation for the upcoming season. The type of play that Spoelstra wants to implement will test James’ stamina and mental toughness.
As for Wade and Bosh, they are both coming off injuries. Wade had a nagging knee problem during last season’s playoffs that at times made him play sub-par to his standards. Bosh suffered an abdominal strain during Game 1 of last season’s Eastern Conference Semifinals series against the Indiana Pacers that left him on the sidelines until late in the Eastern Conference Finals series against the Boston Celtics. Those injuries kept Wade and Bosh from joining James in London. Both will be tested by this new demand from Spoelstra.
Even with the benefit of a full training camp, the Heat will find it not easy to speed up their already fast temple. Tom Haberstroh of ESPN’s Heat Index blog wrote an interesting piece in which he detailed how long it took for Miami’s commitment to the up-tempo style to bear fruit last season.
It will be a grind for the Heat to step up thier play once again, but Spoelstra will always be able to use one thing as motivation for his players.
He simply has to point to the Larry O’Brien trophy he led them to.