Heat coach Erik Spoelstra on Sunday in Milwaukee took umbrage to his team being warned for a bench-decorum violation.
Morry Gash/AP Heat coach Erik Spoelstra on Sunday in Milwaukee took umbrage to his team being warned for a bench-decorum violation.
Erik Spoelstra appreciates the rationale. Fans certainly have the right to an unobstructed view.
But where Spoelstra takes issue with the NBA’s crackdown on bench decorum is when common sense is removed from the equation.
That, the Miami Heat coach said, is what made one particular moment particularly confounding in his team’s Game 1 victory Sunday over the Milwaukee Bucks in this best-of-seven opening-round Eastern Conference playoff series.
As Sunday’s halftime buzzer sounded, the Heat were hit with a delay-of-game warning for bench decorum.
There was no denial from Spoelstra about his players standing as play had continued to the end of that second period. But the reason why, Spoelstra said, should have canceled out any sanction, as Heat guard Tyler Herro played on after breaking his right hand.
Later, in the third quarter, when it was a nine-point game, the Heat then were hit with their second delay warning, which meant a technical foul and Milwaukee free throw
In advance of Wednesday night’s Game 2 of the series at Fiserv Forum, Spoelstra still was edgy about the bench sanction.
“The first one happened when Tyler got hurt,” Spoelstra said. “So of course we’re all standing up. We’re concerned about him. By the letter of the law, yes. But I think in the playoffs, with the intense emotions that get increased at this time of year, I think there has to be a little bit of grace and situational management from the officials.
“That was an extreme case, that he was in a lot of pain and everybody was standing up, trying to help find a solution. But they penalized us for it.”
Last season, before the bench-decorum rule was changed in the offseason in a manner that could impact the score of the game, the Heat were hit with a $25,000 NBA fine after Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics for players in that victory standing for an extended period.
Spoelstra said Sunday’s context of the moment deserved consideration.
“And thankfully that didn’t cost us anything at the end,” he said. “That one point [on the technical free throw] could have been really costly, when I think it could have been avoided.”
Spoelstra said players routinely are warned by his staff to sit.
And then the emotion of the moment takes hold.
“We’ve had to talk to ’em about it,” Spoelstra said. “I’m sure every team gets the same looks as we do, when you mention it. There’s eye rolling. But that’s what the league has decided and you have to respect it.”
With the playoffs being go-time, veteran Heat point guard Kyle Lowry said he is at a point where he is ready to go as long as needed.
“I feel good. I feel great,” Lowry said as he headed into Wednesday night’s game. “Listen, I’m a 37-year-old veteran and I’m here to help my team, and no matter what it is, to win basketball games. If they need more, I can give more. If they need less, I’ll give less. I’ll give everything I can give. And at this point in the season, it’s about our team and about us winning as a group.”
Lowry is just over a month back from missing a month due to knee pain, still routinely listed on the Heat injury report as questionable.
“I’m full go,” he said. “The organization and everybody’s been on the same page and we’re in constant communication. And if they need more from me, I’m going to give every last bit I can give. And I can give a lot, and I give a little. At this point, it’s about our team and helping us win.”
There also is no issue about playing as a reserve the past month, something he previously had not done in over a decade.
“Right now,” he said, “it’s just about helping the team. Honestly, if they want me to start, start. If they want me to come off as a reserve, reserve role. I’m happy to help our team be successful.”