2016 NBA playoffs: Strong quotes from Heat locker room

Dwyane Wade and his teammates had a lot to say after losing Game 7. (Getty Images)
Dwyane Wade and his teammates had a lot to say after losing Game 7. (Getty Images)

The Heat’s season is over after a Game 7 loss in Toronto. While they missed their target of reaching the Eastern Conference finals and squaring off with LeBron James, it was an impressive turnaround to go 48-34 after being 37-45 the year before.

Here’s what the team said after losing Sunday:

Dwyane Wade: “Getting to the Eastern Conference Finals was our goal. Goran (Dragic) and I have been together for a year and a half now and we’ve been snake-bitten a little bit. All you want is a chance. With what we had we fought tooth and nails to try and get to that goal of getting to the Eastern Conference Finals. Unfortunately we fell one game short.”

Dragic, on whether it was a good season given the injury situation: “We never think like that. We never use excuses. That’s why this is such a good club. We had 14 or 15 players on the roster. Of course it would be much easier with Hassan and C.B. on the floor, but it doesn’t only happen to us. Last year it happened to Cleveland. If you want to go far in the playoffs, you need to be healthy.”

Joe Johnson, on his run with the Heat: “It was pretty good. I enjoyed it. Obviously we got hindered with injuries, but we make no excuses. We fought hard and did whatever we could to extend it, but we just came up short.”

Amar’e Stoudemire on his first year with the Heat: “Great chemistry. I enjoyed the guys and I had the best time of my life with my teammates this season.”

Stoudemire: “We played well, we showed some resilience and we showed determination. Even though we lost Bosh and Whiteside, we played well this season. You never want to have too many moral victories, but this year was a good year for us.”

Justise Winslow on his rookie season: “You hear things about the league, but what it actually manifests to be can be totally different. It’s 82 games and how long that is. The pick-up in intensity from the regular season to the playoffs is one of those things you don’t know until you experience it. Going through this first season and everything I learned in different situations, different positions, playing different players and things on film– With everything I learned, I feel like I’m gonna be a better player from it after being a rookie playing deep into the playoffs. Whenever I can allow myself mentally and emotionally to reflect, I’m sure I’ll look back and be sort of satisfied and sort of happy with the season I had.”

Dragic, on rookies Josh Richardson and Winslow: “They’ve proven to everybody that those are not regular rookies. They competed the whole series. They’re not afraid of nobody, not even taking shots in crucial moments. That’s what I love about their rookies. They always listen to us, they’re always working hard and those guys have a bright future.”

Luol Deng, on Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside being out: “We all know we’re a better team with those guys, but you don’t think that way. You battle with the guys that you have, you believe in each other and you go out and play.”

Dragic, on the number of guys who might leave in free agency: “Of course I would go into battle with those guys any time. They’ve proven they’re warriors. They don’t back off. But this is the business of basketball. You never know who’s gonna be here next season. This is not my decision. We had good moments and bad moments, but we always come through with good attitudes and work ethic and the team was close. It was together for the whole season.”

Erik Spoelstra, on the ugliness of this series: “Toronto beat us, fair and square. Give them credit. It was a competitive series. Players on both teams were playing through injuries. That’s why this game is great. It’s unfortunate that people thought that this was maybe not the most elegant series, but it was one of the more competitive ones — and if you are a true basketball enthusiast, you could find joy in a competitive grind like this.”

Deng, on the difficulty of patching together a rotation after injuries: “I’m not gonna say anything is difficult. This is how we’ve been playing all year. We’ve had guys down, we’ve changed it up and we’ve gone out there and played hard. We don’t try to make excuses.”

Josh McRoberts, on the feeling in the locker room: “You’re disappointed. This is one of the most enjoyable teams I’ve ever been a part of, just a great group of guys. That’s what you’ll miss the most, being here every day with this group… It’s tough to look at it from (a long-term) perspective right now. It’s tough to go out like this.”

Dragic, on whether the uptempo offense is the future of this team: “I feel like I can play both ways, of course, but with a faster pace you can get more possessions. When you get more possessions, even if you don’t have a good shooting night, if your defense is solid you can still win a lot of games. I enjoyed this season. It was ups and downs for me, but the second half of the season was great. Hopefully we’re going to continue in that direction.”

Wade: “The better team won today. We don’t make excuses, and I don’t think Toronto would make any excuses for injuries either. I thought this was a great series, but today Toronto was the better team for the majority of the game.”

[2016 NBA playoffs: Heat “fought with what they had and did what they could” this season]

[2016 NBA playoffs: Wade played up to his $20 million contract this season]

[2016 NBA playoffs: Udonis Haslem sets a cool record]

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