MIAMI – Count Toronto coach Dwane Casey among those impressed with the Miami Heat’s turnaround and the job coach Erik Spoelstra has done.
Here is what he said before tonight game.
On the Heat turnaround: “Winning 20 out of 24 is no joke. It’s a hard playing team, you totally respect where they’ve come from and how they got there. They do it with defense, hard play, shooting the basketball extremely well. They are an analytical dream getting to the rim or shooting the three. Most of all they hard play. You have to meet the hard play, which I think is what we are doing. We played hard last night (a 105-99 loss at Atlanta) and couldn’t get some shots to fall. We had some open looks.”
On how do you handle the “self-made guys” like Rodney McGruder: “You better respect them because they’re here to stay, they have pride, they’re playing with a tremendous amount of confidence that you got to make sure you match. The key thing is respect how hard they play and meet that energy and meet that hard play. All those guys. Any guy that walks on the floor. (Goran) Dragic sets the table. He sets the tone as the point guard. They play as hard as he plays. Everybody is playing their role and playing the game the right way.”
On Miami’s 3-point shooting: “You guard the 3-point line like every team in the NBA. I think everybody is playing the analytical game now. You’ve got to contain the ball first, it starts on the ball. Against a team like tonight that plays a lot of small guys, a lot of guards, contain the basketball that’s going to be the No. 1 priority because it opens it up for everybody else.”
On if he can he take anything from playing the Heat the second week of the season: “No, this team is so different. They’re playing totally different now. I don’t even remember what their record was at that time. Their head was down a little bit. But right now they’re playing with a tremendous amount of confidence. Erik has done a great job of instilling that confidence in a young team that nobody projected to be what they are now fighting for that last spot. You respect that and you have to respect everything they’ve done with each player on that team. The coaching staff has done a good job.”
If he is surprised by what James Johnson has provided (Johnson has had two stints with Toronto totaling 3 ½ years, including the last two): “Unbelievable. I look at him and he looks like a different person, his body, his form. That’s a credit to him and whoever he’s working with has done a great job in transforming his body. He’s lighter, he’s not carrying around extra weight and he’s moving like a guard. He handles the ball in transition. He’s really disciplined himself in making good decisions. That’s what James’ challenge has always been but he’s doing a great job. I’m happy for him except when he plays against us.”