The Heat’s roster has combined to make zero All-Star game appearances. But some would argue they have an All-Star on the bench.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle is in that group.
“[Erik] Spoelstra should be on the All-Star team,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said before Miami and Dallas faced off Monday. “I mean he always does a great job and he’s even raised the bar higher. What he’s done with this roster and developing guys.
“I mean, what Wayne Ellington is doing, I mean that’s great coaching vision, finding a niche like that and developing him into the kind of guy that’s 100 mile-and-hour sprint into 3-point shots. I mean, not many people saw that coming. So I give Erik a lot of credit for that one. And, all these guys, you know. Richardson has really emerged as a terrific crunch-time player. Tyler Johnson is undrafted. They’ve done a great job with Dragic. Whiteside is a guy that was a second-round pick or something like that and now he’s a max player. I mean, Erik’s done an amazing job with this group.”
The “starless” Heat enter Monday’s game in Dallas with the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference at 28-21. Since Jan. 17, 2017, Miami is 58-32 — the fourth-best record in the league during this 12-month stretch behind Golden State (72-19), Boston (62-29) and Houston (58-29).
“Ever since they started out [11-30] last year, if you calculate their record since then, I don’t know of anybody that’s much better than them,” Carlisle said. “… They go hard. For me, I think they’re as hard a playing team as there is in this league right now. And matching their intensity and force is a lot of what the game is about.”
Carlisle was also complimentary of the Heat last season, calling them “one of the best ball movement drive and kicking teams that I’ve seen in 33 years in this league.” But this season, Carlisle was especially complimentary of Spoelstra.
“I saw their bench the other night in the fourth quarter, when all those guys were sitting down. Whiteside is sitting down. Dragic is sitting down. They’re all into it,” Carlisle said referring to the Heat’s home win over the Hornets on Saturday. “So, they’ve got a good thing going there. And, again, Erik’s the guy that’s the leader of the whole thing. Not to diminish the players that they have — they have good players — but the job he’s doing this year is just phenomenal.”
Spoelstra said the respect is mutual.
“He’s a championship head coach, a Hall of Famer,” Spoelstra said Monday of Carlisle. “But what he’s done for the coaches as the president of the coaches’ association and how he’s fought for everything for us just in terms of pension, respect, communication with officials, how we’re being handled from the league. All across the board, he really has been a trail blazer in that position. All of us owe him a great deal for that.
“And then our teams have battled against each other for a long time, a lot of different types of teams. But you never forget that  Finals matchup, and they played exquisite basketball. They played their absolute best basketball during that two-week stretch. They have the ultimate respect from us.”