Timberwolves’ Tom Thibodeau on Miami Heat: ‘It’s a winning culture, there’s a reason why they win’



Minnesota coach Tom Thibideau said the Heat were playing ‘tough and smart’ when they weren’t winning and then they just took off. (David Santiago/Miami Herald/TNS)

MIAMI – Minnesota Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau praised the Miami Heat for their “winning culture” and a high “standard of excellence,” saying both have contributed to perhaps the greatest turnaround in league history.

“The thing you have to look at, they never really changed,” Thibodeau said before tonight’s game. “Even when they weren’t winning games they were still playing tough and smart and I think when you make the changes that they did. … when you lose a Dwyane Wade and what he meant to this organization and you add a lot of new players, it takes those players time to adjust and once they got it down they just took off.”

The Heat have gone 22-5 since starting the season 11-30. That turnaround started with a 13-game winning streak, the 11th of which was a 115-113 victory in Minnesota.

“But this organization has always been about their defense, their rebounding, sharing the ball, playing tough, playing for each other, playing to win and that’s what they’re doing,” Thibodeau said.

“It’s a winning culture and there’s a reason why they win.”

Thibodeau referenced the number of times the Heat have rebuilt in the 22 years since Pat Riley arrived in South Florida.

“I was thinking about it this morning but over the last 20 years how many times they re-booted it,” he said. “It’s a great organization. The standard of excellence is really high.

“You can go back to when Alonzo (Mourning) and Tim (Hardaway) left, the rebuild there was very short. It’s always been that way here. It never really changes. Their culture is well established and it starts with their defense and then their unselfishness, their intensity, the way they play together, they play smart, play to their strengths.

“I think Erik’s done a terrific job with them and what Pat has done. … it’s a terrific organization.”

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[Heat mailbag: Has Hassan Whiteside turned the corner during this winning stretch?]

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