Erik Spoelstra not concerned about Heat ‘mood thermometer,’ only a win Saturday vs. Bucks

Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Friday that he has no time for “the mood thermometer.”

So instead of gauging his team’s mental state amid a 3-0 deficit to the Milwaukee Bucks in the teams’ best-of-seven opening-round NBA Eastern Conference playoff series, his sole focus is finding a way to win Saturday’s 1:30 p.m. Game 4 at AmericanAirlines Arena.

“We have great competitors in our locker room and we’re all disappointed about how this series has gone so far,” he said after practice. “But our competitors really want to get after it [Saturday].”

Spoelstra said it simply is a matter of being better.

“We’re just focused on tomorrow and that’s what today was about, of preparing for that,” he said. “We fully understand we all have to be better. And it’s not just on one side of the floor.

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“This is a very dynamic, competitive series. It’s requiring us to do many things that will have to be better.”

Actually, it hardly has been competitive since the close of overtime in last Saturday’s Game 1, with the Bucks winning Game 2 132-98 on Monday at Fiserv Forum and then Game 3 113-84 on Thursday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.

The Heat fell into a 15-2 hole at the start of Game 2, and were down 12-4 at the start of Game 3, with a better start Saturday likely contributing to at least a morsel of hope.

“I think in a perfect world, that would be great,” Spoelstra said. “But it’s competition, so you have to deal with whatever comes our way. The most important thing is the competitiveness and the efficiency that the Bucks are playing at is going to require 48 minutes of great basketball, if not more. And we understand that.”

Spoelstra tried to get the Heat offense back on track by starting Goran Dragic in place of Kendrick Nunn in Game 3. Instead, it was the Heat’s lowest-scoring playoff game since a 96-80 loss to the Charlotte Hornets in the 2016 first round.

“The idea was a little bit more offensive organization,” Spoelstra said of starting Dragic. “The Bucks have done a very good job, obviously of taking us out of or normal comfort-rhythm offense.”

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Guard Tyler Herro acknowledged that clean looks have been few and far between for the Heat.

“There haven’t been many,” he said. “And then, when there is, as a player, when you finally get an open shot, it’s like you have to make it, because it’s your first open shot. Everyone’s trying to get an open look, and it hasn’t been easy.

“And that’s credit to them. They’re really doing a really good job of taking us out of our comfort zones. It’s been tough for us.”

Bjelica time?

Although 11 of his 14 points came after’s Thursday’s game was decided, backup center Nemanja Bjelica still might have earned Game 4 time with his shooting.


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