The Miami Heat‘s 111-103 victory over the Boston Celtics during a win-or-go-home Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday, May 27, was a thrilling nail-biter down the last minute, and Nikki Sapp Spoelstra, wife of head coach Erik Spoelstra, went through all the emotions while watching from home.
Nikki, a former dancer for the Heat, married Spoelstra in 2016. Together they have two children, Santiago, who was born in March 2018, and Dante, born in December 2019.
While Mrs. Spoelstra usually keeps her Instagram posts non-sports related, the host of The Know podcast, made an exception on Friday night.
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On her Instagram stories, Nikki posted a selfie on the couch with her dog and wrote, “I generally hate these games #anxiety,” — a most relatable reaction for Heat Nation, all watching the team fight to keep their season alive while playing in enemy territory.
While Heat star Jimmy Butler put on an incredible performance, scoring 45 points with nine rebounds and eight assists, with 2:06 remaining in the fourth quarter, the game was still tied 99-99.
Nikki then shared another update on her Instagram stories, which was perhaps even more relatable than the first post. Dipping an Oreo cookie into a glass of milk, “Not me stress eating,” she captioned the photo.
On Saturday morning, Nikki proudly put on a black “CULTURE” hat while flashing a huge smile on her face, which is likely similar to how much of Heat Nation woke up after remembering that Miami forced a Game 7.
Coach Spo’s wife is no stranger to intense playoff games. If the Heat can win Game 7, it will be the second time in three seasons that Miami reached the NBA Finals.
Spoelstra Said His Team ‘Deserved a Game 7’
While Spoelstra faced major backlash for sticking with the usual starting lineup after such disastrous results in Game 4 and Game 5, especially with Max Strus in a shooting slump and Kyle Lowry looking like a shell of his former self, the 51-year-old coach resisted pressure to switch things up.
After going 0-for-11 on threes over the past two games, Strus finished on Friday night with 13 points, shooting 5-of-12 from the field and 3-of-8 beyond the arc. As for Lowry, the six-time All-Star shot 5-of-23 in the series before Game 6, and went 0-6 in Game 5 with zero assists while committing five fouls and three turnovers.
Despite playing through a nagging hamstring injury, the 36-year-old point guard scored 18 points, going 4-of-9 on threes, along with 10 assists, four rebounds, one steal, and one block on Friday night.
During the postgame conference, “It wasn’t a matter of schematics or things like that,” Spoelstra said of the Heat flipping the script and Butler’s explosive performance. “Jimmy just brought his competitive will tonight. It was a will that would not let us lose.”
“You have to go through tough things on a playoff run when you’re trying to accomplish something special,” Spoelstra continued. “And I think this group deserved a Game 7.”
Game 7 Brings the Series Back to Miami
The Celtics/Heat series has been so wildly unpredictable that it’s hard to predict how Game 7 will play out at the FTX Arena in Miami on Sunday, May 29. However, the Heat playing at home should serve as an advantage. Miami holds a 6-2 record at home in Game 7s, per Miami Herald’s Anthony Chiang.
“Everybody counted us out,” heat center Bam Adebayo said after Game 6. “Everybody thought the series was already over. I mean, that’s all the motivation we needed.”
Game 7 of the Celtics vs. Heat series will take place at 8:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, airing live on ESPN.