As of this writing, fifteen months have passed since the Los Angeles Lakers beat out the Miami Heat for the 2020 NBA championship. In the grand scheme of things, that’s really not a crazy amount of time. However, it can be tantamount to an eternity when one is talking about the Association.
On Sunday, the two teams will converge upon FTX Arena to do battle once again. And while there are holdovers on both sides from that incredible bubble run, the clubs’ respective situations have changed dramatically since then.
Still, on the eve of the latest Lakers-Heat showdown, Miami coach Erik Spoelstra can’t help but look back on his team’s last title shot. In fact, he actively engages with those memories on a regular basis.
“I think about it a lot,” Spoelstra said of the 2020 Finals, via the Miami Herald.
Coach Spo Relives the Run
Although Spoelstra has been involved with multiple Finals runs over the years, the Heat coach contends that there was a different vibe with the 2020 series.
“It’s probably heightened because we were [in the bubble] 100 days,” he said. “You always have everything invested into it. But that was very unique, obviously, because of the circumstances and the camaraderie and the emotional investment was as high as any group that I’ve been around. I think all the factors led to that.”
Despite the passage of time and some of the turnover that has occurred with the Heat’s roster, Spoelstra believes that the experience of those Finals continues to pay dividends for his club, which is currently just a half-game behind the East-leading Brooklyn Nets and eyeing another Finals return.
“I think any time you have an opportunity to compete at the highest level and compete in that final round, you can see how great the competition is and how much is required to be able to get over the top,” he opined. “I’m just really grateful that we had that experience.”
For his part, Heat star Bam Adebayo agrees.
“I think it’s great for us because we’ve been there, we’ve gotten there and we know what it takes to get there,” Adebayo said. “I feel like that’s the biggest lesson in life is experience.”
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What Might Have Been
Although the Heat’s current situation is at the forefront of his mind, Spoelstra can’t help but wonder how things might have played out for his team in the bubble had the ball bounced the other way at times.
“If we could have just found a way to get one of those earlier games, that’s what frustrates me about it as much as anything,” Spoelstra said. “If we could have somehow gotten that series deeper, if we win one more game.”
“I always think about what if,” Adebayo added. “But you just got to keep going with life.”