Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, the NBA’s newest member of the 600-win club, is grateful to team president Pat Riley and managing general partner Micky Arison.
“It’s humbling,” Spoelstra said. “I feel a great responsibility to do it the right way for something (Riley and Arison) started and created.”
Spoelstra is one of six NBA coaches to get to 600 wins with one franchise, joining Red Auerbach (Celtics), Red Holzman (Knicks), Phil Jackson (Lakers), Jerry Sloan (Jazz) and Gregg Popovich (Spurs). Jackson also won 545 games with the Chicago Bulls.
On Saturday night, Spoelstra will go for win No. 601 as his Heat (33-30) are set to visit the Cleveland Cavaliers (21-42).
Miami, which has won five of its past seven games, will be the more rested team. The Heat haven’t played since Wednesday while Cleveland lost to the Washington Wizards, 122-93, on Friday night.
Cleveland has lost five straight games.
The Heat have lost four of their past five road games, and only three of their final nine contests this season are at home. Overall this season, the Heat are 14-16 on the road.
Cleveland has been much better at home this season (12-18) as opposed to on the road (9-24).
Spoelstra is hoping that this rest — two straight days off for the first time for Miami since April 9-10 — will help injured guard Tyler Herro get back on the court.
Herro has missed three straight games due to a sore right foot.
“As far as anything structurally wrong,” Spoelstra said, “he’s clear of that.”
Herro, third on the team in scoring (14.9), is needed for the shooting he provides. Jimmy Butler leads the Heat in scoring (21.7), assists (7.2) and steals (2.1).
With Herro out, it’s critical that Miami gets perimeter shooting from Duncan Robinson (40.2 percent on three-pointers), Kendrick Nunn (38.2 percent) and Goran Dragic (35.7).
For the Cavaliers, Kevin Love is emblematic of Cleveland’s struggles. The five-time All-Star has battled injuries this season and entered the weekend averaging 11.4 points and 6.6 rebounds.
Outside of his rookie season, Love, 32, hasn’t had a year in which he averaged less than 14.0 points or 9.3 rebounds, but he is on par to do both of those things in this campaign.
Love, who had no points and 10 rebounds in 22 minutes on Friday, said he has faith in coach J.B. Bickerstaff.
“I’ll ride or die for J.B. and our coaching staff,” Love said. “I’ll ride and die for our young guys.”
Those young guys include 6-11 center Jarrett Allen, 23; 6-1 guard Collin Sexton, 22; 6-1 guard Darius Garland, 22; and 6-5 wing Isaac Okoro, 20.
All four were first-round picks, and they represent the core of the Cavaliers’ future.
Sexton, who had missed three straight games due to a concussion, returned to the lineup on Friday and scored a game-high 22 points.
The Cavaliers, who play eight of their final 10 games at home, still have plenty of other injuries, including wing Taurean Prince, who will miss the rest of the season due to surgery on his left ankle.
In addition, forward Larry Nance Jr. (fractured right thumb) and guard Matthew Dellavedova (neck) have been out.
–Field Level Media
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