BOSTON — Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra didn’t take a victory lap when he got to the podium for his postgame press conference after Miami dispatched the Boston Celtics in seven games on Monday night in the Eastern Conference finals.
Instead, Spoelstra used his opening minutes to salute a Celtics organization that tumbled to the finish line with a 103-84 loss on their home floor.
“Let me first say this about Boston: I mentioned it out there to (TNT broadcaster) Ernie (Johnson), but we tip our hat to the Celtics organization. They are first-class,” Spoelstra said. “Pat (Riley) feels a certain way about Boston, so I make sure that everybody feels a certain way about Boston. Part of my job is the caretaker. With that said, there’s great respect for them as competitors. And they are first class. You look across the way just in terms of their ownership group, Brad (Stevens) and Joe (Mazzulla) and his coaching staff. They’re good people and they’re a class organization.”
The Celtics and Heat know all too well the feeling of one of their season’s coming to an end at the hands of the other. It was the third time in the last four seasons the two sides met in the conference finals with the Heat now claiming two of those series.
But Spoelstra believes Miami doesn’t get back to the NBA Finals without the Celtics pushing them and without the reminder of Boston celebrating a Game 7 victory in the East finals last season on the Heat’s home court.
“What happened last year obviously was on our mind and it drove us this year,” Spoelstra said. “And that’s what you always hope for from competition that they can drive you to a higher level. And I think that’s what you saw in the series this year to be able to overcome a lot of stuff.”