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Erik Spoelstra, Miami Heat return to Eastern Conference Finals

Steve Angeles | TFC News Los Angeles

Posted at May 16 2023 09:31 PM

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The Miami Heat returns to the Eastern Conference Finals following a hard fought six-game series against the New York Knicks.

Head Coach Erik Spoelstra is now four wins away from a return to the NBA finals.

This will be his seventh time in the Filipino-American's 15-year head coaching career to lead the Heat to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Since Spoelstra took over as head coach in 2008, the Heat has gone to the finals five times to win two championships.

This year, Miami entered the postseason through the play-in tournament and were five minutes away from elimination.

But after outlasting the Bulls in the play-in game, they upset the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in five games, then outlasted the Knicks in a six-game series.

There’s been nothing easy about this season," Spoelstra said. "That proved to be true in our closeout game, that was an absolute grind."

Spoelstra added: "We all tip our hats to the New York Organization. They’ve had a phenomenal year. This series is everything we expected it to be: competitive and physical."

It has been a year of milestones for Spoelstra. He became the 20th coach in NBA history to pick up 700 career wins in March, moving into the Top 20 wins list.

Miami Heat's Erik Spoelstra secures epic 700th NBA career

In the postseason, he won his 100th playoff game and now sits at the fifth spot.

Eight more wins will not only get him a third NBA championship, but will also put him in fourth place for all-time playoff coaching wins.

"We don’t take any of this for granted," Spoelstra added. "It is hard to win in this league. But when you get to one step like this, you have great gratitude because there are a lot of teams that want to be in this position."

Spoelstra and the Miami Heat will get a few days of rest before the Eastern Conference Finals tip off in Boston.

In 2022, Boston outlasted the Heat 4-3 en route to the NBA finals.