Erik Spoelstra: NBA Finals Appearances by the Miami Heat Champion Coach

Erik Spoelstra: NBA Finals Appearances by the Miami Heat Champion Coach

Joel Reyes
May 31, 2023 at 1:50 PM
  • Erik Spoelstra and the Miami Heat reached four straight NBA Finals from 2011 to 2014
  • Spoelstra and the Heat returned to the NBA Finals in 2020 inside the Orlando bubble
  • Spoelstra reached his sixth NBA Finals with the Miami Heat in 2023

Erik Spoelstra has done it again.

The Filipino-American coach advanced to the NBA Finals for the sixth time in 13 years after leading the Miami Heat past the Boston Celtics in a gripping seven-game series.

Sports Brief looks at Spoelstra’s five previous trips to the NBA Finals ahead of their championship showdown with the Denver Nuggets.

Erik Spoelstra, Miami Heat, LeBron James, Jimmy Butler, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets, Nikola Jokic
Erik Spoelstra reacts during the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Image: Elsa
Source: Getty Images

2011 NBA Finals

Spoelstra’s first NBA Finals stint with the Heat came in 2011. Many expected Miami to win the championship with LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade joining forces that season.

The Heat looked to be on their way to the title after building a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs had other ideas as they came storming back, per Sports Illustrated.

Dallas won the next three games to capture their first-ever NBA title.

2012 NBA Finals

The pressure was mounting on Spoelstra to deliver the championship to Miami in the 2011-12 season. It is always championship or bust when you have the Big Three of James, Wade, and Bosh in your starting lineup.

The Heat came close to being eliminated in the Eastern Conference Finals as they headed to Boston for Game 6, trailing 3-2 in the series.

Fortunately for Spoelstra, LeBron played the game of his life in that contest. He scored 45 points, grabbed 15 rebounds, and dished out five assists to help the Heat force a winner-take-all Game 7, per ESPN.

The Heat beat the Celtics in seven games and set up a Finals showdown with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

They were tested by the Thunder, who were led by future league MVPs Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook.

But James and co. were too much for OKC’s young stars, as Miami won the NBA Finals 4-1.

It was a historic achievement for Spoelstra, who became the first Asian-American coach to win an NBA title.

2013 NBA Finals

Spoelstra and the Heat reached their third straight NBA Finals after outlasting the Indiana Pacers in seven games in the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals.

They set up a titanic clash with the San Antonio Spurs, with Spoelstra going head-to-head against four-time champion coach Gregg Popovich.

The Spurs entered Game 6 with a 3-2 series advantage. The Heat looked to be on their way out as they trailed the Spurs by five points in the final minute.

Missed free throws and a miracle three by Ray Allen in the closing seconds sent the game into overtime, where Miami eventually pulled off the win.

The Heat and the Spurs played a classic in the winner-take-all Game 7. LeBron James stepped up, scoring 37 points to lead Miami to a 95-88 win.

With the victory, Spoelstra captured his second consecutive title.

2014 NBA Finals

Spoelstra and the Heat returned to the Finals for the fourth straight year. They faced the Spurs again in a rematch of the 2013 Finals.

The Spurs were on a mission to get the title they had painfully lost the previous year. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard, and the rest of the Spurs stamped their class against the Heat, beating them 4-1 in the Finals.

Spoelstra’s Finals record dropped to 2-2 following the series loss to San Antonio.

2020 NBA Finals

LeBron decided to leave Miami and head back to Cleveland following the Heat’s Finals loss in 2014.

The balance of power in the East shifted to the Cavs, with James back playing for his old team.

It took the Heat six years to return to the Finals, and they did it inside the Orlando bubble.

The COVID pandemic forced teams to play the rest of the regular season and the playoffs in a controlled environment in Florida.

Spoelstra faced his old player in the Finals with James, now part of the Los Angeles Lakers. Jimmy Butler and the rest of the Heat fell short in their title bid, with LA winning the Finals 4-2.

Spoelstra’s Finals record dropped to 2-3 following the series loss to the Lakers.

Miami thwarts Boston's comeback bid

Sports Brief recently reported on the Heat’s win over the Celtics in Game 7.

Jimmy Butler and Caleb Martin starred for Miami in the winner-take-all contest.

They combined for 54 points in the Heat’s 103-84 victory.

Joel Reyes photo
Joel Reyes
Editor- Other Sports