You might think that the Miami Heat lost Game 4 of their Eastern Conference finals game against the Indiana Pacers because they were outrebounded by 19, because they missed most of their open corner threes, because LeBron James fouled out when that never happens or because the Pacers scored more points. And really, these are all good reasons for why the Heat failed to take a 3-1 lead on their way back to Miami.
However, listening to head coach Erik Spoelstra tell it, there was a bigger reason than any of those things. From the Sun Sentinel:
“Playoffs are about overcoming everything,” said Spoelstra, who added that Bosh and James would receive treatment but no other medical update was available.
“We didn’t necessarily play well. We didn’t get to our identity. We had massive foul trouble all across the board and we have a 3-point lead down the stretch in an opponent’s building and plays to be made to finish off that game.
“We didn’t. They made more plays down the stretch and typically the team that deserves to win does.” [...]
“They played with a greater sense of urgency. They made more plays going down the stretch and for that matter during the course of he game, not only offensive rebounds, but loose balls, effort plays, impact plays, imposing plays.
“Sometimes there’s a karma to the game, so they beat us down the stretch. There’s no excuses, nothing else to it other than that.”
Yes, true, there are like 19 billion reasons that Spoelstra listed that contributed to the Heat loss, but the thing that there is “nothing else to it other than that” is the “karma to the game.” Which means, I guess, that the Heat lost because of karma. And if you consider all those things that Spoelstra mentioned — not playing Heat basketball, tons of fouls, failing to make plays at the end of the game, not hustling for 50-50 balls — as karma, then I guess he is right.
And to be honest, I can kind of see where he’s coming from. Those various reasons the Heat lost could all be considered “bad basketball,” it could be argued, and if you spend an entire game making bad basketball plays, then I guess that is against what the basketball gods want to see and therefore you’re going to have bad karma and lose. I think that is the point, though I never did get around to taking Comparative Religions in college. At the very least, what Spoelstra is getting at is a tried-and-true lesson that we’ve seen thousands of times in the NBA. Some people call it “playing the right way,” Spoelstra calls it karma. If a team doesn’t care to do the little things, he seems to be saying, there’s not going to be a big payoff in the end.
Or maybe I’m wrong and Spoelstra really is blaming things solely on the Heat having bad karma. Though you would think that gifting an opponent with 15 free offensive rebounds is generous enough to win them a few points.