The Miami Heat have been well-coached since the hiring of head coach Erik Spoelstra back in 2008. He’s coached his team to a 39-34 record this season this season, and is on pace to have his seventh winning season in just under 10 years of experience.
On Sunday afternoon, however, the Miami Heat are set to be without their head coach for the first time in almost 10 years. With the Heat taking on the Indiana Pacers on the road, coach Erik Spoelstra is back in Miami with his wife, Nikki, in a hospital and awaiting their first child together, expected to be a boy, per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald
Jackson reports that assistant coach Dan Craig will be the acting head coach for Sunday’s matchup between the Heat and Pacers, two teams desperately fighting for playoff positioning in the final few weeks of the season. Coach Craig spoke with members of the media ahead of his first game as a head coach, saying that his experience as the 2015-16 championship coach of the Heat’s G-League affiliate Sioux Falls Skyforce certainly helps.
“I don’t think it will be much different,” he said before Sunday’s game. “All of the assistants were echoing Spo’s voice and his message. We walked through a lot of stuff that he showed on film and then also this morning, just the takeaways from yesterday and Spo’s message to the team.
“You know you’ve been there. You’ve done it. You have to rewind two years. You have the confidence you can step in and lead for Spo.”
According to Jackson, assistant coach Craig also missed a game about a month ago due to the birth of his child, so he understands the excitement, responsibility, and every other wave of emotions that come with having a child.
“Spo is right where he needs to be. He’s there for his wife Nikki. Obviously, it’s a really exciting time for them. The team is excited, the staff is excited. I was there just a month ago for my son Will. From a perspective standpoint, this is great, exciting for Spo. The team is obviously understanding. We’re just anxiously awaiting some news.”
Spoelstra is expected to be back on the sidelines when the Heat host the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night. Spoelstra is aiming to continue his success as the Heat’s coach, a career that’s seen only had one losing season in his nine years as their coach. That losing season came following the departure of LeBron James in the 2014-15 season where Chris Bosh played just 44-of-82 games and Dwyane Wade played 62-of-82.