The Miami Heat are just one win away from advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals, and a lot of players on the roster have played important roles in getting that far.
One such player is without a doubt guard Victor Oladipo. At one point, it was not even clear that Oladipo would have a spot in the team’s playoff rotation. However, in recent games, he’s become a common sight on the floor for Miami.
Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra recently spoke about Oladipo and went into detail in terms of what the veteran player has done to earn his respect. He began by discussing how Oladipo’s role for the Heat has been very different from the roles he’s had at other stops in his career.
“I think the biggest story about Vic is the commitment to get his body right, get him mentally, physically, emotionally ready,” Spoelstra said. “And then to be vulnerable, just to be available.
“I’ve said this many times, but there are not a lot of players that would do that, that put themselves out there for the team if you’re not guaranteed a specific role. And this role is different than who he’s been when he’s been at the top of his game. He’s a go-to player. And you’re talking about a full-time starter and an All-Star player, All-NBA, like leading the league in steals. Like all of these things are that of a one or two option. And here he’s playing a totally different role.”
Despite the change, Spoelstra sees that Oladipo is doing everything he can to make the most of the role that he does have within the Heat’s playoff lineup.
“He’s embracing it,” Spoelstra said. “It’s growing by the week. But I think it’s a big-time credit to his competitive character and his willingness just to give to the team, regardless of whether that fits exactly who he was before.
“And he’s shown, if he has those opportunities, in terms of usage, he can be who he was before. And at times, we do need that. At times we need him to fill other roles. And he’s embraced all of that.”
Finally, Spoelstra made it clear that it has been Oladipo’s flexibility and willingness to do whatever he can to help the team that has impressed the veteran head coach so much.
“That’s why I respect him so much,” Spoelstra said. “I admire him for that. This is also the first time he’s been part of a team that’s been out of the first round. And he’s just soaking this all in. And he just wants to give and help and serve.
“Wouldn’t we all be better if we were all like that in our daily occupations, no matter what we do?”
Early on in the playoffs, it appeared as though Oladipo would watch the Heat’s entire run from the bench. He didn’t log a single minute in the team’s first three postseason games.
However, he played in Game 4 of the Heat’s series against the Atlanta Hawks, and in Game 5, he had one of his best performances of the season, dropping 23 points, three assists and three steals.
Since then, he’s logged three double-digit scoring efforts in five games. His playing time has fluctuated greatly from game to game depending on what the team needs, and Oladipo seems unbothered by it all. He’s simply doing whatever he can to help his team win.
So far, it’s working.