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Miami Heat Monday Practice Report: Wade, O'Neal and Spoelstra speak

Monday's practice at the American Airlines Arena proved a somewhat lighthearted affair afterwards with all the good vibes a lengthy winning streak brings. Jermaine O'Neal playfully teased Dwyane Wade while he was speaking to the media with O'Neal swiping a reporter's microphone to give an impromptu interview. But there was also still work to be done and as coach Erik Spoelstra addressed the media several players remained on the court to work on their game. Michael Beasley went against newcomers Alade Aminu and Kenny Hasbrouck, who today signed a new contract with the Heat for the rest of the season, on one end as James Jones, Yakhouba Diawara and Jamaal Magloire individually worked on their own at different baskets. Here are some choice soundbites from Monday's media session. Erik Spoelstra On equaling the win total from last season
That’s not the ultimate goal. Certainly finishing with a better record (than last year) is a bonus but it’s a small bonus. We’ve got to continue to focus and win each game as we get them and get the best possible seeding.
On the flight situation as the Heat were trying to get back home
It’s a scary situation. Our safety was always a #1 priority but our thoughts and prayers go out to him and it was scary to see a person under that condition. But by the time we landed he was already starting to come around and he felt much better. And we’re always thinking safety first so when they told me that we were going to land in Chicago they told me it was probably not necessary but we should just in case even though he’s feeling better but you just never know. And it was an easy decision. I said, ‘Absolutely, let’s land this plane and make sure that he’s fine.’ As far as us it felt no different than anywhere else flying and landing. We all knew what was going on and we took off as fast as we came.
Dwyane Wade On the Miami Heat's early season struggles in light of the current winning streak
We could have been better all year. We let a lot of games slide. I was looking at the standings and I see last night Boston had 47 wins and I said, ‘ You know what? That could have easily been us as well if we had taken care of business earlier in the season.' But you know it wasn’t our destiny at the time.
On potential first round match-ups
I don’t really care. It’s going to be a tough matchup no matter who we play and we’re going to be the underdogs no matter who we play. I watched the Boston game yesterday and the commentators were already talking about Boston in the second round and that they can beat Orlando or Cleveland. But certain people forget about the first round. We’ll take that and use it for motivation to go out there and prove that, even though we’re underdogs, that we’re going to be a team that’s going to be reckoned with for seven games.
On the media and his supporting cast
They’re going to underestimate our team. They’re going to say, ‘Superstars in the playoffs cancel each other out and it’s what everyone else can do.’ And that’s true. I look at that for my teammates and it’s another challenge that they’re presented with as we go into the playoffs. Hopefully they’re ready to step up to the billing.
About using last year’s playoff experience as motivation
Well, last year is last year but at the same time you have to use the motivation from losing a game seven in the first round. You feel like you could have played a lot better and you never know what could have happened. But we had opportunities to go up 3-1 in that (Atlanta Hawks) series but we let it slip at home. But you take that but as well you forget about it and you move forward knowing that you might not be playing the same team or we might be playing a different style of team and we’re a different team.
Jermaine O'Neal On the team's defensive improvements from earlier in the year
We’ve talked about it all year. We rely on our defense to determine our game, not just our offense. And that’s one thing we struggled with most of the year. Now we get it and everybody’s pretty focused on what we should do individually as a player and as a teammate.
On his knee (and a dig on the Indiana Pacers medical staff?)
Actually, strength-wise I’m a lot further ahead then what I thought I was. I’m probably at about 90%. I’m going to practice tomorrow and we’re going to see what I could do in a game. The swelling is almost completely gone. There’s still a little bit there but I want to get back out there to have some time to get rhythm. I had a great rhythm going before the injury but our teammates, you know, we can lean on those guys. I know they’re going to put me in a position to get back comfortable. I don’t think I’m that far away. Obviously cardio-wise I’m not working that for a long time but I feel like I’m ready to go. It’s very important to me (to get back before the playoffs). That’s what I talk about every day with the doctors on when I can get back in the court. This staff has been the best I’ve seen in my 14 years as far as the medical staff, trainers, and doctors. They will not have you go out there, no matter what you want to do; they won’t allow you to walk out unless they feel like you’re capable of playing at a level that’s going to do it for myself and do it for the team. So I really appreciate that because sometimes you don’t see that in professional sports. Sometimes they tend to just throw you out there and just let you find your way.
Stay tuned for more from Monday's practice coming soon.