Luol Deng offered up no excuses after the Miami Heat’s game seven loss in Toronto – and no clues as to where free agency might take him this summer.
Deng, who suffered a wrist injury in game five but fought through it in the final two games, scored 12 points on 4-for-9 shooting in the series decider. The Raptors outscored Miami 30-11 in the fourth quarter as the visitors ran out of steam, losing 116-89.
Though the Heat’s injury woes forced the team into smaller line-ups for much of the series, Deng insisted that Miami had not dwelled on the absence of big men Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside.
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“We all know we’re a better team with those guys but you don’t think that way,” he said. “You battle with the guys that you have and you go out and play.
“It was game seven, with two very close teams. This is obviously why you play during the season to have home court. Even though we won one here, they came back and took one [in Miami]. When it comes down to game seven, it’s very difficult to win on the road.
“I don’t want to say anything is difficult. We’ve had guys down and we’ve changed things up. But we just go out there and play hard. We don’t try to make excuses.”
Deng enters free agency this summer as a versatile 12-year veteran with a proven playoff track record, first with the Chicago Bulls and now in Miami – the type of addition that would be attractive to any title contender.
Of course, he may not be going anywhere, especially given his emphasis on the close-knit nature of the Heat locker room. But Miami’s own off-season plans remain unclear, with a handful of players out of contract.
“I’m not there yet,” head coach Erik Spoelstra said postgame when asked about summer roster moves. “I’ve really enjoyed developing the relationships with these guys, the veterans that we had and the young guys.”
With the dust barely settled on the Heat’s playoff exit, Deng was quick to echo Spoelstra in explaining that he would not be turning his attention to the free agency process just yet.
“I’m not going to think about anything right now,” Deng said. “When that time comes, I’ll figure out what my next plan is.
“It hurts that our season has ended. I thought we battled through a lot.”