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Coronavirus: Spoelstra's Miami Heat 'extremely motivated' ahead of NBA return

Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said his team are "extremely motivated" in their pursuit of glory ahead of the NBA's return.

The coronavirus pandemic forced the 2019-20 NBA season to be postponed in March, but the league is set to restart in July.

The NBA has confirmed plans for 22 teams to relaunch the 2019-20 season, with a tentative resumption date of July 31.

Teams are set to stay at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida and have all their games and practices on the campus after the NBA's Board of Governors approved proposals for a restart after the COVID-19 crisis.

The Heat are among the 22 teams due to head to Florida as one of the 16 franchises that occupied playoff spots when the season was halted, with the six teams that are within six games of the eighth and final seeds in the Eastern and Western Conferences also set for Walt Disney World Resort.

"I think our team is extremely motivated to get back at this," Spoelstra told reporters on a teleconference call on Saturday.

"These have been extreme circumstances these last two months-plus. And our guys have done a really commendable job of staying physically fit. But it is a challenge when you don't know whether we're going to start back up or not, or you don't necessarily know what date that it could be.

"Well, now, this gives us a little bit of specificity, and I think everybody is starting to get excited. And you're able to wrap your mind around a concept of replaying."

The Heat (41-24) were fourth in the Eastern Conference, behind the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks (53-12), defending champions the Toronto Raptors (46-18) and the Boston Celtics (43-21), and ahead of the Indiana Pacers (39-26) and Philadelphia 76ers (39-26).

"Will it be different? Yes. It's also exciting, I think," Spoelstra said. "A lot of people could use sports right now, NBA basketball and competition on TV.

"You know, I've heard it probably like anybody else, 'Well, does this mean the World Championship this year, there will be an asterisk next to it?' Yeah, I think, if you can make it through all of this and be worthy of winning that championship and really earning it, this will be one that'll probably be remembered more than any other. It has been that kind of year, this year."