Adversity rarely fazes the Miami Heat.
Coming off an NBA Finals appearance in the Orlando bubble, the shortened offseason likely contributed to the sluggish start to the Heat’s 2020-2021 season. Early losses to the teams they took down in the postseason bubble only added fuel to the fire and made it seem as if they would get left behind by the best in the East.
Those that read between the lines knew, though, that this wasn’t the case.
Miami found their stride by February and have won 10 of their last 13 games. They punctuated this run with an old-fashioned 106-94 whooping of the Philadelphia 76ers.
Jimmy Butler, who left their game against the Celtics the other day with an eye injury, looked good as he led the Heat with 21 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and a steal. He was backed up by Bam Adebayo’s 18 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists and a block. As usual, it was a team effort that involved six Heat players scoring in double figures.
The remaining games in their schedule should be a treat for them knowing that they are now peaking at the right time.
|Opponent||Next Matchup (PH time)||Current Seed in Conference||20-21 Season Series||Result of the Last Matchup|
|Milwaukee Bucks||May 16||3rd (East)||1-1||Win, 119-108|
|Detroit Pistons||May 17||15th (East)||1-1||Win, 113-107|
It’d be best to take the results against the two teams left on their schedule with a grain of salt considering that the three-time NBA champions last played these teams back in January. There has been significant player movement since then and rotations have changed since the season opened so the circumstances between then and now are quite different.
Miami can use their final two matchups to finish getting everyone into playoff mode. The Milwaukee Bucks are hoping to overtake the Brooklyn Nets in the race for the (ideally) more favorable second seed. The game against the last-place Detroit Pistons, on the second night of a back-to-back set could provide an opportunity to rest key starters, especially now that the Heat have a guaranteed playoff spot.
If there’s anything that Miami’s run in the Orlando bubble taught us, it’s that you can never count the Heat out. Head coach Erik Spoelstra has been able to maximize the abilities of his players and has weaved them all together in schemes that wreak havoc on their opponents. It also helps that the continuity and the synergy between Miami team president Pat Riley has helped institutionalize the “Heat culture” and its effect on both the players and the team as a whole.
Butler, who seems to have been tailor made for the team’s culture, is the perfect leader to rally the troops and push everyone else to the best of their abilities. Adebayo is the young upcoming franchise cornerstone that gives them a versatile offensive option and an agile defensive anchor. Herro, Nunn, and Robinson are among the perfect complements to both Adebayo and Butler on the wings. Let’s not forget wily veterans Goran Dragic and Andre Iguodala, who have both stepped up in big moments in past postseasons.
No other team exemplifies the phrase ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ than the Heat. It helps that the players they acquire and develop have the ability to adapt, but it also boils down to the intangibles. The buy-in towards the aforementioned “Heat culture” has transcended player status and generations and the results speak for themselves. Their six finals appearances in the last 15 years are the most during that span of time, trailing only LeBron James’ 10 trips to the finals.
Now that their postseason fate is somewhat set in stone, the excitement towards the Miami Heat’s playoff outlook is building up. While they do take a game-to-game approach like most of the NBA, they also understand that a single loss or setback is not the be-all or end-all. It’s how you bounce back that matters.
The one thing that sucks for the Heat is the news that Victor Oladipo will undergo season-ending knee surgery on his right quadriceps tendon. He never got a chance to get in groove with the Heat after the trade, and his talent is undeniable.
Knowing the Heat, though, they’ll just use it as further motivation to do well.