You would be lying if you did not think for at least a second that Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat were collectively a dead man walking the moment they got matched up against the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs. It looked as though it got worse for them when Tyler Herro suffered a hand injury that has caused him to miss all but one game so far in the postseason. But here we are, still in a world where the Heat are alive, albeit barely, in the 2023 NBA Finals against the juggernauts from the West that are the Denver Nuggets.
Whether the Heat manage to extend the Finals beyond Game 5, they deserve to hear how much basketball fans revere them for punching above their weight and pulling off one of the most captivating playoff runs ever not just in the NBA but in all of sports.
The Other Guys
This has been mentioned throughout the 2023 NBA Playoffs Ad nauseam: the Heat have exceeded expectations, thanks in large part to their bunch of undrafted players who have mostly performed in the postseason way above their pay grades. The foursome of Gabe Vincent, Caleb Martin, Max Strus, and Duncan Robinson have all been so crucial to Miami’s run. Jimmy Butler is the spiritual and on-court leader of the Heat, but they would not have gotten past the first round, let alone reach the biggest stage in the NBA, without those four players you wouldn’t even bother to add to your 8-team fantasy league squad.
The Heat have caused the expulsion of Mike Budenholzer from the Bucks after their incredible first-round upset series win against Milwaukee. Budenholzer probably would still be coaching Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks if he did not have to play chess against Spoelstra, who is proving over and over again in the playoffs that he’s one of the best coaches not just today but of all time. There’s only so much a coach could do to help his team from the sidelines, but you got to feel that Spoelstra has been maxing out everything a coach can do in order to will a big underdog of a team to consecutive upset series wins in the playoffs, including ones against the No. 1 overall seed in the NBA and the then reigning Eastern Conference champions.
Regardless of how the 2023 NBA Finals will conclude, Butler deserves everyone’s flowers. He is the perfect star to lead an undermanned team like the Heat. He’s got that nothing-to-lose mentality and is simply unbothered by the outside noise. When he dropped 56 points against the Bucks in the first round, people knew. PEOPLE KNEW.