The Miami Heat’s 2023-24 NBA season is over. They were manhandled by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs, 4-1, losing by 20, 20, 14, and 34 points. It differed from their intense series in 2020, 2022, and 2023.

There may be a valid excuse for the Heat as they were missing two starters: franchise cornerstone and the team’s heart and soul Jimmy Butler and recent acquisition Terry Rozier. However, they only have themselves to blame. Head coach Erik Spoelstra and his boys have been messing around for much of the last five seasons, perhaps being too trusting of their playoff abilities.


Miami made the NBA Finals in 2020 and 2023 as a 5th seed and 8th seed, respectively. Though they failed to win the title on both occasions, it was accompanied by memorable runs that saw them knock off the top-seeded team.

While it is a good watch from a fan perspective, it’s starting to look like having such postseason magic has done more bad than good. It has become a norm that the Heat will sleepwalk their way into the regular season and just turn on the jets late, either towards the tailend or right at the start of the playoffs.

Sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t. Here’s a quick look:

  • In 2019-20, they were solid all season, but finished 4-7 in their last 11 regular season games. Then, they racked up 4-0, 4-1, and 4-2 series wins all the way to the NBA Finals in the Bubble, where they lost, 4-2, to the Los Angeles Lakers.
  • In 2020-21, they were unable to make it above .500 until game 37 of the 72-game season. They finished 8-2 in their last 10 regular season games but proceeded to get swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Milwaukee Bucks, who won by an average of 20.5 points.
  • In 2022-23, they never won or lost four consecutive games all season. In the play-in, they lost the battle for the 7th seed and needed a late-game rally to lock the 8th seed. Then, they once again reached the NBA Finals after beating the conference’s first, second, and fourth seeds. They eventually lost to the Denver Nuggets, 4-1.
  • This year, 2023-24, they had five separate stretches of either winning or losing at least four in a row. They lost the battle for the 7th seed and settled for the 8th seed, which got them booted out of the opening round again – the second time in four years.

The 2021-22 campaign was probably ideal, where they finished 53-29, number one in the East, and was basically one shot away from a Finals berth. It allowed a less strenuous road, so unlike most other seasons, their players weren’t getting hurt every other game.

Whether it really works for them or not, there’s no question it’s affecting their play while deep in the run. Their 2020 and 2023 Eastern Conference titles had them pile up mileage, so they were gasping for air by the time the finals arrive, which is also on top of going face-to-face with a championship caliber opponent, which in those cases were the LeBron James-led Lakers and Nikola Jokic-led Nuggets, two certified all-time greats of the sport.

There’s an extended time to reflect on yet another hot-and-cold season. Let’s see if the Heat plan something nice for next season.