The Miami Heat are showing out in the playoffs, and they’ve put the league on notice. After sweeping the Indiana Pacers in the first round, they casually dominated the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, 4-1.
It’s been a great run that has allowed the boys from South Beach to showcase their team identity in its purest form. It leaves you wanting more too (unless you’re a Pacers or Bucks fan, probably) because there’s lot to admire about how they approach the game.
Let’s list down the reasons why the surging Miami Heat are interesting to watch:
While many teams are able to distribute the offense well, only the Toronto Raptors can really rival what the Heat can do in terms of scattering the scoring opportunities. Seven players are averaging between 12 and 20 points per game, and the top three – Jimmy Butler (19.9), Goran Dragic (16.2), and Bam Adebayo (15.9) – are also the most prolific facilitators as they are all dishing out more than five assists per game.
Additionally, six of the seven have scored 25 or more points multiple times in the season, and five of the seven have scored 30 or more at least once.
Watching a team efficiently distribute the ball or find the right man for a score is always a good watch. They just go with the hot hand every game. You want to see a team have multiple surprise weapons that are able to drop 20-30 points at any given day.
There’s a certain, solid mix of blue-collar, no nonsense, team-oriented basketball, a style that balances the excitement of a run-and-gun team and the physicality of a defensive team. It’s pretty rare for any team to gather and balance such characteristics, which amplifies its goodness even further.
You want outside shooting? There’s Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro, Goran Dragic, Jae Crowder, and Kendrick Nunn, who are all averaging above two threes per game.
You want hustle and defense? There’s Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo leading everyone. Both are certified two-way players – and you know Butler got robbed of an All-Defensive selection this year.
You want above-the-rim action? Derrick Jones Jr. can provide that any time, with Butler and Adeabyo joining the whenever they please.
You want some fast-paced attack? Dragic, Nunn, and Butler can lead the way, and they’re equipped to attack the rim, find the bigs in the paint, or break the defense down and kick it out for a three.
The Heat are like chameleons as they can shift styles or adapt to the right style in a snap, and there’s a certain appeal to that. It’s like watching the styles of the mid-2000s Detroit Pistons, Grit N’ Grind Memphis Grizzlies, and the Hampton 5 Golden State Warriors be played on one team.
THE “CHIP ON MY SHOULDER” ENERGY IS EVERYWHERE
This is one of the things that helps the Heat separate themselves from other team-oriented teams. The main rotation is a cast of first-round picks and afterthoughts that feel like they were disrespected in the draft, as well as some veterans that have unexpectedly bounced around, and thus, play with a certain attitude.
Here’s how each man in the rotation placed in their respective drafts:
- Tyler Herro – 13th pick in 2019
- Duncan Robinson – Undrafted in 2018
- Kendrick Nunn – Undrafted in 2018
- Bam Adebayo – 14th pick in 2017
- Derrick Jones Jr. – Undrafted in 2016
- Jae Crowder – 34th pick in 2012, always used as a trade chip despite being a consistent ‘3 and D’ guy.
- Jimmy Butler – 30th pick in 2011, kept getting labelled as a disruptive locker room presence.
- Goran Dragic – 45th pick in 2008, got traded by the Houston Rockets and Phoenix Suns (twice) despite strong seasons.
THEY’RE INGRAINED WITH PAT RILEY’S BASKETBALL DNA
It’s been passed on to current head coach, Erik Spoelstra, and he’s rubbing it off everyone who enters the Heat culture. It’s an awesome basketball DNA to absorb.
Former coach and current team president Pat Riley is a winner and a basketball genius. He, too, has proven to be capable of reinventing himself, going from developing a finesse, showtime team with the Los Angeles Lakers, to molding physical, in-your-face, bullies with the New York Knicks, and then mixing both of those with the Heat.
Every Pat Riley team has also had one defining trait: they don’t go out to make friends on the court. That attitude hasn’t been great for their opponents, but it’s been good for basketball fans.