• Joe Makar

How the Miami Heat Have Rewritten Preseason Narratives

Updated: Oct 4, 2020

The Miami Heat have surpassed even the most optimistic expectations that were placed upon them. They shocked the world following their series win over the Milwaukee Bucks, the team with the best record in the NBA and the back to back MVP. 

There are many reasons why the Heat have been so successful, but it starts with one of the more underrated coaches in history, Erik Spoelstra. Spoelstra has his players buying into the same philosophies and has also developed genuine relationships with his team. He is one of the key reasons why Duncan Robinson went from a Division III player to one of the best three-point shooters in the league.

The Heat are one cohesive unit, Jimmy Butler is undisputedly their best player, but the team has no true alpha. Butler is more concerned about the success of his team than getting his own, which shows us his true colors and selfless personality despite how the media may portray him. 

Before the season began, most NBA analysts had this team exiting in the second round, and some even had them as the eight seed while barely making the playoffs. 

That is why this team has been so impressive, because very few envisioned this team making the conference finals, especially with the Bucks in their path of their quest for a title. 

This is a fearless team of gritty players who all play with a chip on their shoulders and refuse to back down to a challenge. They have proven that they can go toe to toe with anyone in the league.

The postseason in the NBA bubble has exposed a handful of All Stars in a negative aspect. Players such as Giannis Antetokounmpo and Paul George received scrutiny for their vastly underperforming teams. In the Heat’s case, their star player has done the opposite. 

The loudest narrative that surrounded the Heat throughout the regular season was that Jimmy Butler is an elite player, but he cannot be your number one option on a championship team. 

One main takeaway from the restart is that basketball in the NBA bubble is very different to what the players have been accustomed to their whole playing careers. There are no fans, no true home court advantage, and no exterior factors that influence the final score of the game. Perhaps this has worked to their advantage, as the five seeded Heat would experience more games on the road had the playoffs played out in typical fashion.

The Heat have also done a tremendous job at finding talent in the late lottery as well as through undrafted players and the G-League. Many young members of the Heat who are now difference makers were not taken in the top 10 of their respective draft classes. Tyler Herro was drafted 13th, Bam Adebayo was drafted 14th, while Duncan Robinson and Kendrick Nunn were undrafted and worked their way up through the G-League. 

Pat Riley established this Heat team not with talent that was a surefire bet entering the league, but with players who oozed potential that was waiting to be unraveled.

The scouting department of the organization should not go unnoticed. While there are some teams that are consistently drafting high in the lottery with little success and results, the Heat have proven that it’s not about where you draft, but how you draft. 

Many jumped off the Heat bandwagon in 2014, when LeBron James took his talents back home to Cleveland, but this deep postseason run is exactly what the Heat needed to build another perennial contender. Miami was already viewed as a desirable destination for free agents due to their big market location, warm weather and nightlife, franchise history, and winning culture. Add to that their stellar postseason Cinderella run which has only helped their case to attract the top talent around the league. 

When you examine the way this roster was constructed, it’s easy to see why they have been so successful with how the modern NBA has been revolutionized.

The focal points of their team are a two way star in Jimmy Butler, a versatile defending big man who specializes in the pick and roll in Bam Adebayo, a veteran point guard who can score at all three levels and set up his teammates in Goran Dragić, and lethal shooters in Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro, and Jae Crowder. They are balanced on both offense and defense and are a foe that commands the respect of the most elite teams in the league.

One player that should be highlighted is Tyler Herro, the 20-year old rookie out of Kentucky. In game four of the Eastern Conference Finals, Herro dropped 37 points on the Boston Celtics, the second highest playoff scoring performance for a player under 21 years old trailing only Magic Johnson’s 42-point outing. He has provided a consistent and reliable scoring punch off the bench and is fearless when it comes to taking the big shot in crunch time or scoring on elite defenders.

This shocking playoff run has shown us that the Heat have a handful of players who can show out on any given night. No player on this roster feels the need to take over by themselves and boost their stats. They buy into a winning culture and are perfectly fine with deferring a good shot to the open man, often found on the perimeter. Miami is fearless, relentless, scrappy, and determined. Other contending teams in the East who were in their path such as the Bucks and Celtics have discovered that the hard way. 

At one time, the Heat’s 2021 first-round draft pick was viewed around the league as one of the most valuable trade assets. Now, the Heat have written their own narratives and have emerged as a legitimate dark horse candidate for the NBA championship.

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