The return Boy Wonder and The Dragon could spark another deep playoff run from the Miami Heat.
The Miami Heat has been one of the most inconsistent teams in the Eastern Conference this season. That said, one thing has been clear for this team. When Jimmy Butler is healthy and playing, the Heat looks a lot like that team that made a deep run in the playoffs a year ago.
In fact, Miami is 32-19 when Jimmy is in the team’s lineup. The Heat, predictably, has struggled mightily when Jimmy is not healthy and out of the lineup. With just a few games before the start of the playoffs, Miami is looking as healthy as they’ve been all season and might be getting hot at the right time
Over the last 13 games, Miami has a 10-3 record (which is tied with the Dallas Mavericks for the best mark in the league over that span). They also have the second-best offensive rating in those 13 games. That is an interesting and important development considering that’s where they’ve struggled most this season.
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That’s where we’ve seen the biggest regression in their game compared to last season. While that’s all great to see – that the Heat are beginning to find themselves on the offensive end – the one biggest encouraging sign from Miami has to be the recent play of Tyler Herro and Goran Dragic.
The rise of The Dragic and Boy Wonder could spark the Miami Heat heading into the playoffs
After up and down seasons from both Herro and Dragic, we’re beginning to see the reemergence of Boy Wonder and The Dragon – which were two keep components to the team’s run to the NBA Finals in the league’s restart bubble last year.
Since his return from injury, Herro is averaging 20 points and six rebounds on 67 percent shooting from the field and 67 percent from 3-point range. Even though that’s over an extremely small sample size (three games), it’s arguably the best and most consistent stretch of basketball that Herro has had all season long.
In addition to Herro’s resurgence since injury, Dragic has also been playing better as of late. During Dragic’s last seven games, he’s averaging 16 points and four assists per game on 44 percent shooting from the field and 48 percent from 3-point range.
Plus, considering that Miami has been essentially in playoff mode over the last couple of weeks, it puts even more importance on their play recently.
During last year’s playoff run, the difference for Miami was their outside shooting and the play of both Dragic and Herro. That’s why when Dragic went down with an injury in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, it completely changed the complexity of the series.
If Dragic and Herro can tap back into even just 90 percent of the players that they were in the bubble last season, it will raise the ceiling for the Heat. Just a couple of weeks ago, many assumed that the Heat was destined for a first-round playoff loss.
However, if Dragic and Herro can continue to play at a high level, assuming that Jimmy and Bam Adebayo will continue to be the consistent players that they’ve been this season, perhaps this team is more like that NBA Finalist than what we’ve seen from them during this year’s regular season.
If Miami can sneak into the playoffs as a 4 or 5 seed, and avoid the Brooklyn Nets in the first or second round, there’s a least a chance that they will be able to make a return to the Eastern Conference Finals.
And if the Heat does make another deep playoff run in the East, it will likely be due to the return of Boy Wonder and The Dragon flanking MVP candidate Jimmy Butler and budding superstar Bam Adebayo. Despite an inconsistent regular season, Miami is getting hot at the right time.