Should we trust the Miami Heat heading into the NBA playoffs?
The Miami Heat are clicking at the right time in the season. It may have been a roller coaster ride throughout this regular season, but as long as the team is healthy and engaged on the floor, the Eastern Conference champions will have something to prove this postseason.
The Heat’s two dramatic victories over the Boston Celtics spoke volumes to the team. Despite a struggling Boston team who is now without Jaylen Brown for the rest of the season, the Heat executed perfectly on both ends of the floor.
Erik Spoelstra was also able to get contributions from Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Kendrick Nunn, and Goran Dragic. Teams already know what Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo will bring to the table. But Miami thrives as a unit once their role players get in the mix of the action.
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Of course, it has been a very underwhelming season for Miami. After shocking the world last season in the bubble, the team came out this year flat. The Heat’s inconsistencies have good excuses, to say the least. Health and Safety Protocols hit the organization very hard, which forced coach Spoelstra to initiate different lineups early. For the most part, the Heat found themselves at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, looking to figure out a scenario that will get them out of their hole.
Over the past few games, the Heat have found their stride. The challenge is will they be able to ride it through their last three games of the regular season. It isn’t just about their current three-game winning streak, except it is the way that they’re in attack mode late in the season.
It all started late last week in a game against Minnesota, where Jimmy Butler had a back and forth with former teammate, Karl-Anthony Towns. As Butler is the cornerstone of the franchise, it is his job to have his team prepared for each matchup. His back and forth against Minnesota gave Miami an edge that they have had on their shoulders since Friday night.
Tuesday night’s victory over Boston allowed Miami to officially avoid the Play-in Tournament. With that being said, they have an opportunity to clinch any seed from fourth to sixth. Having homecourt advantage would be the perfect opportunity for Miami this postseason. But they also enjoy being the underdogs as well. The Heat will possibly play the Milwaukee Bucks, Atlanta Hawks, or New York Knicks in the first round (depending on how the final few games of the regular season fall).
Potential first-round matchups for the Miami Heat
The matchup that the Heat will possibly anticipate the most is a rematch with the Milwaukee Bucks. With the way they overmatched Milwaukee last season, coach Spoelstra will approach the series with the same game plan to surround Giannis around the paint and make him a decoy. Due to Giannis being disrupted from his usage on the floor, Miami ran Milwaukee out of the bubble in five games.
A potential New York matchup would be pretty intense, to say the least. We know what players like Julius Randle and RJ Barrett will bring to the table. But the biggest weapon for New York has been their supporting cast. Derrick Rose has emerged into a sixth man of the year candidate, followed by other role stars in Immanuel Quickley, Nerlens Noel, and other supporters off the bench.
Miami’s supporting cast will need to match the same energy to pull away in the series. With the Heat having an edge in playoff experience, the roster will be well prepared with a game plan and how to slow the Knicks down. As Erik Spoelstra and Tom Thibodeau are two defensive-minded coaches, this series will be expected to go down to the wire.
And last, but not least, Atlanta. The Hawks have been impressive this season as they’ve clinched a playoff spot. They are another team that Miami will possibly battle against to advance past the first round.
The two keys for the Heat are to limit Atlanta around the paint and limit the team’s perimeter scoring. The Hawks are the No. 1 rebounding team in the NBA and thrive off of second chances. They also have phenomenal perimeter threats that are not named Trae Young as well. The Heat’s defense will need to be excellent through a seven-game series in order to advance. If Atlanta catches any momentum in the series, it could possibly be the downfall for the Heat.
Is it true that Miami has found its stride? The team is finally coming together at the right time in the season. Could there possibly become another unlikely deep playoff run in this team? I guess we’re all about to find out together, once the playoffs start.