I was wrong about the Miami Heat.
After that stellar run in the 2020 NBA Bubble, the Heat were regulated back to mediocrity. No significant moves to help bolster the roster and no significant jump in play. It seemed like Miami’s run to the finals was just a one-time thing.
At the start of this season, the sentiment remained the same – last in the league in offense, struggling record, and poor play from big contract players. There was hardly any difference in Miami. Throughout the year, they were mediocre. They had big wins but never got into a stretch where they looked dominant.
Many questions surfaced approaching the playoffs. Wasn’t Miami supposed to be a contender? Weren’t they supposed to scare the other teams in the East? Would they even get out of the play-in?
Despite those questions at the start of the season, the eighth-seeded Heat, who needed two wins in the play-in, defeated the no.1 seed Milwaukee Bucks in just five games. Granted that Giannis Atentokounmpo missed two games, but even if he didn’t miss time, with the way the Heat were playing, I don’t think it would have made a difference.
But the Heat also just seem to have a knack for breaking expectations.
Undrafted players like Gabe Vincent and Max Struss played the lights out against the Bucks. The Heat doubled down on Jimmy Butler, the superstar who people doubted could be the guy on a championship contender. But in true Butler fashion, he had the best first-round performance in these playoffs.
Miami also has guys like Kevin Love and Duncan Robinson (undrafted, too) who people thought were washed, but both stepped up and provided some good games as well.
In a series, there is always a favored team and if you had picked the Bucks to win the series against the Heat, I wouldn’t have blamed you. But if there’s one thing that the Miami Heat taught us, it’s to never count them out.