This year’s Miami roster has proved to be one of the more talent-filled NBA rosters in contention for the NBA Championship. Yet despite them dominating the Eastern Conference for most of the regular season, the NBA media often fails to recognize Miami as a legitimate contender. Yet the analysis on sidelines’ website suggests that fans and betting enthusiasts alike should take them seriously.
Coming off of their NBA Finals trip in the “bubble” season, followed by last year’s disappointing first-round sweep, the last two seasons have been a rollercoaster, but there are reasons to hope that the best is yet to come for the Heat.
In Jimmy Butler, Miami has a genuine superstar. He has the ability to carry the team to victory in any game. He also leads an amazing “big three” that features Kyle Lowry, an experienced point guard, and Bam Adebayo, a gifted, big man. These three talents play well together and form one of the most capable trios in the NBA right now.
The Heat also have excellent depth. Tyler Herro is making a solid argument for Sixth Man of the Year, Duncan Robinson can knock down three-pointers all day and Victor Oladipo is finally healthy. This is a squad that can compete with any other club in the league at the moment. Without a doubt, their combination of attacking brilliance, defensive tenacity and general competence makes them a frightening force.
Miami was a standout in the NBA bubble two seasons ago. They breezed through the Eastern Conference playoffs on their way to a finals matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers. Los Angeles proved to be too much to handle, winning the series four games to two, but the Heat players were left with a bad taste in their mouths. They had had a fantastic season, making it all the way to Game Six of the Finals, but they felt short-changed. Miami thought they should have won the title in 2020.
This time round, they’re looking strong in the Eastern Conference, but their focus is much bigger than that. Butler, Herro and Adebayo all know what it was like to lose two seasons ago, and they don’t want to go through that again. Lowry also understands what it takes to win a championship, after leading the Toronto Raptors to victory in the 2019 NBA Finals. Nothing would make him happier than to add another ring to his collection. In short, this Heat roster isn’t just talented – they are extremely motivated.
Path to the finals
Of course, the path to the finals will be a difficult one. It is possible, based on the current standings, that the Heat will have to meet the loaded Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the playoffs. That might seem daunting, given the presence of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons on the Nets’ roster.
But while Brooklyn certainly have championship potential, they have weaknesses too. If the current vaccine mandate in New York is not lifted, then Irving will most likely not be available for home games. And Ben Simmons, who has not played since last June, is yet to appear on court this season, with a recurring back problem holding back his Nets debut.
With a part-time Kyrie and no Ben Simmons, the Nets lineup doesn’t look quite so dangerous, and Miami’s determination and defensive prowess would give them a great chance.
Miami would also be confident of beating the Toronto Raptors or the declining Chicago Bulls in the playoffs, which leaves the Bucks, the Celtics and the 76ers. Philadelphia have obvious offensive potential, but defensively they are not as strong as Miami. The Celtics are a different proposition and have a defense that can match the Heat, but offensively, Butler and company will have the edge.
The toughest test in the Eastern Conference could be Milwaukee. These two teams – Milwaukee and the Heat – have played out some great clashes already this season. Miami will have to find a way to prevent Jrue Holiday from dissecting their shaky backcourt bench defense and will need to come up with a way to stop Giannis Antetokounmpo, but they can match the Bucks across a series, giving them a great chance to progress.
Making the finals will require the Heat to reach a new level. Currently, it looks like it will be Adebayo against Deandre Ayton and Butler against Devin Booker, as Miami would be playing the top team in the West, the Phoenix Suns. That promises to be a fascinating battle, but Miami have every chance of winning the series and becoming NBA Champions for the fourth time.