What do the 2008 Golden State ‘We Believe’ Warriors, 1994 Denver Nuggets, and the forgotten 1987 Seattle Supersonics all have in common?
They all overcame massive odds to advance to the next round of the NBA Playoffs. The latest underdog story to take the sporting world by storm is the 2020 Miami Heat. They recently took down the two-time league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and his first-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in five games in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.
Now facing the Jayson Tatum led Boston Celtics, the question on everybody’s lips is whether the Miami Heat are legit contenders or just an excellent fairytale story?
Where Have the Miami Heat Come From?
Coming into the NBA season as a borderline playoff team, with just 1.98 odds to make the postseason, according to RubyBet, nobody expected anything from the Jimmy Butler lead Heat team.
After unsuccessful stints in Minnesota and Philadelphia after his departure from the Chicago Bulls in 2017, many fans began to doubt his stature as an All-Star. However, the one thing they could never deny was his heart for the game of basketball, and this heart is the very reason he is seeing success in Miami. Pat Riley, Erik Spoelstra, and the Miami Heat are known around the league to be the epitome of hard work so having Jimmy Butler join the team as their leader was a match made in heaven.
Jimmy Butler, although being the driving force, is not the only reason the Heat have gotten this far.
The Heat moved on from Hassan Whiteside in the offseason to allow versatile center Bam Adebayo to take the starting spot after showing flashes of greatness towards the end of last season. It is safe to say the Heat do not regret their decision, as Adebayo’s development into maybe the most versatile defender in the league and becoming a perfect pick and roll partner for Goran Dragic and Jimmy Butler saw him finish second in this year’s Most Improved Player voting, behind Pelicans star Brandon Ingram.
Miami is known for its incredible scouting staff, finding value from the NBA Draft, even as deep into the second round. Well, they really topped themselves this year, signing an undrafted prospect named Duncan Robinson who didn’t have a bad rookie season; breaking records for the most three-pointers made by an undrafted rookie and the most three-pointers made in a single season in Heat franchise history. The 2019 NBA draft also gave Miami Tyler Herro, who has quickly become a fan favorite for his infectious personality and cut-throat approach on the court, draining clutch shots against Milwaukee in the playoffs that veterans can only dream of taking.
Now that you know why the Heat have managed to overcome the odds so far, can they take it a step further and make it to the coveted NBA Finals?
The Boston Celtics line-up looks intimidating at first look with Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, and Daniel Theis with All-Defensive guard Marcus Smart on the bench. However, this Celtics team has not managed to put it all together yet, allowing the Heat to strike where the Celtics show weakness.
Goran Dragic has shown he is an above-average on-ball defender in the NBA Bubble Playoffs, and with Kemba Walker shooting a career-low from the field, he won’t serve as much of a threat for the Heat than his running mate, Jayson Tatum.
There is no doubt that Tatum is an upcoming superstar in the league, but the question of whether he can do it on the biggest stage is yet to be answered. Most likely, Jimmy Butler will be taking the assignment personally to limit the star’s production. If there is one thing that we can all agree on, if Tatum is unproductive on the offensive side of the ball, the Celtics will struggle and Miami will walk away from the series in five or six games.