Imagine if you watched The Last Dance with a teenager and they said, “Dennis Rodman isn’t a Hall of Famer, he wouldn’t even start in the NBA today.” You would rightly throw them out the window for speaking such heresy.
The Miami Heat remain hot as they are the final undefeated team in the playoffs.
Coming off a 4-0 sweep of the Indiana Pacers, they are on the verge of doing the same to the team with the best record in the NBA, the Milwaukee Bucks. The Heat have completely put the clamps on the Bucks, and they are a team that is locked in and on a mission.
Coming into the 2019-20 season, five-time all-star Jimmy Butler signed a max contract with Miami to be the leader of their team. Initially, there was scepticism as to whether Jimmy Butler was a competent number one option that could take the team into a deep playoff run.
It was essentially a perfect match for both parties and now it seems they have a well-balanced roster to suit. As the Heat stands at 7-0 in the playoffs, they have put the league on notice.
Miami have always believed they were capable of great things even when many people doubted which goes to show their mentality and mindset.
“Nobody believed in us, nobody and we like it that way,” Butler commented in the post-game conference on NBA TV after Game 3 against Milwaukee regarding the public being surprised at their success.
The Heat had established an identity this season that they were going to be a tough, physical team defensively, while also spreading the court out with elite three-point shooters allowing driving lanes to be open. When defences would tighten up that’s where Jimmy Butler and to a lesser extent Goran Dragic would come into play and try to create their own shot.
Bam Adebayo also burst onto the scene, becoming an all-star for the first time this season. In just his third season he has improved his play to become an integral part of Miami’s offence. His ability to pass as a big man, screen for shooters, run dribble handoffs and be a threat rolling to the rim has been crucial to Miami’s versatility.
During the regular season, Miami had the seventh-best offence in the league. They were also the second-best three-point shooting team in the league behind Utah, shooting 37.9 per cent deep on average. It was the supporting cast that was the driving force behind their marksmanship.
The shooting was led by Duncan Robinson, who blossomed to be one of the league’s elite shooters. In only his second year, he led Miami by shooting 44.6 per cent from three while making just under four threes a game.
Jae Crowder was also a huge pickup from Memphis as he was shooting 44.5 per cent on threes for the season. When you sprinkle in the likes of Meyers Leonard, Kelly Olynyk and Dragic, there are numerous options that can be a threat from deep. Miami legitimately have a rotation where they can go ten deep.
They all fit and play the same way in terms of scrapping on defence and having the ability to cause chaos moving around screens, pick and roll or pick and pop for three-point shots. They were only the 11th best-rated defence in the league but they certainly make the opposition work for their buckets.
Their style of play has translated over to the playoffs and it has been proven in their performances.
“Anybody can score points for us. Goran, Tyler, Jae, Bam. We got a team full of guys that aren’t afraid to take and make shots,” Butler mentioned in the post-game conference after Game 2 after only scoring 13 points in the game against Milwaukee.
Miami genuinely believes they are a contender and they’re taking it one step at a time. This team is so fascinating as they don’t need to rely on Butler every time to produce.
Dragic has been an unsung hero in these playoffs. In seven playoff games so far, he’s scored 22.3 PPG, 4.6 RPG and 4.6 APG while shooting 48 per cent FG and 43 per cent three-point shooting.
He has become their x-factor and his production will be vital if Miami want to achieve bigger things. As you analyse Miami, the Heat have the depth and the quality to shake things up in the NBA.