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Analyzing The Miami Heat's Unlikely Playoff Run


         The Miami Heat ended the regular season with a record of 44-38, the NBA’s definition of mediocrity. Miami had flashes of greatness this season but would also look disjointed at other points with one of the oldest starting rosters in the NBA. The Heat would clinch a spot in the play-in game (How Does The NBA Play-In Work?) and they wound up playing the Atlanta Hawks in their first postseason game; Atlanta won this game to acquire the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference. Miami then had one last opportunity to make the playoffs, they had to beat the Chicago Bulls to secure the 8th seed in the East. The Heat ended up defeating Chicago and now, five weeks later, Miami is up 2-0 on the Boston Celtics, just two wins away from going to the NBA Finals.

            Miami’s roster is an anomaly compared to the rest of the league with the Heat having a total of nine undrafted players on the team, with seven of them playing legit NBA minutes. The seven are Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, Caleb Martin, Duncan Robinson, Udonis Haslem, Haywood Highsmith, and Omer Yurtseven. Vincent, Strus, Martin, and Robinson have all played incredibly well throughout these playoffs with each guy providing massive points for Miami in different games. The Miami Heat’s Undrafted Players Are Their Secret Weapon - The New York Times To get big-time minutes and performances from multiple undrafted players makes this team just that more deadly and goes to show how great Miami’s front office truly is.     

 Miami’s playoff success relies heavily on the shoulders of Jimmy Butler and Butler has done nothing but impress so far this playoff run. In the regular season, Butler averaged 22.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 1.8 steals per game but in these playoffs, he’s been averaging 31.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, 5.6 assists, and 2.2 steals a game. Playoff Jimmy is different and is arguably the greatest playoff riser of the 2020s; showing up consistently especially when the lights get bright.

            In round one of the playoffs, Miami got matched up against the number one seed Milwaukee Bucks, with many believing the Bucks would make quick work of the Heat, as Vegas had Milwaukee as -1200 favourites (a $1200 bet would pay out $100). In game one of this series, Miami’s starting point guard Tyler Herro ended up breaking his hand and once again Miami was doubted. How long is Tyler Herro out?| Sporting News. This is when Miami’s head coach Erik Spoelstra’s talent was put on full display and many realized he might just be the best coach in the NBA. When Herro went out, Spoelstra made adjustments that many coaches wouldn’t even think of and let Jimmy Butler completely take over games. Spoelstra’s elite coaching paired with Jimmy Butler exploding for 56 points in game four and 42 in game five helped Miami eliminate the Bucks in just five games.

In round two Miami got a pesky Knicks team determined to make some noise but yet again the Heat had other plans. This Miami vs New York series was unlike any other as on paper, New York had a size advantage in just about every position but the Heat continued to beat the odds. Butler had a quieter series points wise but defensively he was fantastic as was the rest of the Heat roster as they out-rebounded New York almost every game and simply had more heart than the Knicks. In round three in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Miami Heat have jumped out to a 2-0 series lead on the Celtics, winning both games in Boston. Butler had 35 points in game one and 27 in game two but Heat center Bam Adebayo has been Miami’s X-factor so far against Boston. Adebayo had 20 points 8 rebounds and 5 assists in game one and game two he kept it rolling with 22 points 17 rebounds and 9 assists. They will look to win two more games as the series heads back to Miami, as the Heat’s improbable playoff run continues.

There is something special about this 2023 Heat team and the culture they have instilled in Miami. We all know about Jimmy Butler and Bam Adedabyo but on any given night Miami’s role players can catch fire and they will beat you with their superior depth. Their veteran leadership is so unique and many teams around the league will look to construct their rosters around the 2022-2023 Miami Heat and their uncommon playoff blueprint.

Editor: Joan Andrew Ramadan

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