Recap of Miami Heat’s Historic Year
After the 2018-2019 season, the Miami Heat’s prospects looked slim — the Miami basketball team had no cap space and horrible contracts on the roster. Then, All-Star Jimmy Butler expressed interest in joining the Heat and was a part of a sign-and-trade deal that sent Josh Richardson to Philadelphia and leaving the Heat with Butler. The Heat traded their former starting center, Hassan Whiteside, for Meyers Leonard and Moe Harkless (who later got shipped off to the Clippers due to salary disputes). In the 13th pick of the 2019 draft the Heat drafted Tyler Herro, then a promising rookie from Kentucky, who is now a fan-favorite.
The Heat were looking amazing, Kendrick Nunn blossomed and entered Rookie of the Year discourse at the beginning of the year. Duncan Robinson inserted himself into the starting lineup as a lights out three-point shooter. Bam Adebayo took a huge jump and became an All-star and was in the Most Improved Player conversation early on, as he and Jimmy Butler were the lone two All-Stars on the team.
The Heat were looking like a team not to mess with in the postseason and their three-point shooting was among the top 3 in the league. Then, during the trade deadline, the Heat made a trade to help improve their team and traded former 1st round pick Justice Winslow in exchange for Andre Iguodala and Jae Crowder and it proved to be one of the best trades of the year.
A few weeks after the coronavirus pandemic hit, the NBA was shut down for months and we didn’t know if they were going to end up continuing the season. Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner, came up with the idea of the NBA Bubble. Essentially it was going to be 22 teams in the bubble, all enclosed at the Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, FL. They adhered by CDC guidelines and no fans were allowed at the games.
The Heat were the underdogs and no one anticipated them making it to the NBA Finals, but they embraced the role. In the playoffs, Kendrick Nunn’s starting spot was taken by veteran point-guard Goran Dragic and he balled out. Nunn was the leading scorer for the Heat during the entire playoff series. The biggest test of the season came against the 1st seed Milwaukee Bucks, widely regarded as the favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference and win the NBA Finals, with MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and All-Star Khris Middleton. Miami was looking like the team that could possibly stop Milwaukee though, with their elite three-point shooting. Milwaukee was clearly out-coached by Miami and they were down 2-0 quickly, before Giannis suffered an injury and eventually couldn’t play the last few games. Milwaukee lost the series and the Heat were finally getting the Eastern Conference buzz.
The Boston Celtics win was carried by the incredible play on Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo’s part. Herro had the game of his career when he dropped 37 points and could not be stopped on the offensive side of the ball. It helped them gain a 3-1 series lead and one game away from the NBA Finals. They dropped game 5, but Adebayo played an amazing game that closed the series out and brought them to their first NBA Finals since 2014 during the Big 3 era.
The NBA Finals rolled around and the Heat were up against the Los Angeles Lakers, with Lebron James and Anthony Davis leading the way for LA. The Heat held out hope, even though they were heavily doubted. The biggest hit they took was when Goran Dragic tore his plantar in his foot and couldn’t play for the rest of the series with the exception of the last game, where he was only at 50 percent. Adebayo also got injured and missed games 2 and 3. Jimmy Butler had to answer the call as the Heat were down 2-0 versus the Lakers, and they were looking like they were most likely out, since two of their top three players were injured, and it was going to take a miracle to win the series.
Then, Jimmy Butler had the game of his career when he dropped a 40-point triple double and led the Heat to a win to bring the series to 2-1. Game 4 came around and the results were the same as games 1 and 2 as they just looked outmatched. Game 5 and it looked like Jimmy Butler was determined to win this game and not go out without a fight, as he dropped a 30-point triple double and played 47 minutes. After that however, it just looked like the Heat had just run out of gas and they eventually lost the game and the Finals at 4-2.
The Heat exceeded all expectations and made the NBA Finals, which nobody thought they would achieve, and that is something to be admired. This was one of the better runs in Heat history and as a Heat fan, it was exciting to watch. The Heat will be here again soon whether its next year, or the year after, and I am very excited for the future of this team.
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