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Why the Heat Could/Should/Would Win the NBA Finals

-Photo credit to CBS Sports

I am ready to die upon this hill. For the first time in NBA history, the 2023 NBA Finals will feature the Miami Heat versus the Denver Nuggets. I know, I know, a shockingly hot take seeing as the Nuggets are up 3-0 and the Heat are up 2-0. I don't think that it's incredibly shocking to say that the Nuggets will make the finals since they were an extremely competent 1-seed for most of the year with the MVP runner-up on their squad. However, I don't think anyone expected the Heat to make it this far; and possibly even further! I sure didn't. Their journey to the Eastern Conference finals has been stunning

The Heat finished the regular season 44-38, pulling off the 7th seed. They entered the play-in tournament as the highest seeded team. Miami lost their first game against Atlanta 116-105. Their second game, a must-win game, was against the Chicago Bulls. The Heat ended up winning against the Bulls 102-91, achieving a playoff spot as the 8th seed. The problem with being the 8th seed though, is that you have to immediately play the 1 seed, which was the powerhouse that is the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks, led by generational power forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, had assembled a magical mixture of versatile offense spearheaded by Giannis and Khris Middleton and superb, physical defense from the likes of Brook Lopez, Jrue Holiday, and, again, Giannis Antetokounmpo. However, an injury to Giannis early on in Game 1 and his inability to return to MVP form paved the way for the Heat to win in 5. This accomplishment on its own was impressive enough, but the Heat weren't done.

In the 2nd Round, the Miami Heat matched up against the competent, but not as scary as the Bucks, New York Knicks. This was a well fought series by the Knicks and Jalen Brunson who tried to will them to a Game 7, but the Heat's dominance on both ends of the court had them winning in 6. Moving on to the Eastern Conference Finals, the Heat are currently matched up against the consistently dangerous and spectacular Boston Celtics who are led by the dynamic Jay's (Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown). Viewers and analysts alike started to doubt the Heat's ability to win this sure to be spectacular series, but in classic Heat fashion, they again defied the odds, going up 2-0 on Boston. With Game 3 later tonight, I wanted to give my reasons as to why the Heat have had so much playoff success and why I think that they will make the finals, and much of it has to do with their mindset in the face of adversity.

I believe that the Miami Heat have been so successful in the playoffs thus far because of their mindset in the face of adversity. In an interview with Mike Tyson, Tyson famously stated that "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth". The Heat have been punched in the mouth AND still have a plan: Tyson's worst nightmare! Miami's ability to overcome obstacles as they appear and push past them is the reason that they have made it this far in the 2023 NBA playoffs

Punched in the Mouth

The Heat have actually been punched in the mouth multiple times. The first thing that punched them in the mouth was injuries. The first round of the playoffs was not kind to Miami. Both Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo got injured. Tyler broke his hand and Victor tore his patellar tendon. Both were valuable, versatile shooters for the Heat. Herro averaged 20.1 ppg over this season, and Oladipo scored 30 points 4 games before he injured himself. Needless to say, losing them was not beneficial to the Heat.

Beyond just injuries, the Heat's very achievement of the 8th seed comes with its own downsides. Just to achieve the 8th seed, the Heat had to fight all year all the way until the end of the season, leaving them no time to rest or coast before the start of the playoffs. Then, after fighting for a spot in the playoffs, they get the 8th seed. Hooray! Right off the bat, they are automatically the lowest seed in any game they will play in their conference. Furthermore, they will never have home-court advantage, and with home-court advantage being a defining factor in the playoffs, that's not the best position to be in. Over the course of the playoffs and play-in so far, teams are 49-80 at home. And guess what! The Miami Heat will now face the 1-seeded Bucks without home-court advantage. Let's Go!

Needless to say, the Heat's situation going into the playoffs was not optimal.

The Plan

Despite these suboptimal (if that's what you want to call them) conditions, the Miami Heat are making history. They are on their way to being the second 8th seed to ever make the NBA Finals since the Knicks in 1999. I believe that they will make it to the finals because of their actions in lieu of these conditions and their attitudes in the face of adversity.

The Heat have proven that their injuries are a non-factor. Without Herro and Oladipo, other players have stepped up, especially Jimmy Butler. Butler has raised his game to another level in the playoffs, averaging 31, 7, and 6 over the course of them. He has earned nicknames like Himmy Butler, Playoff Jimmy, and Michael Jordan's son that reflect his impact. His play crescendoed in Game 4 against Milwaukee when he scored 56 points and 9 rebounds on 68% fg%. Other players have stepped up as well, making the Heat a very well-rounded team.

To not having home-court advantage, the Heat say "so what?" Over the course of the playoffs, the Heat are 5-3 on the road. And home-court advantage isn't the only thing that they've overcome in games. The Heat are notoriously good at overcoming deficits. The Heat are 6-2 this postseason when trailing by 10+ points. The rest of the NBA is 15-60 (nbadistrict). Just two days ago in Game 2, the Heat went on a 24-9 run against the Celtics in the 4th to win the game (the.fastbreak). No matter what the odds are, the Heat seem to find a way. Speaking of odds, they haven't been in the Heat's favor either! Going into the Celtics series, the Heat had a 3% chance to make it to the finals according to ESPN. Even after FULLY stealing home-court advantage from the Celtics in Game 2, the Heat still only have a 35% chance to make the finals according to ESPN. It's almost as if the Heat thrive when things aren't in their favor.

Also, when will the NBA make a Coach of the Year Award for the playoffs so that they can immediately give it to Erik Spoelstra? He has taken a team with a total of 1 all-stars (a reserve, in fact, in Bam Adebayo) and has brought them up 2-0 on a team that just went to the finals last year. His ability to bring this team to heights that nobody thought that they could reach is incredible.

End of the Round

The Miami Heat will make it to the NBA Finals. But that's where I get a little bearish on the Heat. I think this is Denver's year. They have shown that same fight that the Heat have, but from a higher seed and with a more talented star player. I think both teams are extremely talented, but if I had to choose, I have the Nuggets in 6 against the Heat in the finals. But who knows? Maybe Lebron makes history and comes back from down 0-3 (wouldn't that just be awful). Maybe Miami fully collapses and the Celtics take them in 7. Maybe the NBA script is a real thing and we'll get a Lakers-Celtics finals to decide who is the more dominant franchise. Or, maybe the Heat keep doing what they've been doing all playoffs: defying odds and playing competent basketball. The Heat could win the finals because they are one of the most consistent teams left in the playoffs. The Heat should win the finals due to their ability to overcome countless obstacles that I have not seen in other teams. The Heat would win the finals, if it weren't for a 6'11" Serbian, a legend from the Bubble days, and a guy who can't pass. No matter what, the Miami Heat have had a historic playoff run. I heard one person say that if the Heat win the finals, it will be equivalent to the Mavs 2011 championship against Lebron and the Heat of all teams (wow, full circle). To that I say, I don't think Dirk Nowitzki ever had any nickname as good as Himmy Butler.


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