The Heat Are So Close To Winning a Championship
The Miami Heat are often overlooked as an Eastern Conference contender. However, the fact is they went to the NBA Finals just three seasons ago when they defeated the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2019-2020 Eastern Conference Finals. This past season, they were a missed last second Jimmy Butler three-pointer away from another Finals appearance. They barely lost to the Boston Celtics in this season’s ECF, so there’s really no reason to believe they can’t get close again this year. Here is a preview of how the team’s roster will look.
The Heat signed Kyle Lowry last season, which was exciting for Miami faithful because Lowry has been one of the better point guards in the league for about a decade. He is in the later stages of his career, and he didn’t have his best year (he dealt with some injuries). That said, he should come back highly motivated to have a better season with his new team and try to win his second championship. Lowry will definitely be the featured point guard, but Jimmy Butler has become a great passer and basically plays point guard in this offense, as well. As far as a backup official point guard, the Heat have some options. They have many wing players on this roster, so many of them will likely play together while Lowry is on the bench or injured. The best option for a backup point guard would be Victor Oladipo since he is not as good of a shooter as Tyler Herro or Duncan Robinson. He can play more of an offense creator in that role.
While Oladipo would be a good backup point guard for Miami, his natural position is shooting guard and his best skill is scoring. He will likely see time at a two guard position also. The main shooting guard however is probably Tyler Herro. Herro could help at point guard too, but he is best suited as a wing. Herro broke onto the scene as a rookie where he had some big playoff games. He had an off year the next season in 2020-2021, but he looked pretty good last year. Herro is a talented shooter and all-around scorer, and it seems like he should have his best season yet this year. This could mean a lot to this team’s playoff hopes. Duncan Robinson will also play a lot of shooting guard, and in his first couple of seasons he was one of the best shooters in the NBA. He didn’t have his best season last year but could definitely bounce back strong.
Of course, Jimmy Butler will be the starting small forward as that is his best suited position, and he remains one of the best players in basketball. He should be ready to lead this team deep in the playoffs once again. He is definitely an aging player (32 years old) and he should be even more motivated this season to win it all. Max Struss spent years in the G-league, but last season he had a breakout year for him. Struss was a big part of the success Miami had last year. He is a hustle player, working hard and doing a lot of dirty work for the Heat. He is a tough and good defender, but he is also a good shooter when he is feeling it. He will get a lot of minutes playing small forward, but as mentioned the Heat have plenty of options there (Robinson, Oladipo, Herro). They also drafted the high profile rookie this offseason, Nikola Jovic. Jovic is just nineteen years old, but he is six foot ten, and he is a skilled scorer and passer. He is a very good offense creator overall. The Heat have a lot of flexibility on their roster, and many players will play multiple positions.
In recent years the Heat have really bought into the “small ball” philosophy, where the coach plays a shorter, faster roster in hopes of outrunning other teams or often keeping up with them. Bam Adebayo would make a fantastic power forward, but he has been the featured center on the Heat for years. Last year, P.J Tucker played a lot of power forward but he is on the Philosophy 76ers now. This position is probably the biggest mystery of the five. Miami could start Adebayo at the four, and play Dewayne Dedmon at center. Or even vice versa. However, based on the past few seasons they will most likely stick with their small ball roster. In today’s NBA, either Max Struss or Jimmy Butler could and likely will play plenty of power forward for Miami. Jovic could also play power forward because of his size, although it doesn’t really fit his skill set.
Bam Adebayo is an undersized center to traditional basketball experts, but that is his position with the team. In truth he should be considered one of the best centers in the NBA. He and Butler have been one of the most dominant (though overlooked) duos in the game for years. He should be back for another great year. Outside of Bam, Dewayne Dedmon is a solid starting caliber center. It would honestly be very effective if Adebayo played the four and Dedmon the five, but Dewayne will be great coming off of the bench playing plenty of valuable minutes if Bam starts at center.
Critical Question- Has the Window Closed?
The Heat have gotten close to the big prize twice in three seasons. The first time they were injured in the Finals, they likely still couldn’t beat the Lakers that year if they were healthy. Last year they barely lost to the Celtics. It seems the big question for this team isn’t if they can contend, but if they can actually get over that hump and win it all. In all likelihood, they will need to improve their roster somehow just a little bit. They have a great coach in Erik Spoelstra, a great best player in Jimmy Butler, a solid sidekick in Bam Adebayo, and a good supporting cast. They may need another great player to really have a chance at winning the Finals. Kyle Lowry was supposed to be that when they signed him last season, but can he still be that guy this late in his career? We’ll find out this year. Perhaps Tyler Herro can take that next step as well. It will be interesting to see how close Miami gets this season.
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