It’s been over a month since the Miami Heat’s playoff run was cut shockingly early in the first round of the NBA postseason after being swept by the Milwaukee Bucks. Fans predicted this series to be a thriller which would for sure go at least six or seven games, with the victor being a toss-up. However, the Milwaukee Bucks had a different plan, making quick work of the Miami Heat, beating them in four straight games with three of those margins of victory being by at least 15 points. As Miami’s chances of making back-to-back appearances in the NBA Finals were ruined, the Milwaukee Bucks continue their hopes of making their first Finals appearance since 1972, as they are midway through their Eastern Conference Finals series against the Atlanta Hawks.
Heat fans and basketball fans, in general, were genuinely shocked by the Heat’s embarrassing performance in the postseason, and fingers began to fly all over the place with several different people within the organization getting the blame. Fans called out Heat star Jimmy Butler for his severely underwhelming performance in the series after telling the media that he was “stupidly locked in” for the upcoming postseason. Fans also were quick to point the fingers at the Heat’s young core in Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro, as they were seemingly non-factors in the series. Both Herro and Adebayo performed strong last postseasons against the Bucks inside the bubble, as Herro was seemingly unstoppable on offense and Adebayo contained the two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo on defense, but this postseason went the opposite direction as Herro struggled to find his confidence and Adebayo couldn’t do much to bring down Giannis. And of course, some blame went towards the direction of the Heat’s Head Coach Erik Spoelstra, as fans called out his inability to make adjustments throughout the series. A particular problem fans had was his decision to stay in a 2-3 zone for the majority of the series even though the Bucks were seemingly torching Miami from beyond the arc, especially Bryn Forbes as he played the series of his life against the Heat.
Now do the names above deserve some sort of blame for the Heat’s exit? Yes. Do they deserve all of it? No. The 2021 postseason wasn’t just meant to be for the Heat, and the Milwaukee Bucks caught them completely off-guard. Milwaukee plain and simply just wanted it more than them.
Even though I said that there wasn’t one particular main reason for the Heat’s abrupt exit from the postseason, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t problems with the team that need to be fixed. One of Miami’s most significant flaws was exposed throughout the Milwaukee series that needs to be fixed this upcoming off-season. That problem being their point guard spot.
Miami has struggled to find their guy to play the one spot in the past couple of seasons. We did see sparks of promise last season in the bubble with Goran Dragic leading the Heat in scoring, but injuries in last season’s finals and throughout this regular season have cemented the 35-year old into a 6th man role with Miami. Kendrick Nunn also showed a lot of promise with the Heat last season as he was the runner-up for the Rookie of the Year award and even showed glimpses of last season near the end of this season. The problem with Nunn is that he is entering free agency this off-season along with fellow Heat guard Duncan Robinson, and it seems like Miami will be forced to go one way or the other when it comes to this pair of undrafted young stars.
The Heat also experimented with Victor Oladipo running point guard for a short period this season, but it was very short-lived as Oladipo suffered a season-ending injury in just his 4th game with Miami. Oladipo will also be entering free agency this off-season. Although the Heat have expressed interest in bringing him back, it’s been reported that they don’t believe he’ll be ready to play by November. Even though the Miami Heat’s struggle with the point guard position is a big problem, they have a fantastic opportunity to fix it this upcoming off-season as there are several opportunities to fill this gap that the Heat can take.
The Free Agent Route
If Miami wanted to explore the free-agent market, there are several big names they could pursue. The Heat could bring in a veteran guard that can accelerate this win-now mentality that they are known for. 2-Way guards like Mike Conley or Kyle Lowry are names fans should watch out for. Lowry has been linked to the Heat a lot this year, as the Heat made a strong push for him at the trade deadline this season and because of his strong relationship with Jimmy Butler.
The Heat might also pursue a different route in free agency that brings in a younger guard to take control over the Heat offense. Lonzo Ball would be a fantastic fit for the Heat as he has taken significant leaps over his first four seasons in the association, becoming a dominant defender and a much-improved shooter from beyond the arc. Miami may also explore bringing in Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie who recently opted out of the last year of his contract with Brooklyn making him an unrestricted free agent. The only concern with Dinwiddie is that he is coming off of a torn ACL that kept him sidelined for nearly all of last season. With Dinwiddie’s starting spot on the Nets seemingly gone with Kyrie Irving and James Harden occupying the Nets backcourt, it seems like Dinwiddie is certainly on his way out of Brooklyn and Miami just may end up being a perfect suitor for the 28-year old guard.
The off-season is truly a wild ride in the world of the NBA, as it seems like new reports come out each day that a new star is unhappy with their organization, opening the door for fans to speculate trades. We’ve already seen it numerous times this off-season as names like Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving, and Bradley Beal have been thrown around by NBA fans as potential players to end up being traded this off-season. Now, as cool as it would be for Miami to bring in a superstar listed above to fill their point guard spot, it is improbable. Even if the Heat wanted to bring in a player like those listed above, they would for sure have to part ways with big pieces of their core that I’m not confident they are ready to give up just yet. However, two players have been linked with the Miami Heat in recent weeks that are genuine options that can help fix their struggles with the one spot.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have failed to put their foot back on the gas since LeBron James departed Cleveland for the 2nd time in his career. They have brought in lots of young talent over the years, both in the draft like Darius Garland and Isaac Okoro and via trade as they brought in Jarret Allen this past season. This off-season, though, rumors have been circulating about the Cavs’ long-term plans with former 8th overall pick Collin Sexton. Sexton has been great with Cleveland throughout his young career, but the Cavs have struggled with both him and Garland manning the backcourt at the same time. It’s been reported that Cleveland would love to keep Sexton on the team, but I doubt they will have what it takes to keep him in the future.
This is an opportunity Miami needs to jump on this off-season. Sexton is a terrific scorer with his fast motor and high energy and a key factor on the defensive side, which once again is something Miami has lacked in the one spot recently. Pairing Sexton up with Jimmy and Bam could easily make the Heat one of the most exciting teams to watch in the league while fixing that problem at the point guard position.
If the Heat end up not making a move on Sexton, then there is another player that they should explore bringing in, John Wall. Although it’s been a rough couple of seasons for the former number one overall pick, as Wall missed nearly two seasons due to injury, he had a strong comeback season with the Houston Rockets after being traded for Russell Westbrook a year ago. In 40 games with the Rockets last season, Wall averaged 20.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 6.9 assists. Not bad for a guy coming off of a torn Achilles. Wall did, however, suffer a hamstring injury in late April that caused him to miss the remainder of the 2021 regular season, but he should be 100% ready to go by next season’s tip-off.
With the Rockets entering rebuild mode, this is the perfect opportunity for Miami to try to build a deal to bring the former Kentucky star to South Beach. Wall would provide a veteran presence on the roster that would again accelerate the Heat’s win-now mentality with Butler still in his prime and Bam potentially not even in his yet. This move could once again make Miami a force to be reckoned with in the Eastern Conference.
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