This is the story about the Miami Heat's playoff run and ultimate historic journey. For Miami Heat fans going through the playoffs was an exhilarating ride. The 8th seed was the first team in history to barely make it into the playoffs. What a ride it was. Let's explore how this season was one of the most memorable, in spite of not getting that elite NBA championship ring.
Duncan Robinson opened our eyes
Duncan Robinson (seen above) has always been a sniper, it was no different in the playoffs as he continued to release threes and get to the hoop with authority. Robinson was also able to consistently find Bam Adebayo in perfect situations for alley-oop slam dunks. To be blunt, Duncan Robinson opened our eyes. His ability to generate offense, space the floor, and knock down shots is truly invaluable. Although he's 5 for 25 from 3-point range in this series, the Heat have also outscored the Knicks in Robinson's minutes.
Once the playoff began, the Heat bench went into overdrive and elevated to powerfully dominate the Eastern conference teams. The mighty Bucks was then the heavily favored team to win it all. They got beat by the Heat in convincing fashion. Next up, the Boston Celtics. They too were heavy favorites with a 97% chance of winning the series. They were beat in seven. Then came the Western conference champion Denver Nuggets. Yes, again, the Miami Heat was over matched on paper and the threat of playing without Sharpshooting Tyler Herro in the NBA championship would surely haunt the team. Up to that point, every one of these games had the Heat relying on bench reserves to back up what they didn't have in a powerful three-star system. Herro was also more agile on defense which would likely disrupt the middle and the drives that the Nuggest live for. It immediately became the point of attack for the Nuggets.
Caleb Martin showed star qualities
Caleb Martin was the highlight reel of the playoff series. Martin had scored 20 plus points in several games, and there were times when he individually took over scoring basket after basket with theatrical acrobatic shots that made fans go what the heck? He’s in the 95th percentile in Matchup Difficulty and the 97th percentile in Defensive Positional Versatility. That’s incredibly impressive for any player.
To make matters worse the bench players like Martin are scrappy, fearless, sharpshooters that broke records for performance coming off the bench and powered their team to the NBA finals. Unfortunately they needed all the five power they could get in those finals and had to face the juggernaut Denver nuggets without star shooter Tyler Herro and a battered, flattened, tired yet still scrappy heat lineup. They didn't win the NBA championship but they won the Eastern Conference championship just the same. They overwhelmed expectations and culprits and critics with upset after upset, playing above and beyond the call of duty.
Gabe Vincent was a big pain in the butt for opposing defenses
Now let's look at the bench strength that became stars in the NBA playoffs starting with Gabe Vincent. Vincent showed an ability to hit the three-ball, the mid-range, and go to the hoop with confidence. It required a special system of defense to slow him down. He was also crafty at getting open for clean shots at the basket or chosing to attack the rim off the dribble. He looked like an NBA allstar during most of the playoff games.
Knowing that they had something special and hoping that the magic wouldn't run out, the Heat went into Denver having gone the entire stretch that 8th seeds have to overcome. Again, there was no Tyler Herro available. He was healing from a broken wrist on his shooting hand. The magic didn't run out, the scoring did and without Herro, it was impossible to overcome the Nuggets.
Still, fans around the world that enjoyed or endured the Heat's epic journey. Heat fans have so much to be proud of. They dynamic young team stole the hearts of basketball fans around the world. Coming from an underdog position to Eastern Conference champion was absolutely impressive, even for Celtics fans who didn't want to admit it.
Jimmy went hard, but proved he'sonly human
Jimmy Butler's performance continues to be among the most impressive in NBA playoff history, holding a 52 point outbreak against Milwaukee. He lived up to his nicknamed "Jimmy Buckets" and "Playoff Jimmy". He is a six-time NBA All-Star, a five-time All-NBA Team honoree, a five-time NBA All-Defensive Second Team honoree, and an Olympic gold medalist (2016 Summer Olympics). With Butler's 3rd All-NBA selection in 4 years while being in Miami, it put himself in the top 3 of the franchise's most All-NBA selection players, trailing only LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. That is some elite company to be in, but the truth is, Butler IS that elite.
Max Strus showed that he could shoot all season long, but in the playoffs he went wild. Shoes could go to the rim, and could hit the three ball and was deadly and fearless. It got to a point where teams had to watch him and even that didn't always work.
Though his three-point shooting was down from 41.0% last season to 35.0% this season, his ability to space the floor for a team which isn't renowned for its long-range shooting is pivotal, while he's also shown improvement as a decision-maker and an ability to make the right pass when run off the arc.
They will cause problems for the entire Eastern Conference
These players who few of anyone could name prior to the season established themselves as future NBA stars and elevated this team to a dominant threat and the east and a team that absolutely must be considered as a championship contender again next year. You can best believe that with the heat culture and these players on the roster and a healthy Tyler Herro that they along with the veterans have a mindset to get back to the championship and of course dealing with the Celtics, the Bucks, the 76ers, the Hawks, and anyone else in the Eastern Conference that they must step on the court against. We're sure that they will strike fear and respect based on their performance this year. Way to go Miami heat, Coach Pat Riley and Coach Erik Spoelstra and the fans who prove that you don't have to win the championship to be the champion