The Miami Heat have continued to be doubted every step of the way.
After Jimmy Butler led his team to the Finals in the NBA Bubble, fans, analysts, and pundits were quick to ponder whether the Bubble fostered an environment that was too different from regular postseason play; basically, they wondered if Butler and the Heat’s success in the Bubble was misleading of their ability to compete in a regular playoff setting.
Those doubters were quickly vindicated, as the Heat would go on to underperform in the 2020-2021 campaign, earning only the sixth seed in the regular season just to be quickly ousted by the eventual champion Milwaukee Bucks in the first round.
Something that is always left out of the discussion revolving around that year, though, was that it included the shortest offseason in NBA history.
Following the Bubble playoffs — which took place in the latter part of the summer due to the season having been suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic — the following season was barely postponed, giving the two Finals teams scarce time to recover from the intense level of competition that they just experienced.
|Jimmy Butler last 4 games|
|MAY 12, 2023||vs||W||41||24|
|MAY 10, 2023||vs||L||43||19|
|MAY 08, 2023||vs||W||42||27|
|MAY 06, 2023||vs||W||36||28|
With a full offseason’s rest, the Heat came roaring back in the 2021-2022 season, earning the first seed in the Eastern Conference with a dominant 53-39 record. Their high level of play continued through the playoffs, as they returned to the Eastern Conference Finals just two summers after the Bubble run.
They came dangerously close to toppling the Boston Celtics and earning their second Finals bid in the Jimmy Butler era and were actually just a few inches short on a Butler pull-up 3-pointer in Game 7 to take on the Golden State Warriors for their second chance at a third title in franchise history.
This past season, critics were quick to dismiss Miami, as they limped through the regular season and ultimately wound up in the Play-In Tournament where it took them two full games to earn the eighth seed in the East.
Despite dismantling both the one-seed Milwaukee Bucks and the New York Knicks with only three losses total through two rounds, the Heat are still overwhelming underdogs both in their series rematch against the Cs and as the least favored team to win the Finals of the remaining contenders.
There’s no telling when the media and fans will take the Heat seriously as title threats, as they’re likely to be underdogs still even if they advance to the Finals. Jimmy Butler and Miami have commanded their respect from the world; it’s high time that the world pays them that respect.
Jimmy is Eastern Conference bound 😅
(via jimmybutler/IG) pic.twitter.com/VBgtvB6QZQ
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) May 13, 2023
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| Title: The Jimmy Butler Miami Heat continue to be underrated
| Author: Sam Profeta
| Date: May12th 2023