Miami Heat’s 2021–22 season ended in heartbreak despite the team finishing the regular season with a 53–29 record and first place in the Eastern Conference. Miami would have made two NBA Finals berths in the last three years, and who knows, maybe even won the championship and made the sports headlines last June if Jimmy Butler’s late-game shot in Game 7 of the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals against the Celtics had gone in.
Expectations are high for Miami this season as a result of how things concluded. By the end of the season, Kyle Lowry will be 37 and Jimmy Butler will be 33, so there may not be much time left with this core. The Heat still have young players like Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro who can guide the team in the future, but once Butler departs, things will undoubtedly get more difficult.
As things stand, the Heat are still an unproven but powerful team that has brought back all of the key players for another chance to go far in the playoffs. Adebayo and Herro, two players in the rotation who may be hitting their primes, have an opportunity to step up their performances.
Last year, Herro did precisely that and was overwhelmingly selected as the league’s most improved player. Despite being hindered by injuries, Adebayo reaffirmed his status as one of the top defenders in the league. Miami will miss PJ Tucker’s tenacity, but any team with Jimmy Butler on the court, Pat Riley in charge, and Erik Spoelstra on the bench won’t lack for strength and grit. Miami is back and plans to play a significant role in determining who wins the East next summer.
Currently, according to sportsbooks like Ladbrokes, the Miami Heat are at +1200 odds to win the Eastern Conference, at -200 odds to make the playoffs, and at +300 odds to win the Southeast Division. If you’re a Heat fan and like these odds, you can use Ladbrokes bonus code to place a wager on Miami’s projections at the 2022-23 NBA season.
Nevertheless, Miami will have some difficult obstacles in the crowded Eastern Conference if they want to make a run at the NBA Finals once more. Could the Heat provide Udonis Haslem a championship during his final season?
The cup half full
For a Heat squad that exudes leadership, togetherness, defensive prowess, and coaching, there shouldn’t be much of a drop-off from last season. The guys who lead the way are Butler and Bam, and everyone else follows suit. Everything else is here for a team with few flaws, so assuming excellent health, it will come down to Miami’s postseason matchups and whether the Heat can catch the right opponent at the right time.
One of the league’s top two-way players, Jimmy Butler continues to excel. He averaged 21.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and 1.6 steals per game during the previous campaign. He converted 48 percent of his field goal attempts, but just 23.3% from beyond the arc. Additionally, Butler may have had his best postseason performance ever. The small forward exploded for 27.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 2.1 steals. His shooting increased as well, going from 33.8% to 50.6% on three-pointers.
Bam Adebayo is quickly becoming one of the best bigs in the league. He has three consecutive All-Defensive selections and an All-Star appearance under his belt, all at just 25. In the playoffs, his rebounding may swing the course of a game against someone like Giannis Antetokounmpo, and how Bam performs will significantly play a big role in the Heat season.
What could go wrong
The biggest question for Miami remains Kyle Lowry’s health. Lowry brought all the components to the point guard position when he arrived from Toronto two summers ago. He also brought a body that was unreliable since it couldn’t sustain the demands of the season. He was later limited by a hamstring injury, which forced the Heat to look for a replacement. Lowry needs to add more muscle and less weight at this point in his career.
P.J. Tucker’s departure for the Philadelphia 76ers caused a serious setback for Miami’s defense. His ability to make 3-pointers will be missed, but the Heat may not have addressed this problem throughout the offseason. He was one of the team’s finest shooters, shooting 40% from beyond the arc. That’s a significant loss that might affect the Heat campaign.
Although the Heat have a lot of excellent players on its roster, the front office did not add any players to address its primary issues. While Lowry’s decline should be something fans need to keep an eye on, Tucker’s tenacity and shooting are unlikely to be duplicated. It will be challenging for Miami to capture its first championship since the Big 3 era unless some changes are made during the current season.