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.
|Heat are 8-2 (80%) in spread bets in their Last 10 Games as Underdog for 5.27 total units won||Celtics are 7-3 (70%) in over bets in their Last 10 Games for 3.36 total units won|
With a full summer to prepare, the Heat returned with a vengeance in the 2021-2022 season, claiming the first seed in the Eastern Conference with a dominant 53-39 record. Their strong play carried through into the playoffs, as they reached the Eastern Conference Finals just two summers after the Bubble run.
They came dangerously close to defeating the Boston Celtics and advancing to their second Finals appearance under Jimmy Butler, falling just a few inches short on a Butler pull-up 3-pointer in Game 7 to face the Golden State Warriors for their second opportunity at a third title in team history.
|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|
This previous season, many were quick to dismiss Miami as they hobbled through the regular season and eventually wound up in the Play-In Tournament, where they earned the eighth seed in the East after playing two full games.
Despite destroying both the one-seed Milwaukee Bucks and the New York Knicks with only three losses in two rounds, the Heat remain huge underdogs in both their series rematch versus the Cs and as the least favored team to win the Finals among the remaining contenders.
There’s no telling when the media and fans will start taking the Heat seriously as title contenders, as they’ll still be underdogs even if they make it to the Finals. Miami and Jimmy Butler have earned their respect.
Conference Finals since Jimmy Butler joined Miami:
— NBACentral (@TheNBACentral) May 15, 2023
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| Title: Jimmy Butler continue to be underrated
| Author: Sam Profeta
| Date: May 12th 2023