To say no one expected the Miami Heat to make the NBA Finals would be a dramatic understatement. They were the 7th seed coming into the Eastern Conference Playoffs, and had to play the Atlanta Hawks in the Play-In Tournament. They lost, and didn’t look particularly good on their homecourt. They needed to beat the Chicago Bulls in the 2nd Play-In game just to sneak in as the 8th seed. What they’ve done since has been nothing short of a miracle, beyond all reasonable expectations. Obviously, as the 8th seed, they didn’t have homecourt advantage heading into any series. They beat the top overall seed, the Milwaukee Bucks, in 5. Then they beat the New York Knicks in 6 games. And of course, they beat the Celtics in a memorable 7 game series.
The only question now is whether or not the Heat can finish the job, and become one of the least expected teams to ever win the championship. No 8th seed has ever won the NBA Finals. The Heat are only the 2nd team to even make it. The lowest seed to ever win the NBA Finals was the 6th seeded Rockets in 1994-95. In order for the Heat to win, they’ll have to do the obvious, yet seemingly impossible task of containing Nikola Jokic. Jokic is having a monstrous postseason, averaging a triple double with just under 30 points, over 13 rebounds, and just over 10 assists per game. When everyone knows you’re the best player on the court, and you can still put up those numbers, you know you’re a superstar. But the Heat will also have to contend with Jamal Murray, who’s playing a very capable Robin to Jokic’s Batman. The Nuggets have been particularly dominant at home as well, so the Heat will definitely have their hands full in this series. There’s reason the Nuggets are heavy favorites to win this series.
Having said all that, you can’t count the Heat out. They’ve been doubted the entire postseason, and have shown remarkable resilience. With Jimmy Butler and Erik Spoelstra leading the way, anything is possible. Tip-off can’t come soon enough!