It goes without saying that no one expected the Miami Heat to be playing for the right to go to the NBA Finals. They barely made the playoffs as it is. They needed to play in two Play-In games just to sneak in as the 8th seed. They lost at home to the Atlanta Hawks for the right to be the 7th seed! They were significant underdogs to the Number 1 seeded Milwaukee Bucks, yet the Heat took care of them in just 5 games. In the 2nd round, they were underdogs against the New York Knicks, and promptly took care of them in 6 games. Now, they are once again significant underdogs against the Celtics. It’s easy to think that this magical run will end against the Celtics, but during the regular season, the Heat split their four games against the Celtics, with one win coming on the road at TD Garden. Most fans and pundits would also acknowledge that the Heat have the coaching advantage. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has been here and done this before, whereas Joe Mazzulla is going through all of this for the first time. Will the rookie coach show signs of nervousness? There’s only one way to find out.
We’ve also seen plenty of upsets happen throughout the NBA Playoffs thus far. Aside from the Heat, the 7th seeded Lakers in the Western Conference are also in the Conference Finals. To get there, they beat the 6th seeded Warriors, who upset the 3rd seeded Kings in the first round. There seem to have been more upsets this year. Perhaps the gap in talent and coaching isn’t as big as it has been in the past. Regardless of the reason, we know the Heat aren’t going to go down quietly. They have a very proud organization, team, and fanbase. The Celtics may be the better team, but we’ve seen them struggle in the playoffs this year. So far in the playoffs, they’ve already lost three times in their own building. The Heat have shown they don’t get scared of playing on the road. In Game 5 against the Bucks, they were double digit underdogs, and yet they managed to win.
We’re all set for a great matchup for the right to head to the NBA Finals. It’s what the fans deserve, after all. The winner of this series is going to have to earn it.