Take a quick look at the Miami Heat’s roster and you’ll see a bunch players who weren’t projected to be in this position.
Jimmy Butler’s issues with previous teammates are well-documented, and so is his story of rising from homelessness. Duncan Robinson was texting a sports media member about his interest after college because he had doubts about an NBA career. Bam Adebayo turned 23 two months ago, and Tyler Herro is supposed to be a 20-year old wide-eyed rookie in over his head.
But none of that is the case. The Heat’s roster is filled with players that exceeded expectations coming into this season. They did it again after beating the Boston Celtics in six games in the Eastern Conference Finals. This is after disposing of a Milwaukee Bucks team that was led by league-MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Aside from Butler, the rest of the Heat roster combined for two All-Star appearances before this season. Adebayo emerged right before our eyes and made his first All-Star game in 2020. His 32 points, 14 rebounds and five assists in the Game 6 win over the Celtics confirmed his All-Star status. Herro, Robinson, Andre Iguodala, Goran Dragic and others also stepped up at different times in the series.
The Heat-Lakers matchup will offer a big contrast in rosters. The Lakers heavily depend on two of the best players in the world to carry a heavy load while hoping one of the role players becomes a third option on any given night. Miami had six players average double figures against the Celtics. You can’t focus on one or two options because their scoring can come from anyone on any night.
MLB playoff action begins Tuesday
At times it looked like these days wouldn’t come, but postseason baseball is here. A 60-game season had its trials with the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins having COVID-19 outbreaks, but both teams recovered and made the postseason.
A hectic Sunday awaited as four NL teams played for two seeding spots. The Brewers earned the eighth seed after a San Francisco Giants and Phillies loss.
The expanded postseason matchups are set and action begins Tuesday.
This postseason will be different than any other. The playoffs are expanded, and Wild Card Series matchups will be three-game series. That’s dangerous for top seeds because one bad game puts you in a hole. A three-game series is essentially a toss-up.
The extended action means we’ll see a bunch of games being played each day. Play begins a 2 p.m. on Tuesday and noon on Wednesday.
These will be the final home games for the top four seeds. Starting with the Division Series, all games will be played at a neutral site.
Buckle up for a postseason unlike any other. If the NBA bubble was a tease at how things could play out in MLB’s postseason, expect the unexpected.
Pat Riley’s imprints will be on the NBA Finals again
The Heat’s win last night assured that Pat Riley will be involved in the NBA Finals for a sixth consecutive decade.
He won an NBA championship as a player in the 70s, won four NBA championships as a coach in the 80s, took the Knicks to the Finals in the 90s, won a title with the Heat in the 2000s, led Miami to two titles as team president in the 2010s, and now he’s back again. If you want to take it a step further, he also played in the NCAA championship game with Kentucky in the 60s.
Riley’s basketball resume is one of the best out there, and it keeps getting better. He was inducted in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008, and all he’s done since is see his team appear in five more NBA Finals.
When you win as much as Riley has, it makes you even more of a competitor, and his competitive juices must be flowing knowing that he’ll see his former team and one of his former players, LeBron James. It took Riley some time to become at peace with James' decision to leave Miami. In Riley’s mind, they were supposed to build something that lasted much longer than four seasons.