Can the Miami Heat Make Paul Pierce Eat His Words?

Paul Pierce is well known for his dislike of the Miami Heat, but can Erik Spoelstra’s team prove the former Celtics forward wrong this season?

The Heat impressed last season, taking down Pierce’s beloved Celtics in the Conference Finals before that exciting final with the Lakers, but whilst chatting to Rachel Nichols in January, Pierce commented that they were no longer the exhilarating team that thrilled NBA fans last time out.

“As great as the Miami Heat were in the playoffs last year, they will not make the playoffs this year,” said Pierce while on ESPN’s show The Jump. “It’s not the Miami Heat team we saw last year – full of grit, full of grind like the Memphis Grizzlies. That team was built on hard work and toughness, and I have not seen that this year, and that’s why I don’t think they’ll make the playoffs.”

Jimmy Butler, Heat’s five-time NBA All-Star disagrees. He was bullish about the Heat’s chances of reaching the playoffs, telling Nichols to ‘book it’ after defeating the Lakers at the American Airlines Arena last month. Butler, who was nursing an injury in the early stages of the season, according to, looks to be back on form and ready to push the Heat as far as they can go.

But will it be enough to silence the simmering criticism of Pierce? They certainly went some way to trying to quieten him down last season, not least after Pierce said, “if Heat are close to a title, every team in NBA is too”. By the time the championship game came around, he had been proven wrong. Indeed, writer Ramon Lo described beating perennial Heat hater Pierce as being the cherry on top of reaching the finals, but it has not stopped him rolling out the same tired and boring rhetoric this year.

43-year-old Pierce, a 10-time NBA All-Star, retired in 2017 and has since made a living as both a pundit and a poker player. In addition to slapping down Miami whenever he gets the chance, he has appeared on shows such as Poker After Dark, according to, and even came close to finishing in a money place in the World Series of Poker. Some Heat fans might think the former Celtics man is best suited to life around the poker tables, rather than his current role as their chief naysayer. So are his continued attacks on Miami justified this season, or is his poker face beginning to wear a little thin?

After a slow start to the season, impressive wins over the Jazz, Lakers and Raptors have fueled the belief that a late run to the playoffs could be a reality. Sadly, whilst the Nets, Bucks and 76ers have all improved since last season, the Heat has seemingly stood still. If you are not moving forward, then in real terms you can be considered as going backwards and that showed in the early part of the season.

With the return of an in-form Butler and confidence from those big wins, everything is possible, but the Heat’s route to appearing in the final stages is an awful lot tougher than it should be at this stage. What they do have – which other teams do not – is the motivation of Pierce, whether he likes it or not. With every write off, every expected slur and dig at the team, he inadvertently gives them a little push towards making their dreams a reality, once again.

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