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5 Best Blocks in Miami Heat History

The Miami Heat took Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday night, defeating the Boston Celtics 117-114 in overtime. The headline-making play came from Heat center Bam Adebayo, a first-time All-Star this season and member of the 2019-2020 NBA All-Defense Second Team. Adebayo met Celtics All-Star Jayson Tatum at the summit in the closing moments of overtime and blocked the would-be game-tying dunk attempt. It was one of the best blocks in Heat history.

Reactions spanned the gamut on social media. NBA players and celebrates alike fawned in awe. Heat legend Dwyane Wade posted a Dikembe Mutombo gif, his wife, Gabrielle Union, screamed “BAMMMMMMM!!! MONSTER BLOCK!!” Even pop-star Halsey called the Heat “spicyyyyy.”

The NBA legend Magic Johnson came thundering in with his opinion:

 

Magic’s hot take sparked plenty of debate across sports networks and social media. But the question is: Was Bam Adebayo’s Block the Greatest Block in Heat History?

No. 5: DWade Blocks Amar’e Stoudemire

Dwyane Wade is largely considered the greatest shot-blocking guard in NBA history. He’s certainly that for the Miami Heat. And while Wade sports so many highlight reel rejections on his resume, perhaps the greatest of those came 2005.

During a late March contest between the Heat and Phoenix Suns, Wade authored one of his signature plays. In the closing moments of the third quarter, Leandro Barbosa ran a pick-and-roll with Amar’e Stoudemire. Barbosa hit the rolling Amar’e with a pocket pass to the middle of the key and Stoudemire rose up for his two-point attempt.

From the weakside, though, Wade flew in and didn’t so much block Amar’e’s shot but spiked it to the court. He gathered the loose ball, took one dribble, then heaved a 60-foot shot from the opposite three-point line as the quarter buzzer sounded. He drilled the shot and the American Airlines Arena exploded.

Wade comes in at No. 5 here because, despite the spectacular nature of the play, the stakes of the game and moment were not at the level of the next four.

No. 4: LeBron Blocks Tiago Splitter

LeBron James holds arguably the greatest block in NBA history: his chase down of Andre Iguodala during Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals. But he was playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers then, so that play doesn’t count.

For the Heat, James’ most impactful block came during Game 2 of the 2013 NBA Finals. In the fourth quarter, coming off a Game 1 loss, the Heat held a tenuous lead. Off an inbounds play, the Spurs ran a pick-and-roll with Tony Parker and Tiago Splitter. Miami’s aggressive defense backfired when Splitter slipped the screen and Parker found him with a perfect bounce pass.

Splitter thought he had an easy dunk, but James had other ideas. James erased the dunk attempt at its peak. Splitter tried the spike the ball one-handed, but James swallowed the attempt right at the front of the rim. The ensuing fast break led to a corner three from Ray Allen (on a James assist) to give Miami a 89-67 lead en route to the Game 2 victory.

James holds No. 4 here because, while the block itself was spectacular, that game was largely in hand at that point.

No. 3: Zo Blocks Jason Terry

Alonzo Mourning remains the Miami Heat’s all-time leader in blocks. He tallied 1,625 of them in 593 games over 11 seasons. In 82 career playoff games with the Heat, Zo rejected 171 shots.

Perhaps the biggest and most important of those came in Game 6 of the 2006 NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks. While Zo never led Miami to the championship as a centerpiece of the team, his pivotal defensive stop late in Game 6 helped the Heat hoist the franchise’s first trophy.

The Heat clung to a five-point lead in the fourth quarter in Dallas when the Mavs had a fast break. Jason Terry attacked from the wing and hoisted a runner. Zo came flying down the lane to swat Terry’s attempt into the seats. He tumbled to the court and seemed to be excited about the block. It was later revealed Zo was angry with Gary Payton.

 

Mourning’s effort on the play and in that game (eight points, six rebounds and a game-high five blocks) helped the Miami Heat win their first ever NBA Championship. He gets No. 3 on this list because, even though that was a play Heat fans saw Zo accomplish nearly 2,000 times in his career, the stakes were never higher.

No. 2: Bam Blocks Jayson Tatum

The Heat’s run to the Eastern Conference Finals remains on of the most impressive and unlikely stories in the NBA this season. One of the main reasons for Miami’s ascension up the East ladder has been the play of Bam Adebayo.

Overlooked during the draft, the Heat have modeled Bam into one of the league’s most impactful young players. He’s a prototypical neo-big, with an ability to score, handle and defend across multiple positions. Nowhere was Bam’s defensive acumen on display more than the closing moments of last night’s Game 1.

Down two, the Boston Celtics turned to their 22-year-old All-Star Jayson Tatum in hopes of tying the game. Bam had other plans. Tatum worked past Jimmy Butler and launched himself toward the rim. He cocked back the ball with one-hand as Bam rotated over and elevated to meet him.

Bam erased Tatum’s dunk attempt with his offhand, avoiding any physical contact and potential whistle. The ball remained in play, Bam secured it and was fouled. The Heat secured the Game 1 win on the back of Bam’s defensive brilliance.

No. 1: Bosh Blocks Danny Green

The Big 3 Experiment was on the line in the 2013 NBA Finals. Sure, the Heat had won in 2012, but two Finals losses in three years could have spelled the end for the Wade, James and Chris Bosh triumvirate.

Bosh played a pivotal role down the stretch of Game 6 in 2013. The famous play will always remain Bosh’s rebound and assist to Allen to tie the game near the end of regulation. But in overtime, after the Heat had taken a 3-point lead, the Spurs had a final chance to tie the contest.

With less than two seconds remaining, Tim Duncan found Danny Green racing to the opposite corner. Green had come free after a Splitter screen. Bosh sprinted to the corner and timed his block perfectly. With Green fading off the floor, Bosh met him and spiked the ball down. Spurs cried foul then, and it would most certainly be a foul now, but it wasn’t one in 2013.

It’s the greatest of all Miami Heat blocks because it capped the most unlikely comeback and saved the Big 3 Era in the process.

5 Post-Practice Comments from Spoelstra, Herro, Robinson

The Miami Heat are coming off an absolute game one thriller, but still remain as focused as ever. Erik Spoelstra, Tyler Herro, and Duncan Robinson talked with media today following that game. Here’s what was said…

Post-Practice Comment #1:

Erik Spoelstra was asked about an overall evaluation of their game one win. He said, “We need to play better.” He also mentioned that Boston was clearly outplaying them throughout, saying “We were getting our asses kicked going into the fourth.” Miami and Boston each had good and bad stretches, Miami owning the second and fourth quarter, while Boston handled the first and third. He thinks they can be better on both sides of the floor which is indeed true. They definitely didn’t have their best game shooting the ball, and defensively there were a couple of small mistakes. Most of those issues on defense occurred with Bam on the bench, since he was flying around the court in both zone and man defense in game one.

Post-Practice Comment #2:

Tyler Herro started off his session with media speaking about missing the All-Rookie team by one vote. He said, “I felt I could have been on the first team but am happy with what I got.” It was expected that Tyler would make the second team, since this was a regular season award and he missed some time. Now, if this award carried over to the bubble and playoffs, he’d be the clear top rookie. But ultimately that’s not the case, and although he made that comment, he’s truly focused on much bigger things, as is Bam. Tyler Herro is currently on an unbelievable playoff run in his rookie year, while the other players from the All-Rookie team are watching his games from home. This just truly isn’t a big deal to him.

Post-Practice Comments #3:

Tyler Herro talked about last night’s near triple double stat line. He said, “I didn’t know I was close to a triple-double.” Its continually been talked about that Tyler is improving more and more with his play-making abilities, but most of his attributes aren’t teachable. He has a natural feel for the game, and also a high basketball IQ which rounds out his smooth overall game. Also, the other part of that triple-double with 11 rebounds proved to be essential as well. His elite rebounding abilities for his height is something that isn’t discussed much. Not only does he grab a bunch of rebounds, but he grabs them forcefully. Tyler just does so many things at an A level, which was not expected to be the case by many heading into this season.

Post-Practice Comment #4:

Duncan Robinson touched on his shooting in game one, which it definitely wasn’t what it usually was. He said, “Truthfully, I feel like I’m getting good shots. I think I’m taking good shots.” Duncan was getting absolutely blanketed against the Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Bucks, but that wasn’t the case in game one against Boston. Most of his shots were open shots, but they just weren’t going in, which is unusual for Duncan Robinson. This definitely isn’t something that should be a concern, since Duncan is one of the deadliest and most confident shooters in the league right now. He should have a huge bounce back game on Thursday.

Post-Practice Comments #5:

While Duncan Robinson was talking with media, Soloman Hill decided to join in and yell “Shoot it.” While this doesn’t seem like a big deal, this is how the entire team feels when referring to Duncan Robinson. They don’t care if he’s missed his last 20 shots, they want him shooting that next one with confidence. This is also because he is one of their main keys to winning, since he’s the start of allowing their offense to run smoothly. And once again, he has not had a back to back bad game all season, which is why he should bounce back in game two, to try and put Miami up 2-0.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Comeback Win over Boston in Game One

The Miami Heat once again displayed their pure will and grittiness tonight, battling back to win in overtime, 117-114. A corner Jimmy Butler three late in the fourth, led to an overtime finish, which was a Jimmy Butler layup with the foul to give them the lead. Bam Adebayo’s game saving block on Jayson Tatum won Miami the game though. Here are some takeaways…

#1: First half fluctuates, Boston begins and Miami ends.

The Boston Celtics came out to start the game at their absolute best, while Miami played their worst. Marcus Smart was the clear hot hand for Boston, while Jayson Tatum followed close behind. And while it seemed that Boston would blow the doors off, Miami battled back. The score was tied at halftime, which it didn’t seem it was heading that was throughout. This is a clear representation of these two teams. Both Boston and Miami are streaky teams, that go through the highest of highs and lowest of lows. They each had their quarter, but ultimately the second half was the true test, which Boston controlled but Miami rallied back.

#2: Goran Dragic single-handedly brings Miami back.

It seems as if it’s the same story with Goran Dragic every game, an absolute offensive display. When it seemed as if Miami would never get back into an offensive flow, Goran fixed that per usual. He attacked the basket and controlled the mid-range, which is what is needed when trying to get your team out of the mud. He continually shows he’s the offensive engine, since he’s Miami’s most consistent scorer. But he can’t carry the while offensive load for 35 minutes a game. That’s why Jimmy Butler is looked to in the second half usually and down the stretch. It’s up to Jimmy to take control of that, which he did hitting a corner three pointer late in the fourth quarter.

#3: Bam Adebayo once again proves that he does everything on the floor.

It was talked about that Bam Adebayo would need to be the guy for Miami to win this series. But that doesn’t always mean scoring, it means impact. Bam Adebayo was flying across the court tonight, making Boston’s offense choppy. Kemba Walker was held to 2 first half points, which was mostly due to the constant energy of Bam on the pick and rolls. He also was huge for Miami with his play-making abilities, pulling Daniel Theis out of the paint and setting up others. This is something he brings to the table every single game, due to his guard-like play. This is Bam’s series, it’s up to him to bring that constant energy. And obviously the game winning block on Jayson Tatum, which describes Bam Adebayo.

#4: Tyler Herro and Jimmy Butler bounce off others.

It was clear that Tyler Herro got into an offensive rhythm once Goran Dragic got going. It was also because Tyler needed a little bit to settle in, and once he does, it’s trouble for Boston. Tyler mostly made himself useful with his ball-handling and passing, with 6 assists in the first half. Tyler’s ability to set up others during tough stretches is key. Jimmy also needed a boost to bounce off others, which is what he usually does in the fourth quarters of games. He’s a player that needs others to play good in order to thrive scoring the ball, but once Jimmy gets going, he’s hard to stop. This is just another evident representation of how Goran impacts others, and it’s needed more than ever right now.

#5: Miami’s scrappiness late on both sides of the ball wins them the game.

Once again it seemed as if the game was over, but with Miami the game is never over. Small plays win you playoff games. That includes the play that could’ve been an open Jae Crowder three, but he makes the high IQ play, assisting to Jimmy Butler for a dunk. Those are Miami Heat type plays. Another play that stands out was a Jimmy Butler kick out to Tyler Herro for an open three. These guys trust one another late in games, which isn’t common. But lastly, a late Jimmy Butler corner three forces overtime, and he finishes them off in overtime with an and 1 layup. But more importantly, a Bam Adebayo game saving block on a Jayson Tatum dunk attempt wins Miami the game.

 

5 Comments from Media Session with Spoelstra, Stevens, Tatum, Walker

Both the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics talked with media today after practice, one day before game one of the Eastern Conference Finals. Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker, and Brad Stevens had positive things to say about this Heat team, and basically denied the rivalry. Here’s what they all had to say today…

Post-Practice Comment #1:

Erik Spoelstra spoke about Miami’s preparation for the Celtics once again today. He said, “You have to find a way to get to the competition and play more consistent basketball than the opponent.” And that right there is the best possible summary of this series. Miami absolutely will need to be the most consistent team, since Boston at times can be streaky on the offensive side of the ball. And Miami does have a bunch of guys that have shown constant consistency, including Goran Dragic, Jae Crowder, and Bam Adebayo. There are advantages in Miami’s favor that they will need to capitalize on, and there’s a good chance they will.

Post-Practice Comment #2:

Coach Brad Stevens gave Miami some very positive comments talking with media today. He said, “Probably the closest team in the East that we’ve seen to the Warriors with regard to their cutting and shooting.” And well, Miami has the closest thing to the Splash Brothers right now with Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson. Stevens doubled down on his comment on Miami’s elite cutting abilities, calling them “one of the best cutting teams in the NBA.” A lot of that has to do with Bam’s ability to take opposing bigs out of the paint and utilize his elite play-making. He finished off saying that they must keep Miami off of the line, saying “easier said than done.”

Post-Practice Comment #3:

Kemba Walker touched on the history of the Boston and Miami rivalry. He said, “I’m just trying to play basketball…It’s going to be war. I’m looking forward to it.” It just truly isn’t the same rivalry as it has been in the past, since these teams have the utmost respect for one another. Kemba was complimentary of the Heat culture as well, saying “They play hard…I know those guys are going to be ready, but so are we. It’s going to be a fight.” It indeed will be a fight, and it might be most essential with who throws the first blow. And a lot of that will fall on the energy of Heat center Bam Adebayo.

Post-Practice Comment #4:

Gordon Hayward’s status will become very important in this Heat series, which there was a bit of an update this afternoon. Brad Stevens and Jayson Tatum mentioned that Gordon “looked good,” but he’s not entirely sure of an exact return date. The absence of Hayward gives Miami a much bigger advantage over Boston than they would’ve had. The defensive match-ups for Miami wouldn’t be as favorable, and Miami’s bench would have issues with Marcus Smart coming off the bench. Stevens said that he’s “getting better,” and some say that he should return at some point in the series. But if Miami throws the first punch, it may be too late.

Post-Practice Comment #5:

Jayson Tatum reflected back on the series with Toronto a bit, since he thinks there are some issues that can be fixed. He said, “We were a half-a-second from being up 3-0. We know we need to close out games when we can.” And when discussing closing games, there’s a question mark next to who is the go to closer for Boston. Is it Jayson Tatum? Is it Kemba Walker? Either way, Miami knows that the ball will be in Jimmy Butler’s hands on a final possession, which is important this far into the playoffs. And these games will be close down the stretch most likely, since Miami hasn’t been involved in one blowout playoff game yet. This truly will be very essential in this series.

5 Post-Practice Comments from Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic

The Miami Heat are officially playing the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals starting Tuesday, after Boston took down the Toronto Raptors in game seven. Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic spoke about the match-up with the Boston Celtics with media today after practice. Here’s what was said…

Post-Practice Comment #1:

Goran Dragic discussed Miami’s defensive match-ups with the Boston Celtics. He said, “We have a lot of guys who can guard multiple positions and I think we have the right guys who can defend their guys.” This mainly has to do with the amount of two-way wings that are on this current Heat roster, especially since they acquired Jae Crowder and Andre Iguodala at the trade deadline. Boston’s biggest strength is the amount of versatile wings as well, but with Gordon Hayward out, it hurts that depth slightly. Goran also mentioned that he thinks they can still improve on the defensive side of the ball, which is something that Bam talked about yesterday.

Post-Practice Comment #2:

Goran also touched on the planning for Jayson Tatum, as they did for Giannis Antetokounmpo. He said, “We cannot just throw the whole defense at him and forget about the other guys.” And that’s what they did against Milwaukee, since the Bucks role guys are not as offensively sound as Boston’s roster is. He also said, “They have a lot of guys who feed off of him and he’s proved he’s an all around player. It’s gonna have to be team defense.” And a lot of that is going to start with the defense of Goran. He is someone who struggles on the defensive end, which will allow Kemba Walker to attack and do what he does best. But since Boston runs a lot of stuff through a high pick and roll, it’ll allow Bam to step up on different guards, which is where he thrives. This is what Goran means when mentioning “team defense.”

Post-Practice Comment #3:

Jimmy Butler got asked about the talent on the Celtics roster, and he gave a very Jimmy like answer. He said, “They’ve got some really good players, as do we.” But not only does Miami have talent, they have dogs. Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard. That’s where Miami gains their advantage. Jimmy also mentioned that “We damn sure have to take it a game at a time.” This is what they’ve done all throughout the playoffs, which has led them to an 8-1 record, but now it’s even more important. Game one will be a clear indication on how Miami must play the rest of the series, but ultimately their going to try and prepare the same way they have all season.

Post-Practice Comment #4:

Jimmy Butler also talked about the Eastern Conference Finals from a larger perspective. He said, “We all think that we’re the better team, we all think that we’re supposed to be here.” Many players say this about their own teams, but Jimmy actually means it sincerely. He has the ultimate amount of trust and confidence in himself and his teammates. He also said, “Going into these games, it’s about us. We control our destiny right now.” This is basically what Jae Crowder said yesterday, when he said the only way they can be stopped is from within. Jimmy knows they control their own destiny, and now it’s up to him to step up against Boston.

Post-Practice Comment #5:

Jimmy Butler capped off his media session today talking about being underdogs. He said, “That’s a term that everyone else uses. I think we can have a chip on our shoulder…We’re supposed to be here. We’re not underdogs, we’re competitors.” Every player on this team likes to find an edge to give them a mental advantage, but ultimately Jimmy and others hold themselves to a higher standard. They’re “not embracing underdogs,” since they knew they’d be here. And this isn’t the final destination. A finals appearance isn’t the ultimate goal either. Winning an NBA championship is what they are aiming for, and they won’t be satisfied otherwise.

The Heat’s respect-earning elimination of the Bucks

Won’t make the playoffs? First round exit? No shooters? Jimmy can’t lead a team?

It only took the Miami Heat 9 games to gain the respect and attention of the national media. The Miami Heat are going to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2014 when Lebron, Wade, and Bosh looked to three-peat. Although they were deemed “underdogs” this whole season, those close to the Heat organization and the loyal fan base knew this Heat team had a high ceiling. 

In Game 1, Milwaukee had limited answers to Miami’s versatility, athleticism, and toughness. Jimmy Butler was clearly the best player on the court scoring 14 of his 40 points in the 4th quarter. Veteran point guard Goran Dragic added 27 points on 60% from the field. Bam Adebayo was a monster on the boards, grabbing 17 rebounds and limiting MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo to 18 points. Your stars win you games. This was exactly the case in Game 1. 

Game 2 was left to the officiating. Jimmy Butler sealed the game on two free throws after getting fouled on a jump shot as time expired leading to a 116-114 Heat win. This game was pure physicality, 71 foul shots were attempted, including two flagrant fouls and a technical. This was a grind out game and Miami’s versatility was on display with 7 players scoring in double digits. 

Next was the 4th quarter comeback. Miami outscored the Bucks 40-13 in the fourth quarter of Game 3. Miami’s defense was stellar in the closing minutes, forcing the Bucks into a prolonged scoring drought. They shot 0-10 from the three and 6-23 overall in the 4th quarter. Jimmy Butler put the team on his back scoring 17 of his 30 in the 4th. Miami also had great contributions from Bam Adebayo who posted a 20 point double double and Jae (Allen) Crowder who splashed in 5 three pointers. 

Milwaukee rallied without MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo in Game 4 after he suffered a right ankle sprain in the 2nd quarter that kept him sidelined the rest of the series. Miami could have taken advantage of this and swept, however, it was obvious they took their foot off the gas. They lost their intensity from the first three games, resulting in their sole loss of the playoffs in overtime. Miami had no struggles scoring the rock, however, their defense slipped. The Bucks shot 49% from the field behind Khris Middleton’s 36 points. This was a nice humbling for Heat fans and a great gut check for Miami. 

Bounce back! The Heat closed out the series against the Giannis-less Bucks. This game was an all-around effort with rookie Tyler Herro shining in their 103-94 win. Miami had 6 players in double digits, a theme that is becoming more and more common for this Heat team. The bench took the reins of this game with stellar performances from Kelly Olynyk and Andre Iguodala, in addition to Herro. 

Miami is not satisfied yet, and the goal is obviously a championship. Miami will play either the Celtics or the Raptors next round. This series proved that Miami is a legit contender for a championship. Between their all stars, sharpshooters, defensive flexibility, bench scoring, and grit, Miami has all the tools needed to compete with the best. 

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Series Ending Game 5 Win

The Miami Heat faced off against the Giannis-less Milwaukee Bucks in game 5, and came away with the win 103-94. This was behind the outstanding play of Tyler Herro and Kelly Olynyk, surprisingly on both sides of the ball. Here are my five takeaways…

#1: Turnovers early became problematic for Heat’s starting lineup.

Miami’s starting lineup had issues to start the game, since their offense was very choppy. This led to six turnovers to start the game, and three of them coming from Jimmy Butler. Miami has continued to pride themselves in their efficient and smooth ball-movement and passing throughout the season. But this was not the case for Jimmy Butler and company in the first quarter. Luckily, Miami’s second unit stepped up to bring Miami all the way back, which will be discussed further down the line. The Heat will need to take care of these turnover issues, since if you do that against a team like the Boston Celtics, they will indeed make you pay. But ultimately, this is the reason Miami plays their veteran guys so much in these situations, since they can settle Miami down.

#2: Jimmy Butler uncomfortable early, Andre Iguodala steps up as on court leader.

As talked about previously, Jimmy Butler was very careless with the ball in his hands early, which gave him three turnovers out the gate. But, veteran Andre Iguodala came in and took control of Miami’s offense. He’s continually been a guy that has made a major impact on the defensive side of the ball when he enters, but he was clearly more of a floor general tonight. His ability to slow the game down against a Milwaukee team that wants to run the break was fully on display. Another thing that stood out was that he’s able to slow the offense down, with rookie’s Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn on the floor, which is not easy to do.

#3: Miami’s second unit brings the intensity that they needed.

When discussing Miami’s issues to start the game, I mentioned that the second unit stepped up majorly on offense. Well, that’s exactly what happened. For starters, Kendrick Nunn appeared to be in mid-season form with the ball in his hands, attacking the rim with fire in his eyes. Kelly Olynyk played a great game shooting the ball from deep, but actually stood out with his defensive disruption in the paint. Tyler Herro was scoring the ball at will, and displayed more of that outstanding play-making abilities throughout, especially on the break. This is something Duncan Robinson mentioned yesterday, when he said that his passing stands out more than his scoring. And of course, Andre Iguodala. As I described before, Andre’s ability to provide veteran on-court leadership is a major attribute for this team right now. And his ability to disrupt Khris Middleton proved to be important as well. If Miami gets this bench unit every game, they’ll be a tough team to compete with.

#4: Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo seemed scared to score the ball.

It clearly wasn’t the same Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo that we’ve seen throughout this series. And it’s not that they were off, it’s that they aren’t searching to score the ball. Neither player prioritizes their scoring abilities, but when things are getting rough on offense, they need to step up. Jimmy has the ability every play to attack the basket and get a foul or a bucket. Bam, on the other hand, has been given the open mid-range that he’s taken advantage of in prior games. These two guys will need to be more assertive in the next series with the ball in their hands, especially in games that guys like Duncan Robinson are blanketed.

#5: As Miami heads to the Eastern Conference Finals, they need to put these past two games behind them.

The Miami Heat clearly haven’t played to the best of their abilities in the past two games. But although that is true, they must put these two games behind them to be totally focused for Boston or Toronto. I don’t have much doubt that this team of mentally tough players will be totally locked in, but they must press a total reset. For one, their offense should be able to go back to normal, using the roaming Duncan Robinson as they did all season. And obviously Miami’s defensive scheme will change, since both Boston and Toronto spread the floor tremendously. But now, it’s time for Miami to both physically and mentally reset, to get back to their early series play.

5 Comments from Media Session with Spoelstra, Robinson, Budenholzer

Erik Spoelstra and Duncan Robinson talked with media today, following an overtime loss in game 4 against the Giannis-less Milwaukee Bucks. All of the players shared a mutual theme post-game, which was the Bucks deserved to win. Here’s what was said today…

Post-Practice Comment #1:

Erik Spoelstra talked a little about yesterday’s game, but mentions that now it’s time to focus on the next game. He says, “It’s about getting to our game more consistently.” Some of that had to do with their stagnant offense yesterday, which many players noted post-game. Another reason for that was the fact that Jimmy Butler waited a little too long to get in a rhythm with the ball in his hands, which then it was too late. Spo also mentioned that they are now preparing for the Bucks with and without Giannis. This was a big reason Miami struggled on defense. Miami had to adjust mid-game from a Giannis centric defense scheme to a Khris Middleton and perimeter stopping defense. Now that Miami has time to prepare, they should be in much better shape either way.

Post-Practice Comment #2:

Tyler Herro did a bunch of Tyler Herro things late in yesterday’s game, hitting big shot after big shot. Erik Spoelstra discussed Tyler for a little bit, saying “His game continues to grow, and we’re going to ask more of him as the series goes on.” It truly is amazing that they are putting so much trust in a 20 year old rookie in the playoffs, but Tyler truly is built for this. One of his main attributes with his scoring that puts him over the top is his high level confidence. He wasn’t having the best game early, but still had the mental toughness to shoot those shots in stride in overtime. This is why Tyler Herro plays so many fourth quarter minutes. The coaches believe in him. His teammates believe in him. And most importantly he believes in himself.

Post-Practice Comment #3:

Milwaukee Bucks head coach, Mike Budenholzer, talked about the current status of Giannis Antetokounmpo’s injury. He said that he’s “getting treatment around the clock.” It was also reported that Giannis was seen at practice today with a boot on, and was walking with a hint of a limp, which is much expected. Budenholzer also mentioned that Giannis is doing “everything he can to make himself available.” Andre Iguodala mentioned today that Miami expects Giannis to play. Either way, Miami is now prepared for the Bucks with or without Giannis as Spo mentioned earlier, but this status will be something to keep an eye on over the next 24 hours.

Post-Practice Comment #4:

After Coach Erik Spoelstra touched on Tyler Herro’s play, Duncan expanded on it a little more. He said, “His confidence is special for sure, but the are he’s grown a lot is his feel.” He mentioned that the game is beginning to slow down a lot for him, and his decision making continues to stand out. He says that although he’s made a bunch of big shots throughout this series, some of his passes he’s made have been much more impressive. He finishes the conversation with “The best is yet to come with him.” And that’s indeed the truth. This team knows the upside that he has, which is why they trust him with the ball in his hands at the end of games.

Post-Practice Comment #5:

Duncan Robinson talked about the aggression he must bring on the offensive side of the ball every game. He said, “They’ve made adjustments to take away certain things that I like to do, but you must make adjustments to the adjustments.” He follows that saying that the most important thing for him is to continue to search for open shots. He also credited Milwaukee’s defense on him, but he knows he is still able to do what he has done all season. He finishes saying that he’s been very focused on trying to improve in that area, which is why he won’t get away from it. Duncan hit six threes in yesterday’s game against Milwaukee, which means he will be watched closely yet again in game five tomorrow.

5 Takeaways from Heat’s Comeback Win in Game Three over Bucks

The Milwaukee Bucks seemed to pull away late in the third quarter, but Miami stormed back to win, 115-100. Once again, this was led by the Miami Heat’s superstar Jimmy Butler. Here are my five takeaways from the game…

#1: Bam Adebayo gets busy offensively, but it results in early foul trouble.

Bam Adebayo was searching for baskets on the offensive end tonight, which was much needed for Miami. He was very active around the rim throughout, especially on second chance points. The problem with this aggression though, is that it results in offensive fouls. This is very similar to the offensive play style of Giannis Antetokounmpo, since his aggressiveness results in Miami drawing charges as well. Either way, Bam does so many things without the ball in his hands, that it doesn’t matter much. But he has the capability of making big plays offensively, as he did in the fourth quarter in the paint.

#2: Tyler Herro showcases his importance once again.

Tyler Herro clearly hasn’t been shy of the moment throughout the playoffs, and this continued tonight. It’s obvious that he’s an outstanding player scoring the ball, since he can both shoot and attack the rim. He displayed this with his ability to hit big shots, like the one with the shot clock expiring. It truly is amazing that Coach Erik Spoelstra has this amount of trust in his rookie Tyler Herro, to play major minutes in a playoff series. This is because he has the ability to make smart, veteran passes late in games, along with his elite scoring. But as many have said, Tyler Herro is not viewed as a rookie. He has a veteran mindset to make winning plays, which is why he’s the future of this team.

#3: Derrick Jones Jr steps up again off the bench, but in a different way. 

Derrick Jones Jr got some playing time once again, since Kelly Olynyk didn’t play tonight. It was clear that he’d give quality minutes on the defensive end, which he did, but he actually inserted himself on the offensive end. The reason he’s had issues offensively is because he’s unable to stretch the floor with a respected jump shot. But his jumper was respected tonight, since he hit two first-half threes with zero hesitation. And back to the defensive side, he not only made Giannis uncomfortable in many instances, he made everyone uncomfortable. This is because his defensive instincts allow him to make quick decisions, which disrupt different jump shooters. Although he only got first half minutes, those minutes were a huge contribution to this Heat win.

#4: Brook Lopez becomes a problem for Miami.

Brook Lopez played pretty similarly to the way he played in the first half of game one. Not only a threat from beyond the arc, but also a threat around the rim. This may have a little something to do with the absence of Kelly Olynyk and Bam Adebayo’s foul count, which is why Brook got aggressive. Either way, Miami will need to stop role players, like Brook, in this series, since Miami earned an advantage over Milwaukee in games one and two by stopping their supporting cast. Coach Spo seemed to adjust at halftime, which led to Miami shutting these guys down once again. Erik Spoelstra may be one of the biggest reasons for this Heat win.

#5: Jimmy Butler comes alive in the second half once again.

Jimmy Butler was 1 of 3 from the field mid-way through the third quarter, but then he turned the switch. He went on an 8-0 run, including two tough three pointers. When people talk about Jimmy Butler, they think he’s a pure scorer. But he’s not, he’s an important scorer. He knows when he needs to step up and score, and he also knows when to get his teammates involved and play his role. This was displayed when he made a huge pass to Jae Crowder late in the fourth. But most importantly, he has the ability to attack the basket at will, which usually results in a trip to the free throw line. This is what he got back to in the fourth quarter, which brought Miami all the way back, and ultimately led them to a win. Ladies and gentleman, this is Jimmy Butler.

5 Post-Practice Comments from Spoelstra, Crowder, Dragic

The Miami Heat had another early practice on Thursday, following Wednesday’s crazy finish against the Milwaukee Bucks. Erik Spoelstra most likely focused on late game execution today in practice, since it was pretty choppy for Miami down the stretch. Anyway, here’s what was said in today’s media session…

Post-Practice Comment #1:

Erik Spoelstra mentioned Goran Dragic’s winning mentality that was displayed yesterday. He said, “He’s one of the more skilled, experienced winners in this league.” It’s been pretty clear that Goran has yet to have a bad game in the playoffs thus far. He has the ability to attack the rim at will, which he constantly uses his backboard floater, and also his elite shooting ability makes him that much more of a threat. But most of all, as Spo mentioned, Goran is a winner. That’s why he fits in so well with teammate Jimmy Butler. For example, though he’s not a great defender, Goran made a crucial steal in game one which iced the game, and even poked the ball loose from Khris Middleton in game two, which slowed the game down. That’s why he will be on the court to close games no matter the situation.

Post-Practice Comment #2:

Erik Spoelstra was asked about an update on veteran Andre Iguodala, after he turned it pretty severely in yesterday’s game. Erik responded with “there’s no new update.” That definitely isn’t the best news, considering there was supposed to be an update today. If Andre was to be out a few games, that would mean Derrick Jones Jr would be back in Miami’s rotation. Derrick gave some pretty solid minutes in game two, especially with his scrappiness on the defensive end. It did seem as if he may be too small to guard Giannis one-on-one, which is why we will see him in lineups with Jae Crowder or Bam Adebayo. This will allow him to play off the ball, and do what he does best, which is utilizing his instinctive help defense.

Post-Practice Comment #3:

Jae Crowder was asked about his current feeling on this Heat team being up 2-0 on the Milwaukee Bucks. He said, “It’s definitely nothing right now.” The key for this Heat team now is to not get complacent. The reason I don’t think Miami will is because they have still yet to play their best game in this series. Jae also mentioned that he’s been down 2-0 before and still won the series. And honestly, Jae doesn’t seem to get enough credit for what he is doing in this Milwaukee series. For one, he’s knocked down some big shots for Miami down the stretches of both games. And second, he’s been an absolute Giannis stopper. Well, sort of. There’s no way to stop Giannis, but Jae Crowder does as good of a job as anybody guarding him, due to his size and physicality.

Post-Practice Comment #4:

Goran Dragic talked a little about the controversial call when he fouled Khris Middleton on a three point attempt. He said, “You can’t give a referee a chance to put the game in their hands.” He then mentioned how he needs to do a much better job to avoid fouling jump shooters, especially at the end of a game. He also mentioned, “You have smart players, too. They know how to flop.” This comment may have a little something to do with that Khris Middleton shot as well, when Khris made sure to absolutely sell the foul call. But, if Miami can win a game like this, they can win any game.

Post-Practice Comment #5:

Goran Dragic capped off his media session with the quote of the day. He said, “I’m 34 years old. I feel awesome.” As I’ve mentioned previously, some of the reason for Goran’s current play is because of the huge break, which seemed to get him back to his early season self. Another factor could be because of the current environment, which Goran mentioned today feels very similar to his summer three years ago when Slovenia won EuroBasket. Either way, Goran is 34 years old playing 34 minutes a game, and these are very quality minutes. Some also thought it had something to do with the match-ups, but Goran proved that wasn’t the case since he did pretty much whatever he wanted against Eric Bledsoe as well. If Goran keeps up this hot streak, this Miami team is a tough team to beat.

Voices

Bam Adebayo Looks to Dominate ECF vs. Celtics

It’s continually been clear that Bam Adebayo is the constant energy that keeps this Miami Heat team going.

But it seems even more essential against the Boston Celtics.

For starters, he will have the ability to utilize his full offensive package with the match-up of Daniel Theis. If he can get his mid-range jumper going early, this will slowly lure Theis out of the paint, which is what Bam ultimately wants. This then allows him to take him off the dribble to the basket, and since Theis is super aggressive on shot contests around the rim, there’s a good chance that he gets some free throws off of that.

He should be able to take advantage on the offensive glass, since he did that in all of the games with Boston. And this gets his confidence up a bit, which is something that holds much importance with Bam, since his aggression is based off his offensive flow.

He will also be a huge factor for Miami’s lethal shooter Duncan Robinson. Duncan hasn’t been able to breathe in the playoffs thus far, and it’s going to be the same exact situation against the Celtics. But with Bam Adebayo’s elite screen-setting and Daniel Theis’ inability to switch on Duncan off of screens, this will be essential.

And while discussing the offense, Erik Spoelstra will most likely run a lot of lineups with Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk on the floor. These two on the court together pose a lot of mismatches for Boston defensively. It means that Daniel Theis gets brought out to the perimeter due to Kelly’s elite shooting, and that Bam can take advantage of the smaller Jayson Tatum on the block. Jaylen Brown even had some minutes on Bam when Kelly was on the floor, which is even more of a favorable match-up.

And now to the defensive side of the ball, which is where he will absolutely dominate the series. It’s obvious that Bam is an above average defender on the perimeter, and can hold his own on opposing guards. And well, he’ll be seeing a lot of one-on-ones with guards in this series.

The Boston Celtics run a lot of stuff through the high pick and roll, which ultimately allows Kemba Walker to get to his strengths. Kemba has the option of shooting a pull up three or his go to step back mid-range with the opponent on their heels. But now with Bam most likely switching on Kemba on the perimeter, this will give him major trouble. This means that Kemba will be kicking it to one of the corners, one with Jayson Tatum being guarded by Jae Crowder and the other with Brown being guarded by Jimmy Butler. This does not mean that these guys aren’t going to continue to score the way they have all season, but it’s something that will be a game changer down the stretches of close games.

Ultimately, Jayson Tatum is going to get his and Jimmy Butler is going to get his. But each team’s second option will give their team the edge in this series. Boston’s second option may be Kemba Walker. It may be Jaylon Brown. But what is guaranteed is that Bam will be that second option for Miami, and as he said in his press conference, he will look to take more of an offensive load.

Bam Adebayo. You now have the keys to this team.

You’re one series away from reaching the NBA Finals. Go prove the haters wrong.

 

Brady Hawk (@BradyHawk305) contributes to Five on the Floor on the podcast and streaming shows. To sponsor his work, contact Sales@FiveReasonsSports.com 

This is Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo’s Time

Prior to the series against the Milwaukee Bucks, many talked about different guys that would need to step up in order to win. A lot of people said that it’s going to lay on the shoulders of the supporting cast on this Heat team, since that’s Milwaukee’s weakness.

Well, that hasn’t entirely been the case. And Miami is still up 3-0.

They have gotten major contributions from Goran Dragic, Jae Crowder, and Tyler Herro. But at the end of the day, stars win you playoff games.

To start with Jimmy Butler, he began the series with an offensive display which led to scoring 40 points in game one. And as soon as the national media saw this, they jumped on it. Mostly since people don’t fully understand the player and personality of Jimmy Butler. But clearly Miami does.

Everyone, including the Milwaukee Bucks, began to say that they must stop Jimmy Butler with the ball in his hands. And evidently, this is exactly what Jimmy wanted them to think.

He’s clearly a guy that is capable of putting up a bunch of points, but he doesn’t feel that always translates to a Heat win. He is such an elite facilitator and passer, and since there are so many knock down shooters on this Heat roster, he’d rather play to his strengths. And well, that’s what he did in game two.

He pretty much gave the scoring reigns to his offensive co-pilot Goran Dragic, which was an easy decision since it seems that Goran just can’t have a bad game. And most of the reason Goran was able to do this so well, was because Jimmy was being watched. And once again, when it mattered most, Jimmy got the ball in his hands with four seconds left, which led to him getting fouled on a jump shot and Jimmy hitting the game-winning free throw.

Seems as if Giannis Antetokounmpo got in his own head a little bit in game two, after he saw all of social media’s comments about not guarding Jimmy Butler in game one. But do you know who is never mentally impacted by the outside and constantly stays absolutely locked in. Jimmy Butler.

And finally in game three, he played half the game as he did in game one and half the game as he did in game two. That’s what makes Jimmy Butler so intriguing as a player. He seemed as if he couldn’t get an offensive rhythm, since he was 1 of 3 mid-way through the third quarter. Then he turned it on once again, proving the world that he’s not a pure scorer. But he’s an important scorer. He’s able to read a situation so well, that he knows what is needed at different points of the game.

And now to Bam Adebayo. Since Jimmy went on that late run in game three, Bam hasn’t gotten much recognition. But he should.

Bam scored 20 points on 88% shooting and grabbed 16 rebounds against the defensive player of the year in Giannis Antetokounmpo. It’s been talked about all season that Bam Adebayo has the ability to be an offensive force, but he needs to realize it. And well, it seemed as if he realized it yesterday.

That’s not even discussing his defensive impact guarding Giannis throughout the series, including when he stripped the ball from Giannis in game three, which proved to be a substantial play in the game.

Either way, Bam doesn’t care if he gets credit or gets recognition, he just wants to win. He knows what it’s like to have doubters, since many didn’t even know his name coming into this season, and now he’s a second option on a team heading towards the Eastern Conference Finals.

Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo weren’t looked at as the ideal duo heading into this postseason by many, since many didn’t think their offensive package was big enough. Well, that proved wrong when Jimmy and Bam scored 27 of the 40 fourth quarter points in game three, which ultimately close the game out to beat Milwaukee.

This is because, once again, stars win you playoff games.

Jimmy Butler. Bam Adebayo. This is your time. Go get what’s yours.

 

Brady Hawk (@BradyHawk305) is the youngest contributor in the Five Reasons Sports Network, and a frequent guest on Five on the Floor and #FloorsYours. If you want to sponsor this or any other content on the Five Reasons Sports Network, contact skolnick@fivereasonssports.com 

Thursday Trends: 3 Plays in the NBA Bubble

So some things never change.

Like Dion Waiters’ belief being stronger than your doubt.

But in these Bubble-licious times, much is different than we anticipated. We should be used to odd circumstances by now — after all, who knew we would have a reality TV star overriding the science-based recommendations of one of the most decorated infectious disease specialists on the planet? Or that pizza delivery drivers would become essential workers? Or that the Miami Marlins would be in first place in baseball’s National League East on August 6 after playing just six games?

Here are three NBA trends not everyone saw coming, and how seriously you should take them:

 

“Cash Considerations” Cashing In

Yes, cash considerations. That’s what the Phoenix Suns got for forward TJ Warren and a second-round pick on NBA Draft night. Warren, best known previously for getting the finger and getting called “trash” and “soft” and “not on my f—- level” by the Heat’s Jimmy Butler. Warren has been above everyone level’s in Orlando, averaging 39.7 points in three games, all Indiana Pacers wins.

Will it continue?: Well, not to this degree, since a run like this would rank with anything Michael Jordan ever did -to anyone other than LaBradford Smith. But, while few noticed, Warren was shooting 61 percent in February and 51 percent in March, while averaging 19.9 points per game. So he’s good.

The Betting Edge: Do you trust Indiana in the playoffs? That depends on Domantas Sabonis and Vic Oladipo more than Warren. If the Pacers keep winning, they’ll likely finish 4th or 5th in the East, especially since they have two regular Bubble games left with the Heat. Then they’ll likely face the Heat. And, the Butler-Warren intrigue aside, the Pacers aren’t beating the Heat unless they can throw more at Bam Adebayo than just Myles Turner up front, and can exploit the Heat’s point of attack defensive issues with Oladipo. Will Sabonis (foot) come back? Will Oladipo (knee) round into form? If not, the Pacers are still a first round exit.

 

Raptors Rise 

They’re taking this Lockdown in the Bubble seriously, eh? First in defense through three games with a ridiculous 96.1 rating. Small sample size? Sure. But there’s no reason it can’t continue. The Raptors are quick, long, switchy and deep, and they did a number on the Heat’s offense Monday, frustrating sniper Duncan Robinson off the floor. This has been the NBA’s best team since February 15.

Will it continue?: Why wouldn’t it? Toronto is fully healthy for the first time all season, and has developed a game independent of Kawhi Leonard. Nick Nurse has already proven to be an elite coach. Plus, Kyle Lowry is good for a final minute flop that seals the deal.

The Betting Edge: Keep picking the Raptors until other bettors catch on. News seems to travel slow to the States for some reason (we are dismantling the federal post office here, after all), and even with a few NBA analysts catching on, it’s not like anyone really listens to Kendrick Perkins.

 

Lakers Clankers 

They’re first in the West for sure, having clinched that already, even with LeBron James somehow characterizing that as some sort of unexpected achievement. Anthony Davis is taking the leap after the leap after the leap, establishing himself as a top-5 player until his bad luck forces him to fracture an orbital bone, and LeBron — while disconnected at times so far — should pick up his play when it matters. But here’s the thing: beyond them, this team just isn’t that good offensively, and it’s mostly reflected in their shooting. Even with Rajon Rondo absent for now (which is for the best), the Lakers are making just 25 percent of their three point shots in the Bubble regular season games, and it’s hard to see how that gets much better. That’s the reason they were dead last in offensive rating in the Bubble through four games, at 96.6, which is what TJ Warren now scores for Indiana in a quarter.

Will it last?: Well, this is almost impossible to predict, since you’re counting on the likes of the aforementioned erratic Waiters, TMZ Kyle Kuzma and the always amusing JR Smith. (And what happened to Danny Green?). The question is how much it matters if the Lakers defend as they can, even without Avery Bradley, and Davis and James play to their potential together.

The Betting Edge: It’s difficult to trade 2’s for 3’s all game. If the Lakers draw Portland in the first round, they’re unlikely to lose, but the Blazers might be worth a play on the points a couple of times, with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum likely to do damage.

 

Tyler Herro is here to silence his doubters

Tyler Christopher Herro is not someone who wants to just fade into the background. He is a brash rookie that doesn´t back down from anyone,  but his confidence doesn´t bleed into arrogance and he is also respectful of the coaching staff and the veterans that are eager to mold him into the next Miami Heat superstar.

Herro is the kind of shooter that the Miami Heat hasn´t seen since…well, ever. His seven three-pointers during a 134-129 win against the Washington Wizards set a Heat rookie record for threes made in a single game. The 20-year-old even already had his first signature moment in the NBA when he made American Airlines Arena go bonkers after a dramatic game-winning shot against the hated Philadelphia 76ers.

He could have done so many things on that play. Drive to the rim at full speed, to begin with, since he would most likely have gotten fouled. He could have passed the ball to the trailing Jimmy Butler, who had gotten the steal and is the team´s veteran star closer after all. But no, he pulled back and shot from long distance with no worries in the world. Like 20,000 people at the AAA and millions more in their homes weren´t holding their collective breath.

His restart debut in Orlando only emphasized that growth, which went beyond his seven points in 20 minutes of action off the bench during Miami’s 125-105 rout of the depleted Denver Nuggets. Herro seemed at ease and already showcases new facets of his offensive repertoire as well.

People seem to think that his upside is a Devin Booker-type player, but his mentality is different. Booker is about his numbers, while Herro is about rising to the moment.

In other words, the kid has cojones. Then again, we are talking about a guy that was born in Wisconsin but made for South Beach with a penchant for luxury cars and Gucci purses.

FROM SNOW PLOWER TO SHOT CALLER

Herro grew up in Milwaukee, and naturally his first job was as a snow plower for his dad Chris.

Life in the suburbs of dairy land wasn´t exactly like the basketball showcase of nearby Chicago. Far from it, the most famous alumni at his local Whitnail High School were former Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Joel Stave (who was the school’s all-time winningest QB but also was waived by six different NFL teams without ever taking a single snap) and 1980 Playboy Playmate of the Month Jeana Keough.

In other words, the fast lane to basketball glory wasn´t at 5000 South 116th Street, Greenfield, Wisconsin. However, if you are talented, the recruiters will find you.

Herro averaged 32.9 points per game and took his school to the sectional semifinals as a senior phenom, hitting game winning shots against archrivals, having ridiculous nights with 45-point triple-doubles and having his classmates call Milwaukee “Tyler City” while making First Team All-State. It didn’t matter if he was snubbed for the McDonald’s All-American game, schools like Kansas and Villanova were already knocking at him, but his original intention was to stay at home with the Badgers, committing verbally as a junior in 2017.

That senior year changed everything, and a visit from Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari made him question what he thought was so clear as well. That was how Calipari convinced Herro that the Wildcats were “a better fit” for him.

That didn’t sit well in Wisconsin.

“A lot of people were calling me ‘snake’ and stuff like that,” Herro told the Kentucky Kernel in 2018.  “Different Wisconsin fans coming to my games, booing me and stuff like that.”

Herro arrived at Rupp Arena ready to fill the void left by current Oklahoma City Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, one of five one-and-dones and six NBA-bound Wildcats and in 2018. Alexander averaged 14.4 points and took Kentucky to the Sweet 16, but Herro went a step further into the Elite Eight while also being second on the team averaging 14.0 points per contest and shooting 46.2% from the field, 35.5% from deep.

Calipari has seen many super talented prospects come and go during the past decade since he arrived at Kentucky in 2009, but he considers Herro one of his 10 all-time best clutch players and “bucket getters” (makes sense), and also one of his two best lockdown defenders. That’s curious, because Herro’s defense is actually one of the main things coaches, writers and fans emphasize as an area of improvement for the rookie in the NBA.

Herro started all four games for Kentucky during the NCAA Tournament, averaging 12.3 points and 3.5 assists…but his three-point percentage was a horrendous 18.8% (3-for-16), something to keep in mind for when the lights shine brightest in the NBA playoffs later this month.

His last game as a Wildcat was one to forget, as he scored just seven points going 3-for-11 from the field and 1-for-5 from deep in a 77-71 loss to fifth-seeded Auburn.

After the game, a dejected Herro sat in his locker fielding questions and said that “of course” that there was a chance he would be back in blue-and-white for a sophomore year.

However, the lure of being a potential lottery pick *https://nbadraftroom.com/p/2019-nba-mock-draft/) made him decide to turn pro instead.

DRAFT NIGHT DOUBTERS

And a lottery pick he was indeed, the last one actually, as Pat Riley picked him with the 14th  selection, just one spot after Kentucky top scorer P.J. Washington went to Charlotte,

In spite of that feel-good moment and Riley’s praise, the pick was met with a lot of skepticism in Miami, where the team was coming off a 39-43 season and resided in salary cap hell. Some fans booed the pick and Twitter didn’t hold back, as always.

Herro put in the work during the summer of 2019, and the second game of his NBA career was in Milwaukee. You would think his hometown would have been proud of him, but he got greeted by boos instead. Dwyane Wade, who also played college basketball in Milwaukee at Marquette and is the Heat’s all-time best player, came to his defense.

Herro didn’t care much, or at least he didn’t show it. His 14 points and five rebounds contributed to a thrilling 131-126 overtime win against the Eastern Conference’s best team, and that would be just the beginning of a fairytale season for both him and the team.

Let’s just say the bandwagon filled up quickly after that. “Old Ass Taintstick” is probably bragging about how he always loved Herro.

Herro injured his ankle in mid-February and the Heat went 7-9 in his absence during the following six weeks. His return would be short-lived, since it was during the final game before the pandemic against P.J. Washington’s Hornets.

Four months later, he is fully healed and better than ever, hoping to write a new chapter of his story as many experts are not so sure about the Heat’s chances to make it far in the playoffs. Then again, he already knows what to do with the doubters.

Jimmy Butler finally found a home in Miami

Every hero’s journey has his or her own origin story, a path they follow to their ultimate goal. That path is almost always filled with lessons learned, hardships endured, and battles won against villains/doubters that got in their way. The odds are stacked against them, but they persevere even if the odds are 14 million to 1.

The Miami Heat is ready for such a challenge, even if the formidable Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers stand in their way. They don’t just believe they can make it to the NBA Finals this fall, they know they can. That determination starts with their leader: Jimmy Butler.

Butler was pushed to his physical limits in Chicago, misunderstood in Minnesota and heartbroken in Philadelphia before arriving in Miami. He has never felt happier or more fulfilled than during this past year with the Heat, but he knows…He knows that he must reach another level to shock the world.

In order to do so, the hero Miami needs will have to reckon with his memories and his own limitations to break through. To understand Butler’s future, the key lies in his past.

DON’T EVER GIVE UP

Still, he loathes reliving the past — so much so that he has removed the rearview mirror on his car (yes, really) as a symbolic reminder to never look back.

Jimmy Butler can be intense. He will get in your face and dare you to play and practice until you pass out, demanding the same amount of selflessness and effort on the court and obsession off of it that he has, challenging preconceptions, and that is not for everyone. It takes a certain culture to embrace that.

We all like to think that we can and will get up from whatever blows life throws at us, but let’s face it. Like Rocky once said, “nobody is gonna hit as hard as life.”

Put yourself in Butler’s shoes:  You spend your childhood without a father after dad walks out on you. But you hold no grudges, and you keep going. You grow up in Tomball, Texas, a small town of 10,000+ people close to Houston but far from the spotlight. Its more famous resident for years was former Enron executive Sherron Watkins, but you dream big.

Then you are in middle school, just 13 years old, and you are coming home thinking about that girl you like or that math assignment due the next day. You open the door and your mom Londa tells you “I don’t like the look of you, you gotta go.”

A lot of things must have been going through his head. How can your own mother’s last words to you be so cutting, so searing? At that point, it’s easy to break if you feel all alone. Bur he held no grudges, and he kept going thanks to a support system that propped him up when he felt down.

Butler wasn’t homeless for long. He attended Tomball High School while staying with the Leslies and becoming friends with Jordan, who was two years younger and would eventually make it to the NFL.

Butler would play basketball with Jordan and be Tomball’s MVP after averaging 19 points during his senior year, but there were no state championships or All-American honors on his trophy case. Most disappointingly, there were no recruits or major scholarship offers. His recruiting profile was a faceless ghost, a two-star nobody. But he held no grudges, and he kept going.

FROM ZERO TO HERO

Butler wasn’t ready to give up on his basketball dreams, so he enrolled at a small school 200 miles away called Tyler Junior College. Nobody had ever made it to the NBA out of Tyler before, and nobody has since. He wasn’t even a Top 100 prospect, but the young Texan was relentless and Marquette University’s coach Buzz Williams took notice enough to offer him an athletic scholarship.

Butler arrived at Marquette and contributed as a sixth man to a team that went 25-10 and lost to Missouri in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Jimmy scored seven points in 30 minutes off the bench, but there was a moment that could have changed everything.

Marquette was up 78-76 with 1:17 to go when Butler took a shot from behind the arc. He was 0-for-3 in three pointers for the season, but he believed in himself. He could make it, he would ice the game and send Marquette to the Sweet 16. However, he missed it, and Missouri came back to win 83-79.

The kid who nobody gave two cents for a year earlier was now a key cog in a contender, and he was ready for more. By the time the 2010-11 campaign came around, Butler was leading the team in minutes with 34.6 per game as he was joined by future Heat teammate Jae Crowder.

Number 33 was cold-blooded, and eager for more. The 2011 NBA Draft awaited him.

THEY WERE SO WRONG

Butler has always had a chip on his shoulder, but more than anything he needed someone to believe in him. Enter Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.

The small forward out of Marquette was considered a “jack of all trades, master of none” by many.

In a draft that saw busts like Jan Vesely and Jimmer Fredette as Top 10 selections, destiny would see point guard Norris Cole picked 28th by the Bulls and traded to the Miami Heat. Butler was chosen two spots later, and he was eager to join Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah in Chicago for their quest to dethrone Miami’s own LeBron James, Wade and Bosh from the NBA throne.

Those Bulls would lose in five games to the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals while Butler played only 42 games and averaged barely 2.6 points in 8.6 minutes per game during the lockout shortened season. Most importantly, Derrick Rose tore his ACL during the first round of those playoffs, and everything changed forever for Butler.

Thibodeau trusted him more after that and gave Butler the chance to play in every single game for the first and only time in his career during the 2012-13 regular season, starting 20 of them. One of those starts was against the Heat, and Butler’s 17 points and four assists in 43 minutes helped snap Miami’s historic 27-game winning streak with a 101-97 win by the home team in Chicago.

As Butler evolved, so did his reputation as a clutch player both defensively and, most importantly for his development, offensively.

The problem was, Thibodeau was running him into the ground. Butler averaged career-highs in both 2014 and 2015 with 38.7 minutes per game on his way to being named the NBA’s Most Improved Player and an Eastern Conference All-Star for the first time before signing a five-year, $95 million extension with the Bulls.

2016 saw him get the nod and recognition he craved, getting the nod from Coach K to go to Rio and win the gold medal with Team USA, averaging 5.6 points and 14 minutes a game while playing in every single one of them. His best outing came in the Group Stage against Venezuela, contributing 17 points and a +26 plus/minus in a 113-69 rout.

Butler also fell in love with soccer while in Brazil, where fuchibol is a religion, and forged a friendship with Brazilian superstar Neymar a year later when both of them were in Paris for fashion week.

Back in America, Butler was thriving as Chicago’s go-to scorer in the playoffs, where he averaged over 22 points in 2015 and 2017 along with a blistering 42.9 minutes on the court. However, the Bulls were regressing as Butler was progressing, so the Bulls traded Jimmy to Minnesota on June 22, 2017 for young players such as Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen.

The Bulls were rebuilding, but Butler had visions of a championship with the Timberwolves alongside Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. In theory, those three should have at least put a scare into the Golden State Warriors, but Butler never meshed with them and requested a trade barely over a season after arriving.

THE LONG ROAD TO MIAMI

The “feud” between Butler and Towns was all sorts of ugly, and the press was having a field day concocting theories about Towns’ girlfriend cheating on him with Butler. There was a trend, and that trend was the perception of Butler as a destabilizer.

Minnesota was losing and looking like the NBA version of “Melrose Place”, but in reality all the personal stuff was secondary to what Butler saw as a lack of toughness and will to overcome in Towns and Wiggins.

It all erupted during a practice session that saw Butler play for the backups and decimate the Timberwolves’ starters, calling Towns “soft”. There was no coming back from calling out the franchise’s #1 draft pick, so the team took sides and chose Towns while trading Butler to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Butler was rubbing people the wrong way as a basketball nomad, a troublemaker and disruptor. He even was being labeled as a dreaded “locker room cancer” by the national talking heads.

In reality, Butler didn’t really want to go to Philly. He already had his sights set in South Florida even if the insiders thought otherwise.

Once in Philadelphia, he took that team to another level and found a kindred spirit in Joel Embiid. In fact, he played just as well as Kawhi Leonard during the Sixers-Raptors series that Toronto won in seven games thanks to Kawhi’s miracle shot.

In fact, he could have been the Game 7 hero after tying the game with a layup in the final seconds, but it was just another heartbreak for Jimmy.

Bur he held no grudges, and he kept going, reiterating his desire to play in Miami once again after that season was over. The problem was that Miami had no cap space, or so everybody thought.

Pat Riley pulled off his magic in a sign-and-trade that shipped a malcontent Hassan Whiteside to Portland and guard Josh Richardson to Philadelphia.

So now he is ready to finish what he started and being homeless no more. Butler found his basketball home in Miami, and his family with the Heat. His philosophy has rubbed off on his teammates, there is no softness in the red and white.

With allies like that, Butler believes nothing is impossible. Not after garnering his third career All-Star nod and leading the Heat to a 41-24 record this year. More than anything, he finally feels right at home.