Drink It In, Heat Nation: Your Giant-Ass 2020 NBA Finals Preview

The Ultimate Miami Heat Playlist To Get You Ready For Game Time: Compiled By You, Heat Twitter

I asked and you delivered. Put this playlist on while you read this. Then put it on repeat every game day and get ready to run through a god damn wall. LET’S FUCKING GO.

The Block And The Importance of Being Cultured

Every NBA playoffs has a series-defining moment. And for the 2020 Miami Heat, it was The Block. The one where Bam ripped Jason Tatum’s soul directly from his body while sealing a Game 1 victory for the Heat and setting the tone for the rest of the series. Not only did Bam block the ever loving shit out of Tatum’s potential game-winning-oh-my-gahhh-Jason-Tatum-is-the-next-Kobe-hurrr-durrr dunk, he utterly wrecked everyone’s expectations of how this series would and should go. It was a block that woke up the basketball-watching to the fact that Bam Adebayo has arrived: fully armed and operational. It was a block that quieted all the Colin Cowherd mouth breathers of the world, not to mention alleged NBA scouts that called Bam’s matchup with Daniel Theis a wash (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA), and every single member of Celtics Nation — as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.

If you could bottle #Culture, or at least encapsulate it with one image — it’s The Block.

The Block is a loaded cornucopia of how and why Miami Heat Culture works: A largely unknown and dismissed young player taken middle of the first round and cast off by the so-called experts taking on a highly touted Future Star one-on-one.

Jason Tatum, the Next Guy Up, the Celtics’ Golden Boy Chosen One Danny Ainge Is A Genius And Supposed Heir to Kobe Bryant, takes off towards the basket for a supposed monster dunk that would have made all of ESPN collectively climax into their pants. But he is suddenly and violently met by Bam at the rim. Bam, showing impossible strength and apparently a wrist made of hard rubber, emphatically blocks the attempt.

Clean, strong, with authority.

A nation cheers.

A world watches in awe.

The image is forever burned in our collective brains.

Holy and shit what a play.

And with that, all of what Culture is supposed to be — hard work, dedication, sacrifice, defense first, blood, sweat, courage, ego-aside, badassery — flashes before the NBA’s collective consciousness. The Block was more than just a brilliant defensive play, it was a message to the rest of the league that Heat Culture is open for business and, brother, business is A-BOOMIN. Heat Culture is the cure to what ails all your losing ways. Tired of losing? Come take up the Culture. Want to be the best player you’ve ever been? Come take up the Culture. Want a real shot at winning a title and upping your legacy? Come take up the Culture.

It’s why Andre Iguodala told reporters on Tuesday, “Every young guy should experience what Heat Culture is like because it sets them up for success their entire career.”


Every kingdom LeBron James has ruled over has turned to sand upon his exit. The Cavaliers in 2010, the Cavaliers again in 2018, and we can only guess once he leaves L.A., and Anthony Davis goes too, how that will all turn out (history says: Not great, Bob!).

But the Miami Heat have remained.

The Miami Heat is the Infinity Stone.

Even after a few bad years wandering the wasteland of the Hassan Whiteside Era, bad contracts, and early playoff exits, the Heat still managed to right the ship by unloading bad players, refilling the coffers with young up-and-coming future All Stars, undrafted badasses who shoot lights out from downtown, and attracting top disgruntled talented vets like Jimmy Butler. The Heat are steady even as teams with once promising futures like the Cavs, Sixers, and Thunder all fall by the wayside.

Not only did Bam’s block usurp all other moments during these playoffs (and there are many “fuck yea!” moments, including the Heat dismantling Giannis and the Bucks, the sweep of the Pacers, Butler morphing into Playoff Jimmy), it sent a clear message:

Yes, we’re a fifth seed.

No, we weren’t expected to have gotten this far.

Yes, you can take your expectations and Vegas odds and roll them into a PVC pipe and shove them into your shit-hole.

The sheer impossibleness of that block is mind boggling. Bam, with his WEAK HAND, had to contort his body mid-air to not only contest Tatum, but meet him at the rim without putting a body on him as to not get a foul called by the shit-for-eyes officials. On the strength of an explosive hop and leap, Tatum brought the ball down full force, as he has a million times before in his career. And Bam somehow met all ball and pushed it back (again, with his WEAK HAND), stuffing the dunk and ending Tatum’s quest to be The Hero. It’s a block that needs to be sent to labs at NORAD and studied for decades to come.

Watch this nerd’s breakdown of how it was even better than we all think:

Things were never truly the same for the Celtics after The Block. Sure, they took two games in the series, but they also imploded in a locker room ruckus, wilted under the oppressive Heat zone defense, succumbed to The Baby Goat, and lost yet another Eastern Conference Finals, falling short of expectations and making ESPN very sad about the death of the dream of televising a Lakers-Celtics Finals where they could show more riveting images of Deuce Tatum on the sideline watching cartoons on an iPad.

And all of the experts’ insistence that Boston would storm back and take control of the series, and all of the hopes heaped upon Gordon Hayward’s Antebellum MAGA mustache, and all of Marcus Smart’s gritty-you-wish-he-was-on-your-team-flopping, and all of ESPN turning the camera on Jason Tatum’s kid every two minutes, could not and would not put it back together again.

Bam Adebayo’s block announced to the world that Culture is open for business, even as it takes care of business.

Bam’s block broke the Celtics.

Bam’s block made Paul Pierce shit his pants again (probably).

And it was all very beautiful.

And now we’re here.

Why This Whole Thing Matters

The Miami Heat are back in the Finals (!!!) And it matters. It matters because holy shit nuggets is it hard to get to this point. I mean, stupid hard. Never mind winning it. Just getting here is ridiculously difficult. Like, solving the Collatz Conjecture while someone taps you in the nuts with a ball-peen hammer difficult. So, let’s drink it up and enjoy every moment. DON’T TAKE OUR GREATNESS FOR GRANTED, DUMMIES.

Here’s the thing: Since 2000, only 14 NBA teams have reached the Finals. At the top, the Los Angeles Lakers (thanks to Kobe and Shaq and now LeBron and The Brow), getting there eight times. Know who comes in 2nd? YOUR MIAMI HEAT FUCK YEAH.

The Heat have now reached the NBA Finals six times, thanks mainly to Dwyane Wade and Shaq and then Dwyane Wade and his Two Amazing Friends (feat. Ray Allen). The Warriors have been there five times, as have the Spurs, and the Cavaliers (there’s LeBron again), then the Mavs (twice), and Celtics (also twice LOLOLO), and Pistons and Nets (twice). After that, we’ve seen the Raptors, Thunder, Magic, 76ers, and Pacers (remember Rik Smits? What a weird time that was) all getting there once each. That’s it. Out of 30 teams, 14 of them have Tenzing Norgay’d their way up the NBA mountaintop. And while the Heat have gotten there the second-most times (which in and of itself is fuckin bananas when you think about it), it’s really tough to get to this point.

Finals Appearances Since 2000
Lakers 8
Heat 6
Warriors 5
Cavaliers 5
Spurs 5
Mavericks 2


Celtics 2


Pistons 2
Nets 2
Raptors 1
Thunder 1
Magic 1
76ers 1
Pacers 1

The NBA Playoffs are a gauntlet-crammed crucible filled with rage-fueled barbarians in leather-and-spike thongs hurdling spears and tridents at your throat. It’s filled with collapsing ancient booby-trapped temples and man-eating sharks and giant boulders rolling down hills from secret chambers. You have to not only be gifted at putting the ball into the hoop more times than the other team, but you have to have the mental toughness of a Shackleton and the physical dexterity of that guy in the meme with the giant cock (don’t Google it, trust us, let’s just move on) to get through it unscathed.

Point is, this moment right here, right now, is a rare one. It’s never guaranteed. And it can never be taken for granted. The moment we start thinking “oh we’re going to be here every year” is the moment we all collectively become the 2008 Celtics. Fuck that.

10 Most Important Miami Heat NBA Playoffs Moments Ranked

1. Dwyane Wade Announce His Presence With Authority In the 2006 NBA Finals: The franchise’s first ever trip to the Finals, which culminated in their first-ever title. There was old Shaq, acquired via a trade with the Lakers a season ago, trying to win one without Kobe. And there was Alonzo Mourning, fresh off his kidney failing him, staring at the eternal abyss that consumed other Greats To Never Win A Title Like Barkley, Malone, Ewing, and countless others. And there was Coach Pat Riley, telling his guys to pack only one suit and dunking his head into a vat of ice water until he almost died to show his guys what it took to win (Pat Riley is fucking crazy!) And there was young Dwyane Wade who, when facing an 0-2 series deficit that included the city of Dallas already mapping out the championship parade route, said, “Fuck this! I’m not going out like that!” and then proceeded to ram his fist into the Mavericks’ collective chests and pull out their spinal cords and skulls like Predator to add to his trophy case. Wade basically singlehandedly won the ’06 Finals, becoming the youngest player to win Finals MVP since Magic Johnson, and the first shooting guard to win Finals MVP since Michael Jordan. This was the Finals that put the Heat on the map as a world class organization. The Finals that announced to the world that D-Wade had joined the chat. The Finals that cemented Riley’s promise of a parade down Biscayne Blvd. This is the one that started it all.

2. The Shot: When you have a play that can be instantly recognized by its own name, you know it’s fucking iconic.

3. Young Dwyane Wade Takes Down the New Orleans Hornets: “Stan Van Gundy went to the rookie and he delivered! Haha! Listen to the crowd, baby.”

4. LeBron’s First Title: LeBron James’ legacy as one of, if not the, greatest players in NBA history has already been cemented. And when they do a career retrospective whenever he decides to hang em up, the first clip they’ll inevitably show is his chase-down block on Andre Iguodala in the 2016 Finals. Followed by all the hoopla about him bringing a championship to a title-starved city of Cleveland, followed by other frivolous bullshit. But never forget — his very first title was with the Miami Heat. This is where he learned how to win. This is where he’ll have won the majority of his career titles. This is where it began. They can hate and hate and hate all they want. But that doesn’t change this one irrefutable fact: This is where LeBron James broke his Larry O’Brien cherry.

5. LeBron’s Cobradick Game 6 vs The Celtics: With the Heat facing an embarrassing elimination and the certain avalanche of shit to come from fans and media alike in the wake of failure, they traveled to Boston where it was win-or-end the grand experiment. The stakes had never been higher, for him or the Heat. So, with Boston fans breathing down their drunken assholery all over the team at the Garden, and no one knowing how shitty the Heat role players might be on this particular night, one man had the coal fire nuts to make a stand against the sea of green douche and obliterate their hopes and dreams into a fine powder: LeBron Raymone James, aka COBRADICK. 45 points, 15 rebounds. An underly devastating performance. The game would catapult the Heat into a Game 7 win and an eventual Finals win. This game also gave us the most iconic LeBron image ever, which the internet insists on using to plaster other people’s faces on because the internet is filled with fucking hacks.

6. The Block: Bam Adebayo serving up rectum sandwiches to every dipshit who thought he was just some guy. And against that team, of all teams. Somewhere Bill Simmons is walking his dog, sad texting his dad and his buddies Sully and Bean-O. No matter what happens from here on out, The Block is a seminal moment that lives in Heat Lore forever.

7. Purple Shirt Guy: It was 2016 and Dwyane Wade, post-Big Three, wasn’t considered the spry young warrior he once was. The Heat entered a slugfest with the Charlotte Hornets that went seven games. The Heat dropped Games 3, 4, and 5 to a team lead by Jeremy Lin and his manbun. To make matters worse, at every Charlotte home game, some doucher in a purple shirt sitting court side endlessly taunted Wade and the Heat from the opening tip. He became a media darling, because he was rich and wore a purple shirt and because he actually took credit for those three Charlotte wins. So when a win-or-go-home Game 6 on the road rolled around for the Heat, there he was — Purple Shirt Guy, choosing to once again taunt Dwyane Wade. He chose poorly. Wade went on to personally kick any hopes of the Hornets taking the series headfirst into a ditch and then promptly introduced Purple Shirt Guy’s asshole to his foot a few dozen times. Not only did the Legend of Dwyane Wade successfully murder the shit out of Purple Shirt Guy’s bullshit, sending him away into obscurity, forever banishing him into The Forbidden Zone, the Heat went and won Game 7 as well, taking the series from Charlotte’s cold dead hands. Dwyane Wade was awesome, in case you didn’t know.

8. The Other Block: Fuck a Danny Green. CB Forever.

9. Dwyane Wade’s Dunk On Kendrick Perkins: Look, I know he’s suddenly our friend and coined the nickname Dem Goons From Dade. But he’ll always be Moose Pussy to OG #HeatTwitter. A big menacing oaf who only knew how to hack players and run his big dumb mouth. So when D-Wade took it to him on this ridiculous dunk in Game 1 of the 2013 Finals, leaving Perkins a heaping pile of ash under the basket, it was one of the most satisfying moments in Heat Finals history (Edit: The video above is from a regular season game but we’re keeping it up because, fuck Kendrick Perkins)

10: Mike Miller’s Shoeless Three: Remember how Mike Miller ran around like a mix of the Scarecrow and Tin-Man, all flailing injured limbs, held together with duct tape and gum? And then remember when he came into the game and turned the tide with his 3-point shooting prowess WITH ONE SHOE. Mike Miller is fuckin awesome.


Erik Spoelstra Is the Best Coach in the NBA Right Now, or How I Learned To Hate The Analytics Nerds’ Unearned Love For Brad Stevens

Ever since the Celtics hired Brad Stevens back in 2013 and all throughout the time since, we’ve had to deal with the ceaseless yammering of a million whining gravy-stains-on-their calculators analytic nerds about how Brad Stevens is supposedly the best and brightest coach in the NBA because he likes math and defense or some such horsecockery. And that Spo, for all his winning, was only successful because he had the luxury of having LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh suit up for him. Because Brad Stevens only coaches sock puppets and not an actual NBA team filled with All Stars and big-play guys, apparently.

So, as these things go, it was time to settle this nonsense once and for all in this year’s Eastern Conference Finals. Stevens and his team of really good players versus Erik Spoelstra and his Wade-less, LeBron-less seemingly less-talented, grungy-ass dog squad.

And then Spo proceeded to make things bad for Stevens and worse for the pasty basketball podcast nerds.

In just six games, Spo settled the argument by reaching into Brad’s high-waisted mom jeans and tearing out his proverbial heart through his proverbial asshole with his beautiful basketball mind.

Spo has always had the “disadvantage” of having coached Wade and LeBron in terms of those things counting against whether he’s an elite coach or not. Never mind that these same people consider Phil Jackson the greatest coach ever even though he’s never won a title without Jordan or Pippen or Kobe or Shaq, and never mind that LeBron had his most dominant years in a Heat uniform. Spoelstra finally had a chance to show the world his meddle. And he showed them the shit out of his meddle.

So enough already with crowning a guy as the best when he hasn’t won jack dick in the NBA.

Erik Spoelstra is the best coach in the league. Period. Done. Shove your unearned love of Brad Stevens into an Elon Musk billion dollar fart rocket and shoot it directly into the sun.


2020 Finals Storylines Ranked

1. LeBron vs Riley: Everyone talking about this series say that this is the main narrative of these Finals and they’re damn right. The Heat getting here six years after LeBron left, showing up with a rag tag group of hard-working Culture-fueled warriors built in the mold of a Pat Riley team. LeBron versus the team that gave him his first two rings. A dog fight shall ensue, and LeBron knows it. The LeBron-Riley breakup has been mired in messiness, pettiness, and bitterness over the years. There’s mutual respect, to be sure. And the two men are cut from the same competitive cloth. But LeBron left Pat hanging high and dry when he left, not alerting the team of his intentions of going back to Cleveland, and reportedly treating a World Cup game on TV more important than a one-on-one meeting with Riley. In turn, Riley threw shade at LeBron, making comments about guts, and agendas, and not leaving when things get hard. Two GOATS. It’s great.

2. Riley vs Lakers: Pat Riley cut his teeth with the Lakers. Lakers fans love him. Wild that, after all these years, they’re finally facing each other in the Finals.

3. Jimmy’s Collective Fuck You To His Doubters: It’s crazy that just a little over a year ago, Jimmy Butler was introduced as the newest member of the Miami Heat. Everything that transpired to get him here is amazing. From Dwyane Wade leaving us after things turned sour with Pat Riley and he signed with the Bulls where he met Jimmy and proceeded to plant the seeds of Heat Culture into Jimmy’s brain, to Jimmy having to endure an awful time in Minnesota, to him then being traded to a championship contenting Sixers team, to having a balls-out playoffs series performance against the Raptors that was lost by an improbable shot made by Kawhi Leonard, to the Sixers deciding he was the problem and shipping him off, to Riley pouncing on all that, to the experts saying Jimmy whined his way out of Philly to go to the wrong team — a team that would only end up being a pathetic first round exit to…… well…… HERE. THE NBA FINALS. Holy shit what a ride. And now Jimmy Butler is where he belongs. And no, he did not suffer a first-round exit with the wrong team. He led that team into the NBA Finals.


6 Reasons The Heat Can Win

1. They Can Be The 2011 Mavericks (or the 2004 Detroit Pistons): The Heat are once again entering a series as an underdog and it’s appropriate that this run ends with the Final Boss Battle against LeBron and Anthony Davis. So, the Heat have their work cut out for them. But, as we’ve seen against the favored Bucks and again against the favored Celtics, it’s not an impossible task. We’ve seen Davids take down Goliaths in the NBA Finals before. The 2004 Pistons shocked the world when they defeated Kobe, Shaq, and the mighty L.A. Lakers. And then there was the heart-wrecking pain that was the 2011 Finals when the Mavericks beat LeBron and the Heat. If the Heat can key in on the Big Two, clog the paint and force L.A. to shoot, and muck things up with their vaunted Zone defense, knock down their threes, stay aggressive in attacking the rim, they have a puncher’s chance. We’ve seen LeBron get outplayed and man-handled by a scrappy JJ Barea. Now he has to face a full squad of scrappers. It’s very possible the Heat can do this, especially if they can frustrate LeBron and defuse the Anthony Davis bomb.

2. Jimmy Buckets Turns Into Jimmy Cojones: Jimmy has been ferocious in these playoffs. He’s also had moments where he’s vanished. Those moments usually meant a Heat loss (only 3 of them). So we have Jimmy Buckets, which consists of heady plays and drive and kicks and whatnot and that’s all good and fine. But to have a chance against these Lakers, we need more than Jimmy Buckets. We need Jimmy Cojones. Jimmy Cojones flexes his nuts and rescues his team from certain doom. Jimmy Cojones just doesn’t set up his teammates, or dive for loose balls. Jimmy Cojones takes shit over. He attacks the basket, he makes threes, he knocks down jumpers, he plays suffocating defense and causes turnovers. Jimmy Cojones incinerates his opponents into a fine powdery ash. Jimmy Cojones doesn’t do pushups, he pushes down the Earth. Jimmy Cojones is a badass motherfucker. We need Jimmy Cojones.

3. Tyler Herro Unlocks BABY GOAT Mode and Fucks Shit Up Good And Proper: The stage has been set for young Tyler to show the world that he belongs in the conversation of Future Ball Wreckers of the NBA. From Magic to D-Wade, the Finals have had their share of young players announcing their greatness with championship performances. Tyler has shown he can go all NBA JAMS ON FIRE and take over games. With all the talk about Luca and Booker and Tatum being Next Up, it just might be 20-year-old Tyler Herro that gets there first.

4. MECHA BAM: Remember when Godzilla fucked up all of Japan and then they had to build a mechanical Godzilla to keep the original Godzilla for wreaking more havoc? Mecha Godzilla was the baddest monster on the block. That’s what we need from Bam in this series. We need more than Bam. We need MECHA BAM. Expect the Lakers to throw all of the big men at Bam. AD, Howard, JaVelle — they’re all going to get a crack at him. But, just as he showed against Boston, Bam has the ability to turn on the thrusters and take the fuck over. We’re going to need more Game 6 Against Boston Bams to win this series, and we believe he has it in him.

5. GORAN BEING DRAGON: Goran Dragic has been playing out of his Slovenian mind in these playoffs. He’s the engine that makes this thing go, and you know he’s going to come out ALL DRAGON in his first-ever Finals appearance. We’re going to need The Dragon more than ever. It’s his time.

6. The X-Factors: Andre Iguodala and Jae Crowder were brought here because of their defensive prowess, to be LeBron stoppers. They came through big in the Eastern playoffs. Now it’s time to sweep the damn leg. Then there’s guys like Kelly O, and even Solomon Hill. Shit we might even see Meyers Leonard. All hands on deck. Aside from Jimmy, Goran, Bam, and Tyler, someone else is going to need to make their mark — the kind made by Shane Battier and Mike Miller and Birdman before them.


Heat in 4.

Why in 4?

Chris Joseph (@ByChrisJoseph) is a host of the Five Reasons comedy and politics podcast, Ballscast. He’s written about sports and movies for Deadspin, Miami New Times, CBS Sports, and several other outlets.

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