Its never happened before and its no fluke! The Miami Heat barely made the playoffs, but are about to make the NBA Finals. This is why.
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We see playoff underdog stories in many sports. It happens often in the NFL. The small sample of the regular season means there often isn’t much that separates a wildcard team from a division winner. Wildcard teams have gone on to win the Super Bowl. It is fun to see them traverse a completely road schedule, but no one is ever shocked.
Similarly unsurprising is when an NHL team makes a deep run after a so-so regular season. Hockey is famous for seeing hot goaltenders or hot power play units carry an underdog through multiple rounds. Just this season, we saw the greatest regular season winner in league history bounced in round one, and the wildcard Florida Panthers remain alive in the conference finals.
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One sport where this type of thing doesn’t happen is the NBA. The only time it has happened was in a strike-shortened season, where, you guessed it, the sample size was smaller and less separated the top seeds from the bottom ones.
In a full season, what the Miami Heat are doing right now, on the precipice of making the finals in rather dominating fashion as an eight seed, has literally never happened in the history of this league. You could say it is a complete and utter fluke. Okay, but that doesn’t explain how the “fluke” was allowed to happen. As stated, this type of fluke does not happen in a sport like basketball. So we have three potential explanations. Go Heat go.
Miami Heat’s History Making Explanation
Todd Salem: Heat Accomplishing The Unthinkable
OPTION 1 – The NBA regular season doesn’t really matter anymore. It never mattered all that much considering how large a portion of the league reached the postseason, but now, perhaps, even the seeding lines don’t really matter. With the proliferation of load management and resting, teams are not showing the rest of the league their true potential, maybe at any point until the playoffs begin. That means a hypothetical eight seed could be just an eight seed because it allowed itself to meander through the regular season, never showing its true colors.
OPTION 2 – This is a Jimmy Butler thing. Butler himself is the playoff unveiling. He plays the regular season but doesn’t unleash himself until the postseason begins. Butler knows how much he needs to try to get his team into the playoffs, but doesn’t bring out his full bag until the playoffs actually begin; thus he turns into one of the five best players in the sport.
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OPTION 3 – This one is less clear; perhaps something to do with three-point shooting. We all logically know that college basketball has changed with the increased volume of three-point shooting, in the sense that Cinderella teams win all the time; the three-point shot is the great equalizer when a team has less speed, less talent, less athleticism. That makes a lot of sense in one-game scenarios. It doesn’t completely add up in the NBA postseason made up of multiple series.
And yet, the two teams set up to face off in the NBA Finals (barring a complete collapse by Miami) are also the top two teams in three-point shooting this postseason. For this theory to really stand up to scrutiny, Miami should be lapping the field, which isn’t happening, but there might be something here. After all, the Heat ranked a putrid 27th in the league in three-point percentage during the regular season…or does this prove option one instead of option three?
So what is the reason? Why does this Miami Heat run exist? How is this possible? Maybe you have a fourth option for me too. I’m all ears.
Dan Salem: Jimmy Butler Plus Lots of Threes
In a league predicated on super star players, I lean towards option two as the primary reason for Miami’s success. But the reason they are on the brink of the NBA Finals is because option two was combined with option three. Now the Miami Heat have a superstar player who is on another level in the playoffs, as well as one of the top two three-point shooting teams in the league. That equals a lot of points and desperate opponents.
The regular season might not matter all that much, but playoff seeding usually does. Miami has had to play a lot more playoff games, all without home-court advantage. This is because of their lackluster regular season. But what we are witnessing is not a combination of all three options stated above. The NBA does in fact reset in the playoffs, with added bonuses for those teams that did better during the regular season. The Miami Heat’s success spits in the face of all dynamics, regardless of significance.
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Miami barely made the NBA Playoffs. Nearly half the league qualified and Miami was one of the last teams in. They have taken this opportunity and done what no other team has ever been able to do. Thank Jimmy Butler, because his top five play has sparked the rest of the team to become a great scoring offense, specifically from three-point range. The best part of all of this is that when Miami makes the NBA Finals, they will be meeting up with another history making team.
Denver has reached the NBA Finals for the first time in its existence. They were one of the best teams, so it’s not a shock to see them playing for the title. But they’ve made history all the same, so which side of history will win? The team that has never been there, but was great all season, or the huge underdog that should not have even sniffed the Finals? We aren’t witnessing the same Miami Heat team that everyone assumed existed when the playoffs began. The Heat win, because they are no fluke. This is really happening.
Meet our Writers:
Dan Salem is Lead Editor, Writer, and Co-owner of BuzzChomp. He’s a published author, as well as an award winning Actor, Director and Producer. Visit M Square Productions for his film work, or get lost in his old-school comedy on Pillow Talk TV. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
Todd Salem is a Staff Writer and Contributing Editor at BuzzChomp. He’s also a fantasy football and fantasy baseball Staff Writer for RotoBaller. Follow him on Twitter or comment below for his unfiltered opinions.
Miami Heat Photo Credits: HoopsHabit.com (via Getty Images) and TheAthletic.com
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