I have kept quit in recent months regarding the Heat, with the hopes of not jinxing the team and their surging success, but things fell apart down the stretch, and the Heat now find themselves headed home to watch the playoffs from the couch.
The 2016-2017 Miami Heat started out as one of the worst team's in the entire NBA, embarrassingly bad to be honest, coming into January with a 10-24 record, but then in Mid-January, something incredible happened. When the Heat faced the Rockets on January 17th, they sat at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, with a record of 11 wins and 30 losses, but from 1/17 onward, they would become the hottest team in the NBA. Winners of 13 straight, including the win over the Rockets, and winning 17 of their next 20, the Heat found themselves climbing the Eastern Conference rankings, with a record of 28 wins and 33 losses.
As this season started, the expectations in Miami were abysmal, with D-Wade leaving town, Chris Bosh being officially pushed out, and with young, inexperienced players all-around, Coach Erik Spoelstra had his hands full. It was clear in the opening months of the season that this year would not be the Heat's year, but as everyone else counted them out from the start, they found something in themselves about halfway through the season that changed everything.
The surging play of Dion Waiters, with the consistent help of Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic, led the Heat on one of the hottest streaks in all of the NBA this season. However, down the stretch in the last month and a half, with the stakes being raised as they fought for the 8th seed in the East, things started to stumble. In March and April, the Heat dropped 8 big games, going 14-8, and letting their chances of making the playoffs slip away.
Granted, teams like the Pacers and Bulls did perform at higher levels in the last few weeks of the season than they had, but losing 3 of their final 7 games put the Heat in a hole they could not climb out of.
However, this season is something to build off of, because with all of their talent being young, potential stars, the Heat find themselves in a good position for next year if they can add some key pieces in the off-season. Whiteside is blossoming into a superstar at the Center position, and Dragic continues to get better, and with the amount of young talent, there is a really big upside for these guys. Coach Spo would have been my easy choice for Coach of The Year if the Heat had made the playoffs, turning this team from the dumpster fire they were into playoff contenders, but with them slipping at the end that may be a tough sell.
We will be back, don't you worry about it. Now bring D-Wade home.