The Miami Heat ran out of gas, just like they did in 2014, 2020 NBA Finals

It’s been proven over the years that 'Heat Culture' is a real thing. But, so is heat exhaustion

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Miami ran outta gas in another Finals appearance
Miami ran outta gas in another Finals appearance
Photo: Jack Dempsey (AP)

When we were all stuck in the house in the middle of the pandemic, basketball was the first sport available to watch on TV. The Bubble proved that sports could go on despite COVID-19. And while the 2020 NBA Finals were forgettable to some, it gave us one of the best memorable memes of all time — exhausted Jimmy Butler. If the past is prologue, then it’s why the Miami Heat have run out of gas in their last three trips to the NBA Finals.

“Those last three or four minutes felt like a scene out of a movie,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. “Two teams in the center of the ring throwing haymaker after haymaker, and it’s not necessarily shot-making. It’s the effort. Guys were staggering around because both teams were playing and competing so hard. That’s what this league should be about.

“There’s no regrets on our end. There’s just sometimes where you get beat, you know, and Denver was the better basketball team in this series.”


The Heat are like roaches. If you don’t completely stomp them out, they’re going to keep coming back. This version of Miami resembled the one we saw in The Bubble that pushed the Lakers to six games, when many thought it would be over in five, or four. Monday night, it was a one-possession game with just seconds left on the clock before the Denver Nuggets finished them off by a final score of 94-89.

The Heat lost in 5 games, just like in 2014

Miami is now the seventh team to lose in five games in the NBA Finals since 2000. They join the 2001 Philadelphia 76ers, 2004 Los Angeles Lakers, 2009 Orlando Magic, 2012 Oklahoma City Thunder, 2017 Cleveland Cavaliers, and — ironically enough — the 2014 Miami Heat.


“We had a great first quarter, but from that point on they were the better team, and that’s why they’re the champions in 2014,” said LeBron James at the time. The Heat had a 29-22 lead after the first. They’d go on to lose by 17, as they only scored 29 points between the second and third quarters combined.

Leading up to this latest Finals run, the Heat played 25 “postseason games” in 63 days — as they lost to the Atlanta Hawks and barely survived against the Chicago Bulls to qualify for the playoffs after the Play-In Tournament. Their 2020 run to the Finals in The Bubble saw Miami playing 22 playoff games in 55 days.

Tired legs affect your shooting.

Miami was 9-for-26 from the field in the third quarter. They followed that up with a 5-for-21 performance in the fourth. Their last 24 minutes of basketball for the season produced a 14-for-47 shooting performance that equated to an abysmal 29.8 percent from the field.


Before LeBron James showed up to lead the Heat to four consecutive trips to the NBA Finals, and before Jimmy Butler would lead the franchise to the last series of the season twice in four years, there was Dwyane Wade. At age 24 and in just his third year in the league, Wade led Miami to their first NBA Championship by coming back from an 0-2 hole against the Dallas Mavericks.

That resolve and mental toughness was the foundation of “Heat Culture.” But, that 2006 team had something all the others didn’t — a young superstar. Talent isn’t necessarily what’s missing in Miami — youth is.