The Heat are likely going to be favored over whoever squeezes out the Indiana-Toronto series that wraps tonight the time you’re finishing your Game of Thrones-Silicon Valley doubleheader. Even if it’s Toronto (which hasn’t won a playoff series since 2001) and we get the No. 2 v. No. 3 seed matchup, it’ll still be the undercard series of the undercard East. But don’t sleep on it, because who the hell even knows what the Heat will do. They’re either a real threat to win the conference or they’re a team that lets Kemba Walker turn back the clock to the 2011 Big East Tournament at will.
Walker got his 23 a game in this series, but it took him 22 shots per to do it. Outside of him, Charlotte struggled to find anyone who could get hot at all. Meanwhile, the Heat were streaky as raw bacon, and letting the Hornets mosey back into the series after running away with the first two games. Yes, the Hornets pushed the Heat to a Game 7, by winning three relatively close games. But Miami romped in its four wins, finishing frickin’ +62 for a series in which the Hornets, with only 7 turnovers today, set a record for fewest turnovers in a seven-game series, per Elias.
The Heat are doing several things well that make them fun, not least is getting Joe Johnson, Amar’e Stoudamire, and Dwyane Wade to give you flashbacks to the aughts. The Heat are also doing a lot of this stuff right here:
That’s Hassan Whiteside, the league leader in blocks this year, doing his best Alonzo Mourning impersonation, starting a fast break for Goran Dragic, who had one of those weird, why-can’t-anyone-stop-cosplay-Steve-Nash games in which he scored 25 and looked like he was running the show throughout. Poor Al Jefferson seemed never to recover from the trauma and afterwards couldn’t bring himself to do any more than pretend to back down Whiteside, passing meekly to the perimeter whenever Whiteside bodied up on him.
The Heat are rickety-old; the Heat are still raw. The Heat are past their primes; the Heat are arriving ahead of schedule. Whatever, they’re mortal, like the rest of the field, and when they catch a rhythm they’re likely to make any series entertaining, even if it’s just by getting the likes of Goran Dragic hotter than popping grease.