Miami Heat star forward Jimmy Butler has never been one to back down from any challenge.
There was a time when he was one of the most underrated stars in the NBA. That changed in the bubble.
Who can forget his “Herculean” effort, as he spearheaded a Miami Heat run to the NBA Finals, while selling $20 cups of coffee out of his hotel suite.
The Heat fought valiantly but came up short against a loaded Lakers squad, losing in six hard-fought games.
Elevate Your Team
It was obvious that the engine of the team’s heart and hustle was the passionate and uber-competitive Butler. Nobody is talking about the Heat. Butler feels like that’s a mistake.
Last season was rough as injuries and an NBA Finals hangover led to a disappointing season.
The boys from “South Beach” got better this offseason after being swept and embarrassed by the Bucks in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. No way Pat Riley was going to stand by and not improve the roster following a beatdown like that.
On a podcast with Bally Sports, Butler had this to say:
“We’re not running from anybody, we never will, and we never have, and there’s no way around it. You have to go through each and every one of those teams. The Bucks being one, the Nets being one, and Philly being one. … We know that and we’re ready to compete.”
Contenders Or Pretenders?
The Heat should be very good overall. They have their lead All-Star in Butler, who exudes extreme confidence.
The continued development of two-way star Bam Adebayo at center and sharpshooters Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson is key.
With the additions of NBA champion and perennial All-star Kyle Lowry and PJ Tucker, two junkyard dogs who know what it takes to win an NBA title, this team should be very good overall.
Kyle Lowry to Bam Adebayo for the slam 🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/NAQVxlM2KX
— Will Manso (@WillManso) October 5, 2021
Let’s not forget Victor Oladipo, who’ll be out to start the season, but when healthy is an All-Star-caliber two-way player.
But Did They Do Enough To Be Contenders?
That question won’t be answered this early in the preseason. But on paper the talent to win big is there.
Improved Eastern Conference
The Eastern Conference is not the same conference that LeBron James dominated yearly with Cleveland. You have that juggernaut up in Brooklyn led by KD and Harden.
The Milwaukee Bucks are coming off their first title in 50 years and are led by reigning NBA Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Ben Simmons saga has engulfed the Sixers, and a step back is probably expected with Simmons on his way out of the door. Joel Embiid is still a problem.
Most fans don’t expect the Heat to be in the championship mix, but with world-beaters like Butler leading the charge, expect them to overachieve.
The Miami Heat culture prides itself on togetherness, toughness and grit led by team president Pat Riley and arguably the league’s best coach in Erik Spoelstra.
They’ll be a force and a tough out for any and everybody they face night in and night out, and if lightning strikes again as it did in the NBA bubble this team is very capable of making another run.