Seven Ways the Miami Heat's 2016 Playoff Run Was a Huge Success
Unless your team wins it all, there's no way to escape the inevitable pain that comes with being eliminated from a playoff run. It's like being tapped in the nuts with a ball-peen hammer. It's a dull, implacable pain. It's not fun. It sucks, even. Yet that's exactly how Miami Heat fans feel today, after the 116-89 drubbing at the hands of the Toronto Raptors in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
The season is over. Poof. Just like that. It's really quite a bummer. And it's a finality that leaves a vacuum in our Heat-basketball-loving hearts.
But that emptiness can be filled by reflection, by looking back at the good times. That's because no matter how you cut it, the Heat's 2016 playoff run was really quite remarkable on multiple levels.
So while it may feel like someone put a cigarette out on your asshole, it's time to look back and reflect on just how this postseason was a successful one for the Heat.
Seven reasons, in fact:
1. The Heat overcame the kind of crap that would end most teams, let alone get to within one win of a conference final.
Think about this for a second. The Miami Heat lost its most important player, not to a knee issue or a foot issue or a broken bone. They lost their most important player to frickin' blood clots. BLOOD CLOTS. Despite his many efforts, Chris Bosh simply could not find a consensus from medical experts to allow him back onto the court for these playoffs. So he was relegated to wearing snazzy suits on the bench and give the occasional tip to his teammates and clap when things were great. But nothing can compare to having his ability to knock down his silky-smooth jumpers, his talent to crash the boards, and his magnificent dinosaur rawr.
Then there was the fact that the Heat lost Hassan Whiteside to an MCL sprain in the middle of the series against the Raptors. To be sure, this wasn't an injury to just some dude coming off the bench. It was Whiteside — a man who basically took over the Most Important Player mantle with Bosh out.
Yet despite losing two key starters, the Heat was one game away from getting to the Eastern Conference Finals. That's bananas.
Most other teams would implode and be sucked into another dimension if they had lost their two most important players. The Heat thrived.
2. Playoff Hassan Whiteside was the balls.
Hassan Whiteside had himself quite the roller-coaster season. Things began rocky for the seven-footer, with him disappearing at times early during the regular season and overall acting like a kid who had his phone taken away. You ever see a kid have his phone taken away? It's like his heart was ripped out of his chest through his asshole.
But then the All-Star break came around, and Hassan was suddenly transformed into a shot-blocking cyborg who occasionally destroyed skyscrapers whenever Dwyane Wade threw up an alley-oop for him. In the end, Hassan averaged 14.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 3.7 blocks per game, which eventually bled into the playoffs. Despite being dinged up, Whiteside obliterated the Charlotte Hornets in the paint in the first round, meeting Al Jefferson toe-to-giant-toe and coming through. And he was well on his way to doing much of the same against Toronto until he was derailed by that MCL strain.
There's no doubt, had Hassan not suffered that injury, the Heat would have had him feast against Bismack Biyombo in this series, and we could very well be talking about how he would match up against the Cavs. Instead, we're here. And though Hassan is a free agent this summer and will likely demand the max — something the Heat will have to wrestle with — there's no doubt that seeing him in action in the postseason was cool as shit. Stupid MCL strain.
3. Rook 1 and Rook 2 brought the ruckus.
Traditionally, NBA rookies morph into a bucket of piss when playoff time rolls around. It's just the law of the land. The playoffs are for the big boys, and rookies are relegated to the bench to watch the action like the rest of us mortals. But Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson took that notion, rolled it up into a ball, and punted it into the sun.
The rookies had their rookie moments, to be sure. But most of their time was spent denting opposing ass on both ends of the floor. Winslow, in particular, continued to display the kind of defensive prowess a ten-year All-Star veteran shows — at age 20. When he was called on to play center, he showed up, kung-fu-chopped Biyombo in the larynx, and commenced to show the Raptors just how large his balls are.
Richardson, meanwhile, played with a bum shoulder yet still knocked down timely threes and rammed it into Biyombo's face to literally show him how large Richardson's balls are.
These guys will be wrecking shit for years to come for the Heat. It was fun watching them break on through.
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