The Miami Heat's gutsy, undermanned 115-104 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night did more than make the series 2-1 — it gave us a series. If the Heat had lost Game 3, you would have been hard-pressed to find anyone who would believe Miami could reel off four straight wins over LeBron James and the Lakers.
Fortunately, a 40-point triple-double performance by Jimmy Butler ensured that conversation would never take place. The only discussion now concerns whether the Heat can tie the series tonight at 9.
If the team were to pull it off, would this NBA title be the greatest the Heat has ever won? Would a 2020 NBA championship mean more to Miami Heat fans than the 2006, 2012, or 2013 titles?
We think so. Let's discuss why.
For the first time, Miami is the underdog. Miami has never entered the NBA Finals as a major underdog. The Big 3 series against the San Antonio Spurs in 2012 and 2013 were viewed as tossups. Nobody was counting out the Heat.
But the Heat is the bona fide underdog in this series against the Lakers. Upsetting them would shock the world and leave Heat fans with a taste in their mouths they've never had.
Jimmy Butler’s (40 PTS, 11 REB, 13 AST) big night guides the @MiamiHEAT to victory in Game 3! LAL leads series 2-1.— NBA (@NBA) October 5, 2020
Game 4: Tuesday - 9pm/et, ABC #NBAFinals
Kelly Olynyk: 17 PTS, 3 3PM
Tyler Herro: 17 PTS, 2 3PM
LeBron James: 25 PTS, 10 REB, 8 AST pic.twitter.com/95lAVhsBWG
Jimmy Butler is a one-man superteam. Jimmy Butler deserves this. He's out there with the Miami Heat on his back. In Game 2, he dropped 40 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists while only resting for 3 of the 48 minutes of play.
Dwyane Wade had Shaquille O'Neal. LeBron James had Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Jimmy Butler has Kelly Olynyk and 20-year-old rookie Tyler Herro making the biggest shots next to him.
Tyler Herro would start his career with an NBA title. Tyler Herro is 20 years old, and his rookie season will be longer than a calendar year. Nothing makes any sense in 2020. Herro is likely to be in Miami for a long time, so starting off his career with a big fat ring before he's legally able to buy himself a beer to celebrate would be the stuff of legends.
Having an NBA championship on your Wikipedia page in your rookie season is impressive. Being a large part of that happening at age 20 is downright incredible.
Erik Spoelstra would finally get credit for being a hall-of-fame coach. Over the years — all 12 of them as coach of the Miami Heat — Erik Spoelstra has been labeled a coach who only gets the results of the players he is given. Give him LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, and he will get you two NBA titles. Give him Hassan Whiteside and James Johnson, and he'd be lucky to make the playoffs.
This season, he has proven to all the clueless people who needed more proof that he's indeed a hall-of-fame head coach. An NBA title would do it for all the people in the back, still not paying attention. An NBA title would mark him as one of the greatest coaches in NBA history.
Starting the post-Wade era with a championship would be unbelievable. Who would have predicted that the year after Dwyane Wade retired at the end of a season in which the Heat completely missed the playoffs would find the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals? What? No way. Yeah, it's really happening.
The Heat winning the championship before Dwyane Wade even has a chance to get retired-fat is not something anyone saw coming. Definitely not this soon, anyway.
Beating LeBron James would be an all-time revenge move for Pat Riley. This goes without being said: Beating LeBron James in the NBA Finals would be the sweetest revenge. LeBron left Miami in the dust in 2014 and won a title in Cleveland before leaving for L.A.
Who would have thought he would find his way over to the Western Conference and face Miami in the NBA Finals? Yet here we are. The Heat has a chance to get revenge in the coldest way possible.
The Heat are the 5th NBA finalist to have a different leading scorer in each of the first three rounds of the playoffs: Goran Dragic in the First Round, Jimmy Butler in the Semis and Bam Adebayo in the Conference Finals.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 28, 2020
Each of the previous four teams went on to win the title. pic.twitter.com/KmqT8KzwbR
This is the most successful homegrown Heat team ever. Past Miami Heat champions have been an assortment of players the Heat brought to town for one reason: a championship RIGHT NOW. The 2020 Heat team is full of players the Heat selected in the draft or has homegrown for years, making it extra special if the team can win in a complete different fashion compared to the past.
Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro, Kendrick Nunn, and Derrick Jones Jr. know nothing but being a member of the Miami Heat. Without that core of young players, the Heat would be nowhere. Jimmy Bulter may be the engine, but the Heat's homegrown players are the wheels.
Goran Dragic deserves a ring more than any Heat player ever has. Goran Dragic came to the Miami Heat in a trade that was supposed to kickstart a new era of superteam. Then, Chris Bosh got blood clots, Wade left in free agency, and it all went to shit. Dragic, in the prime of his career, was suddenly playing with all kinds of mix-and-match teammates on middling Heat teams.
Now, as the Heat make the NBA Finals in his golden years, Dragic got hurt and is out of the series after barely one quarter of action. A championship for Goran Dragic would be one of our favorite South Florida storylines.
Pat Riley can retire in peace (if he wants to). Pat Riley couldn't retire with the Miami Heat such a mess. He refuses to go out like that. Following the departure of LeBron James in 2014, Riley has been chasing one more shot at going out on top. He's three wins away from it right now.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Miami New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Miami's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
If the Heat can win three more games, Pat Riley could retire to his Malibu beach house. He won't, but he could.
Udonis haslem has such and incredible effect on the Miami heat even though he doesn't play, but the man has got insanely contagious heart and passion pic.twitter.com/7qiE4RVfUF— ali razzaqi (@alirazzaqi_) October 5, 2020
Udonis Haslem can go out a four-time champion. Talk about betting on yourself. Udonis Haslem could have retired last season, but he decided he needed to come back and be a part of a young team in desperate need of leadership. Then the entire roster flipped, and he was suddenly on a squad that could compete.
They've competed, all right. All the way to three wins away from sending Udonis Haslem off on a float as a four-time NBA champion, and the only player to own every Miami Heat ring.