In about two weeks, the Miami Heat and the rest of the NBA will be back in our lives. They'll be back in a way that a few months ago would have seemed laughable, but nonetheless, they'll be returning to action in an attempt to finish a season that was suspended owing to coronavirus.
Only 22 of the NBA's 30 teams have a shot at the championship. That includes the Miami Heat, which prior to the shutdown was considered a longshot to win it all.
Now the Heat's chances at winning a title in 2020 don't seem all that crazy. If there's one thing this year has taught us, it's that anything can happen.
So why not? The Miami Heat can realistically win this extremely odd NBA title. Here's why.
Unlike some other teams, every Heat player has bought in to playing in Orlando. The experiment that is the "NBA bubble" in Orlando is totally voluntary. Some players have opted out and decided to stay home. For example, the Los Angeles Lakers lost guard Avery Bradley, the Washington Wizards lost superstar Bradley Beal, and the Indiana Pacers could be without guard Victor Oladipo.
Other players who have previously tested positive for COVID-19, including Brooklyn Nets players DeAndre Jordan and Spencer Dinwiddie, have decided to skip the tournament to recover.
As it now stands, the Heat will have a full roster in Orlando. Advantage: Miami.
When asked how quickly the starting group can get back on the same page, Meyers Leonard is confident it won't take as long as some other teams.— Five Reasons Sports Network (@5ReasonsSports) July 6, 2020
"Heat culture is very real. That gives us a leg up."
"Here, everybody knows their role."
Miami Heat culture. Miami Heat center Meyers Leonard said it best: Miami culture is very real. A newcomer to the Heat this season, Leonard quickly learned that things are done differently in Miami.
In a setting that can be described as a glorified basketball camp, where each team is only as good as its own mental toughness and dedication, the Heat's tendency to demand the utmost from its players and staff will lead to an advantage as the mental anguish of being stuck in the bubble wears on teams.
The Heat has a track record of getting the best out of its players, sometimes in the extreme. Those established habits will give the team an edge in Orlando.
Coaching. The Miami Heat always has an advantage when it comes to coaching, but in the sort of situation the team is about to play in, having a true leader who has the experience and the respect of his players is invaluable. Erik Spoelstra has been through some wars with the Heat, from NBA Finals runs to seasons with injuries, and everything in between.
Coach Spo is a top-three current NBA coach and a no-doubt Hall of Fame coach when that time comes. Under the current odd circumstances, having a respected coach whom players trust and don't want to disappoint is a huge advantage.
Erik Spoelstra discussing why Jimmy Butler is an ideal leader in this bubble scenario pic.twitter.com/bVbT9giy4J— Clay Ferraro (@ClayWPLG) July 11, 2020
Jimmy Butler. Just listen to Spoelstra break down the incredible advantage it is to have Jimmy Butler on the Miami Heat as the team attempts to compete in the craziest scenario of all time. It's obvious having a player like Butler — who has been admittedly a bit extra with past teammates who weren't all-in — will be quite an asset in a controlled atmosphere like the NBA bubble, where no one is permitted to leave and basketball is, quite literally, life.
Jimmy Butler is a man who arrives at a 10 a.m. practice at 3:30 a.m. He has been eating and breathing basketball since long before everyone else was forced to. His mindset will rub off on younger teammates who don't want to let their leader down.
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No home-court advantage. Apparently, a few months of quarantine have made many fans forget just how dangerous this Miami Heat team was through 71 games. The Heat were 41-24 when the season stopped — good for fourth place in the East.
Now, everything stands equal. There's no home-court advantage for anyone.
Why does that matter? Because the Heat was terrible on the road this season. Miami was 14-19 on the road, compared to 27-5 at home. While it definitely will stink that the Heat won't get to play in front of the home fans, not having to play in someone else's house with all of their fans going wild is a definite plus for a team with so many young players who'd struggled on the road throughout 90 percent of the season.