SYSTEM ERROR: Heat Defy Odds Against Celtics in Conference Finals

Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics drives around Kyle Lowry of the Miami Heat during Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on May 17, 2023.
Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics drives around Kyle Lowry of the Miami Heat during Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on May 17, 2023. Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images
The Heat's gutsy 123-116 road win in Game 1 against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals had sports analysts, statisticians, and the self-proclaimed clairvoyants backpedaling harder and faster than a cornerback trying to cover Tyreek Hill.

But of all the naysayers, no one is smashing the turbo-back button harder than ESPN and its analytics department, which apparently is having trouble making sense of the Heat.

Have you tried unplugging it and plugging it back in, ESPN?

So You're Saying There's a Chance

After giving the Miami Heat a measly three-percent chance of defeating the Boston Celtics in the conference finals, one would think the ESPN data department would be scrambling to recalculate what a Game 1 victory has done for the Heat's chances.

Notwithstanding the Heat trouncing their rival on enemy turf, ESPN analytics is still projecting slim odds for the Heat, stating that the team has an insulting 2.6 percent chance of winning the NBA Championship — the whole thing.

Got it. Good talk. Offer declined.

Incalculable: Playoff Jimmy

It seems that ESPN's prediction engine has at least one fatal flaw — it's impossible to quantify the feats Jimmy Butler can achieve when the playoffs arrive.

Whatever data points are being used to calculate the Heat's chances must take into account the fact that come crunch time, Butler turns into a scorned basketball demigod out for revenge. Butler has never won the big one — and it's clear his hunger for a championship ring brings out the beast in him.

The star made it to the NBA Finals in 2020 with the Heat, but they lost to the Lakers in six games. Having his goal so closely in sight only to drop the series undoubtedly fanned his competitive flame.

"Playoff Jimmy" is a ruthless, unpredictable force on the court. Put that in the algorithm and get back to us, ESPN.

100 Percent Chance Haslem Doesn't Care

Regardless of what the analytics say, you can count one person out of giving a shit: 20-year Heat vet Udonis Haslem. In an appearance on the Dan LeBatard Show prior to the series, the crew asked him what he thought about his team being given a 3 percent shot at taking down the Game 1, -8.5 point favored Celtics. His response? The most UD thing we've ever heard — take your "assalytics" and shove them up your "assaholics."

Game 2 Incoming

While ESPN continues to crunch numbers, the Miami Heat will focus on what truly matters: Trying to steal both road games before the team heads back to Miami for Games 3 and 4.

Game 2 takes place tonight, May 19, at the TD Bank Center in Boston, with the tip set for 7:30 p.m.

If the Heat manage to take a 2-0 lead in the series, expect another math revision by the "experts."
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Ryan Yousefi is a freelance writer for Miami New Times, a lover of sports, and an expert consumer of craft beer and pho. Hanley Ramirez once stole a baseball from him and to this day still owes him $10.
Contact: Ryan Yousefi

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