The Heat’s resiliency has them one win away from second place in the NBA Finals in three seasons.


The Miami Heat were the top seed in the Eastern Conference this season. They’ve been an underdog though, since the middle of the second round of the playoffs, and maybe even before that.

After taking care of the eighth-seeded Atlanta Hawks in the first round, the Heat jumped out to a 2-0 lead over the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference semifinals, but those two early wins came with the MVP runner-up Joel Embiid offside. with a concussion and a broken bone in his face. When Embiid returned to action, the Sixers posted two straight wins to even the series at 2-2.

At the time, there were many who expected the Sixers to win the series. In the end, they didn’t have enough juice to complete the comeback and Miami beat them in six games. But, there were still plenty of pundits (myself included) wondering what the series would have turned out if Embiid had been healthy throughout. Nonetheless, the Heat took care of business against Philadelphia and advanced to their second conference finals appearance in the last three seasons.


But, while they were able to handle the Sixers, the Heat still entered their conference finals matchup against the Boston Celtics as sizable underdogs, even though they were technically the highest seeds and thus had the advantage of play at home Of our eight NBA writers here at CBS Sports, none of us picked the Heat to win the series over the Celtics.

Not only did none of us make the Heat advance, but one of the eight made the series go beyond six games. Similarly, of the 20 ESPN writers who provided predictions for the series, only four chose Miami to advance.

The doubt was not limited to members of the media either. When asked who he thought Golden State would face in the NBA Finals, Warriors forward Draymond Green didn’t hesitate. “I’ll tell you who we’re going to play against,” he said. “We’re going to play Boston.”

Obviously, the Heat haven’t allowed the naysayers’ opinions into their locker room, which is to their credit. Instead, they have shown consistent resilience. Once Philly tied the series, the Heat didn’t fall apart. They responded with a dominant performance in front of their home fans in Game 5, then closed out the series against the Philadelphia faithful in Game 6.

With the betting odds stacked against them heading into the series with Boston, Miami responded with an impressive double-digit victory in Game 1. Then, on the brink of elimination and most counted after two ugly losses in a row. Games 4 and 5, the Heat pulled off a 111-103 victory in Game 6 to extend the series — and their season — and force a decisive Game 7 on Sunday night.

In Game 6, the Heat showed a collective ability to bounce back, as did several key contributors on their roster. After scoring 27 total points in Games 3, 4 and 5, Jimmy Butler led the Heat to victory with a playoff career-high 47 points in Game 6. He also added nine rebounds and eight assists in what was arguably his best performance of the postseason. so far.

Similarly, Kyle Lowry had more points (18) and assists (10) in Game 6 than in the rest of the series combined. Both guys have been battling injury issues this postseason, but have clearly tried to work through them and make themselves available to their team. Then there was Max Strus, who scored 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting from the field in Game 6 after going 0-for-16 in Games 4 and 5.

The fact that Miami was able to extend the series without the services of reigning Sixth Man of the Year Tyler Herro, who is sidelined with a groin strain, makes it all the more impressive. Herro has had his struggles this postseason, but he remains an important part of Miami’s offense on the offensive end. He’s not always pretty, but the Heat continue to find ways to win. Following their loss to Boston in Game 4, coach Erik Spoelstra summed up his team pretty succulently.

“Our guys love competition and our team has shown that we have a lot of different ways to find a solution to get a win,” Spoelstra said. “We can do it in the mud. We can win it ugly. We can do it when the floodgates open with 3-pointers. We can do it with Jimmy (Butler) taking control of a game. We can do it when he’s facilitating. We have the mental toughness and the toughness. group to be able to embrace what we have”.

The Heat are now just one win away from their second NBA Finals appearance in the last three seasons, a place few believed they would be before the start of the postseason. However, being overlooked is nothing new for this Heat team as it is something that has happened to them all year. Throughout the regular season, Miami went under the radar while other East teams, such as the Nets, Bucks and 76ers, dominated the headlines.

Now the Heat will enter Game 7 on their home court on Sunday night as small underdogs. But if this season has taught us anything, it’s this: bet against the Heat at your own risk.