The Miami Heat seemed to put the Eastern Conference on notice with their offseason wheeling and dealing. Unfortunately, the hard-nosed pundits at ESPN didn’t think they did quite enough to capture home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.
A panel of NBA Insiders predicted the win-loss records for every Eastern Conference team, including their predicted order of finish. They put the Miami Heat (49-33) in fourth place, right behind the Philadelphia 76ers (50-33) and in front of the Atlanta Hawks (47-35).
ESPN projected the Brooklyn Nets (58-24) and the Milwaukee Bucks (57-25) as the top two squads in the East. Tim Bontemps wrote the following:
The Heat went through a significant roster makeover this offseason, led by signing Kyle Lowry and P.J. Tucker – two definitional “Heat culture” players – and giving superstar forward Jimmy Butler a contract extension. Those three, plus Bam Adebayo, will give Miami emphatic toughness.
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Pat Riley Not Done Tinkering with Lineup?
On the surface, it sure looks like the Heat have a solid 20-player roster ready for training camp. The surprising decision to sign 6-foot-5 forward Caleb Martin on Wednesday seemed to indicate a sudden change of course for the franchise. Many assumed Miami would add a proven veteran in free agency, perhaps a guy like JJ Redick, Wesley Matthews, or DeMarcus Cousins.
“None of those [players] were in play for the two-way deal signed by Martin, nor for the Exhibit 10 contracts spent on undrafted college players who will be cut before the end of training camp,” said Winderman. “Basically, the Heat’s real work was done by the midpoint of August, when their 14-player core was completed.”
Winderman pointed out that there was no space left under the luxury tax threshold. Heat president Pat Riley will probably re-evaluate the roster after Dec. 15. For now, he likes the current mix of guys.
Heat Celebrate ‘Block Heard Around the World’
It was one year ago today (Sept. 15) when Bam Adebayo viciously blocked Jayson Tatum in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The play went viral. The Heat beat the Celtics in the series opener and went on to close out Boston in six games en route to the NBA Finals.
That seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it? Back to the “Block Heard Around the World.”
The Heat celebrated the highlight-reel moment on Twitter on Wednesday much to the delight of Heat fans everywhere. Adebayo said two of his fingers went number after the block and he still talks trash to Tatum to this day.
“I haven’t forgotten about it [the block] because I low key still talk s*** to J.T. about it,” Adebayo said in April, via Heat Nation. “A lot of us in my draft class grew up together. Like grew up playing AAU together, growing up playing against each other so we all know each other. So we all talk s***.”