The Heat are preparing to take on the Milwaukee Bucks during the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, and during practice on Wednesday, Miami’s head coach Erik Spoelstra gave a major update on the health status of team leader Jimmy Butler.
Days after suffering an eye contusion, Butler, 31, sat out during the Heat’s final two games of the regular season due to back pain, an unsettling development since the five-time All-Star is such a key part of the team’s success. Without Butler, it’s hard to imagine Miami having a fighting chance of getting past Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks.
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However, Heat fans can breathe a sigh of relief. Sun Sentinel‘s Ira Winderman reported on May 19, “Everybody was able to work today and we haven’t had a day like that in a while.”
Save for Victor Oladipo, who underwent season-ending surgery on his quadriceps tendon last week, Miami’s roster is finally ready to go full speed ahead on the court, and off the court, things are starting to return to normal, too. Unlike last year’s playoffs, the Heat will not only be able to play games at the AmericanAirlines Arena at home in Miami, but fans will also be in attendance.
Heat All-Star Bam Adebayo is excited about the shift. “We made the playoffs my rookie year [2017-18] when it was normal, and that’s the playoff atmosphere that everybody wants to be in,” Adebayo said. “So it’s going to be exciting to be back in that playoff atmosphere.”
“Last year was different,” Adebayo continued. “I mean you can’t even put last year in a regular conversation. Being in a bubble was different. But it feels like it’s getting back to normal. So it’s going to feel different.”
The Heat vs. Bucks Series Is Predicted to Go a Full 7 Games
While it’s exciting that the Heat secured a No. 6 seed in the playoffs, successfully avoiding the dreaded stress of the play-in tournament, playing a full seven-game series against a division rival will not be a cakewalk.
Former Heat legend Chris Bosh said during his Get Up interview on May 18 to expect a fiercely competitive series between the Heat and the Bucks. “Look for every game to come down to the last possession.”
“I will say look for this series to go seven games,” Bosh said. “It’s going to be extremely competitive. The heat definitely have a lot of confidence coming into this series, especially with the success they’ve had against the Bucks last year, and this year, too.”
Coach Spo said on Wednesday that his team is ready for the challenge. “We feel that we’ve been playing at a high level of intensity and emotion the last several weeks, but that still isn’t the level of what you can expect from the playoffs. And I think we have enough veteran guys to understand that.”