The Miami Heat might be the Rodney Dangerfield of the NBA this season. They just don’t seem to be getting enough respect. They are consistently being picked by the so-called experts to finish fourth behind the Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers.
Jimmy Butler isn’t going to run and hide just because the national media doesn’t believe in what he and his teammates are building. Kyle Lowry’s arrival in South Beach should have jumped them to the front of the Eastern Conference pecking order, or at least in the conversation to make a deep playoff run.
The Heat looked scary good in their preseason opener, gassing out the Atlanta Hawks 125-99 behind 26 points from Tyler Herro. Butler didn’t even suit up for that one so pardon him for being optimistic. Why does he think they can earn the No. 1 seed? Well, easy: Butler isn’t scared of anyone.
“One, because I believe in myself. I know the caliber of player that I am,” Butler told Jeremy Tache. “I believe in these guys that Coach Pat [Riley] and Coach Spo [Spoelstra] has put together as a unit and I know how we can compete. I know how we just know how to win, and then more than anything we’re not running from anybody.
“We never will. We never have and there’s no way around it. You gotta go through each and every one of these teams. The Bucks being one, the Nets being one, Philly being one, all the way down the line. We know that and we’re ready to compete.”
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Erik Spoelstra Named Best Head Coach
Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra was named the top coach in a recent survey of league general managers conducted by NBA.com. He received an impressive 55% of the votes, with Monty Williams of the Phoenix Suns coming in second with 17%. The ever-humble Spoelstra gave a predictable answer when asked about it.
“Look, when you’re a coach, you just can’t listen to anything,” Spoelstra told reporters. “More days than not, we have no idea what the hell we’re talking about and we’re getting criticized like crazy, and that’s part of this position.
“You know, I take my job here with this organization very seriously, I have a responsibility for the organization and I just try to do the best job I can. But you get that and you just know there will be 10-x the other way, soon enough. When you’re in this position and this chair, you realize that pretty quickly.”
Some other interesting nuggets from the 2021-22 NBA survey: Miami had the best offseason moves (47% to 17% for the Los Angeles Lakers), and the Heat were picked to finish third in the Eastern Conference (behind Milwaukee and Brooklyn).
Heat Expand Role for Favorite Broadcaster
The Heat recently announced that Ruth Riley Hunter will expand her current broadcast role and serve as Broadcast Analyst & Basketball Analytics/Player Programs Manager.
Riley Hunter is an Olympic gold medalist, two-time WNBA champion, WNBA Finals MVP, NCAA champion, and 2019 Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inductee. She will add basketball analytics and other basketball operations-related duties to her current broadcast role. The talented sportscaster will begin her fourth season serving as Heat radio analyst on all home games as well as a television studio analyst for all home and road games.