Following a 129-121 victory against the Boston Celtics on May 11, the Miami Heat clinched their second consecutive playoff berth and are set to defend their Eastern Conference title.
The Heat had to overcome several struggles this season, including early COVID-19 issues that sidelined stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo for several games and injuries that sidelined multiple key players, such as Tyler Herro, Goran Dragic and Victor Oladipo. The team also had to deal with a scandal when Meyers Leonard said an anti-Semitic slur on a Twitch livestream.
The Heat made numerous mid-season acquisitions to provide a new momentum boost, including trading for forwards Nemanja Bjelica and Trevor Ariza, as well as Oladipo. While the latter’s struggles with injuries have sidelined him for this upcoming postseason, Bjelica and Ariza have provided new depth to the Heat roster that has proven to be very valuable.
Finishing with a 40-32 record, the Heat will face off against the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round. Last season, the Heat upset the heavily-favored Bucks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, thus setting the stage for what should be an electrifying rematch.
Should the Heat defeat the Bucks, they would likely face the Brooklyn Nets in this year’s semifinals. The Nets will play the winner of the Wizards-Celtics play-in game, and many expect them to make a deep postseason run regardless of their first round opponent. Despite currently sitting at the six-seed in the Eastern Conference, many Heat fans are excited for what may end up being another Cinderella story if things go right for Miami.