This season the Miami Heat have been on a topsy-turvy roller-coaster ride, to say the least.
We’ve seen Miami deal with a number of different situations that most organizations haven’t had to go through. Some of these situations they’ve had to deal with were a potential season-ending injury to Chris Bosh. We’ve seen Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic in the middle of trade rumors all year. We’ve also seen Pat Riley make moves that upset the overall fanbase such as trading Mario Chalmers and Chris Anderson to the Memphis Grizzlies. But guess what? In spite of all of the turmoil and the drama that this team has dealt with, Miami still looks like one of the teams who’s ready to compete for the Eastern Conference Championship.
Right now the Heat sit near the top of the Eastern Conference as they are in fourth place overall. However, because of the fact that Miami recently signed Joe Johnson from the Brooklyn Nets, it’s now expected that this team compete in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Could the Miami Heat really make it to the Eastern Conference Finals without Chris Bosh?
Turn Up the Heat
That’s the record the Miami Heat have posted since the All-Star break.
Since the annual midseason classic, the Heat have been playing on fire capturing wins against strong teams they could potentially see in the playoffs such as the Indiana Pacers, Atlanta Hawks and Chicago Bulls. What makes it more impressive is that they’ve done it all without their leading scorer, Chris Bosh.
“It’s great everyone is getting an opportunity to be themselves at the same time. Especially adding a player like Joe [Johnson], guys coming out of the All-Star break having to play without Chris [Bosh], having to play without me for those first two games really built that confidence in everyone. It’s all coming together.”
– Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade
One of their blemishes since the All-Star break that Miami got in the losing column came at the hands of the Golden State Warriors. Miami led most of the game and they pushed Golden State to their limit as they narrowly escaped Miami with a five point 115-110 win. Just think about it like this, Miami was one Stephen Curry missed three-pointer away from giving Golden State their sixth loss of the season. The other was a tough road loss to another playoff bound team in the Boston Celtics.
Missing a three-time champion and a 11-time NBA All-star from the starting lineup would hurt most NBA franchises but Miami was never built around a singular player. One of the big beliefs that Pat Riley has is that a team is and has to have 12 players that all van contribute and play in a given situation. So when Miami missed Dwyane Wade from the beginning of the All-Star break they never missed a beat.
Wade who’s known as a half court player had to adjust his game into a more faster tempo since coming back from his left knee strain. During the entire process point guard Goran Dragic has been playing out of his mind.
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) March 5, 2016
The Heat have started to use Dragic’s skill set to their advantage and have been running more and more in transition. The advantage is that with Dragic getting in the open court it gives a veteran team like Miami more points easier.
Additionally, we have to speak about the impact that Joe Johnson is having in a Heat uniform. Johnson made it clear with his buyout that he wanted out of Brooklyn. Since he’s been with the Heat he’s finally been given a golden opportunity to make a lot of noise in the playoffs while being one of the vital pieces of a championship team. Since joining the Heat, Johnson is averaging 14 points per game which is a huge help to a team that struggles to find points.
Miami might not be ready to win the entire Eastern Conference today but the way their playing any team in the East should start to fear them including the Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers.
D’Joumbarey A. Moreau covers sports in Miami-Dade & Broward County. You can follow him on Twitter @DJoumbarey