Miami Heat: There’s reason to be cautiously optimistic about playoffs

Jimmy Butler #22, Kendrick Nunn #25, and Duncan Robinson #55 of the Miami Heat in action against the Philadelphia 76ers.(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Jimmy Butler #22, Kendrick Nunn #25, and Duncan Robinson #55 of the Miami Heat in action against the Philadelphia 76ers.(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The Miami Heat are going to the playoffs, but fans need to be cautiously optimistic about this team’s chances in the postseason, as is constructed.

At 41-24 the Miami Heat are the Eastern Conference’s fourth seed. No matter how the NBA season resumes (and some details have already been released), their playoff berth is safe.

What isn’t safe, are their chances in the postseason. There’s a lot to like about this Heat team as is constructed, but it’s hard to ignore the very-apparent flaws.

Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo will keep this team competitive, and win some games on their own. But the rest is up to the supporting cast, in which there should be a bit of concern about.

Primarily in the young core, who shoulder a lot of responsibility for this Miami team. Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro, and Kendrick Nunn are all headed for their first playoff appearance.

Of the three, two are members of the starting five: Robinson and Nunn. While both have impressed this season, it’s safe to expect some sort of fall-off in the postseason. A lot of first-time players get overwhelmed by the pressure and intensity that is the playoff environment.

Those three account for 34.4 field goal attempts per game–nearly half of the team’s total.

Robinson was one of the league’s best 3-point threats, if not the best, this year behind 13.3 points per game on a 44.8 percent shooting clip. Nunn is a Rookie of the Year candidate after going undrafted last summer. He posted 15.6 points and 3.8 assists per game as a full-time starter thus far this season in Miami.

Within the second unit, Herro has also been one of the more impressive rookies this year. After being selected 13th overall, he’s proven a true top-5 selection, from a pure player’s worth standpoint, from the 2019 class. Herro has put up 12.9 points and four rebounds as one of the bench’s top contributors.

But how much of this is truly sustainable throughout a seven-game series against the NBA’s best?

Not only might the Miami Heat’s literal youth be a problem, but their players with youth in the Miami Heat system might be as well. This is what we mean.

Elsewhere, the Heat’s big splash trade at the February deadline was for Andre Iguodala. Once a Finals MVP back in 2015, the 36-year old is only perhaps a shell of what he once was.

When you count in his having spent the last year off of as a part of a holdout with the Memphis Grizzlies, it’s hard to have much faith in his contributions come a playoff series. His IQ and experience can only contribute so much while his body continues its decline.

Iguodala averaged 4.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.2 assists for Miami this season. He may prove the biggest benefactor from the league’s hiatus, but it’s still hard to consider him an x-factor.

The other two pieces to that trade, Solomon Hill and Jae Crowder, are relative non-factors as well. Crowder, despite having an extensive background in the playoffs, put up some of the worst shooting numbers of his career this year: 38/31/78 shooting split.

Hill was almost an absolute non-factor for Miami in his six appearances. There’s room to wonder if head coach Erik Spoelstra would gift him more playing time in the playoffs as a seven-year veteran. But it’s hard to look at him as a difference-maker in any series out East.

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There are questions about the Miami Heat. They’re a good basketball team, no doubt. Jimmy Butler is a top-15 player in the NBA and Bam Adebayo is as versatile a big man as they come.

But how far can they get behind their supporting cast? Only time will tell.