The 2021 season has been an up and down roller coaster for a lot of NBA franchises and the Miami Heat were no exception. Due to COVID-19 delaying the 2020 season, this NBA off-season was cut down to just 10 weeks, the shortest ever for the league.
In comparison, the length of a normal off-season is usually 20 weeks. Not only was that part cut in half, but the regular season was also condensed.
The lack of rest could have been a contributing factor as to why both of last year’s Finals teams had a tough year, with the Heat finishing sixth and the LA Lakers finishing seventh for a play-in berth. Although the Lakers started off strong, they were eventually hit by injuries.
Anthony Davis went out February 15th and ended up missing 36 games. In a huge turn of events, the seemingly invincible robot, LeBron James, missed 27.
The Heat were affected much earlier, with All Star guard Jimmy Butler contracting COVID-19, while also struggling with other minor injuries as the league rushed back into play. Because of these circumstances, Butler ended up missing most of the start of the season and the team played inconsistently without him to begin the season 7-14.
After the terrible start, the team went 33-18 the rest of the way and finished with a record of 40-32. Unfortunately, they ended up being one game back from being in a three way tie for fourth with the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks.
In that scenario, the Heat would’ve been the fifth seed, playing against the Hawks in the first round. It’s unfortunate that we were so close to a more favorable first round matchup and a much more favorable playoff bracket, where the Heat didn’t have to play all three of the top tier teams in the East.
First, we face the Milwaukee Bucks, then presumably the Brooklyn Nets, and finally, potentially the Philadelphia Sixers in the Eastern Conference Finals. The good news is that we avoided the play-in tournament and have played well to end the season.
Even though I’d rather be playing the Knicks or Hawks, I am excited for what should be a very entertaining matchup.