National NBA analyst warns East rivals about the Miami Heat

The Miami Heat don't need a top seed to make a deep run through the playoffs.
Miami Heat v Milwaukee Bucks
Miami Heat v Milwaukee Bucks / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

It’s a common refrain: No one wants to face the Miami Heat in the playoffs.

But, if we’re being honest, it’s also a bit of a cliché that national analysts on debate shows can fall back on when they have nothing else to say about the Heat. Rarely do these national analysts elaborate on why no one wants to see the Heat in a seven-game series.

So, to hear Tim Legler on the “All NBA” podcast say that Miami’s overall record doesn’t matter as long as they are peaking at the right time – and then expand on that – is refreshing.

With the Heat having won eight of their last 10 games, Legler, a regular on ESPN, warned teams higher in the East standings not to overlook the reigning conference champs.

Tim Legler explained why a lot of people could pick the Miami Heat over some of the top teams in the East in a playoff series.

“They are the one team in the Eastern Conference that regardless of record, regardless of how it’s gone to this point, if they show you a stretch of basketball post-All-Star break, and they’re getting it together and they’re executing and they’re winning games, it doesn’t matter what their record is at that point,” Legler said. “If they’re playing right and at the right time of the year, look out.”

The Heat have won five straight games and now rank fifth in the East standings, tied in record with the Philadelphia 76ers and behind the New York Knicks, Milwaukee Bucks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics.

The Celtics are considered the favorites to win the East and, by many, the championship. Talk shows have spent a lot of time discussing the merits of the Bucks and Knicks, while the Cavaliers have had one of the league’s best records since the turn of the calendar. Legler cares less about the difference in overall record and more about how the Heat are playing in that stretch going into the playoffs.

“You look at teams like Cleveland, the Bucks, the Knicks, some of these other teams that have been trying to grab onto that second spot, like who is going to challenge the Celtics,” Legler continued, “then we get the Heat playing like this at this time of year, and you want to put any of those teams I just mentioned in a best of seven against the Miami Heat, I’m telling you right now there’s a lot of people that, if the Heat are fully healthy, are going to pick Miami to beat any of those teams in a best of seven series if it started today. 

“And that’s what the Heat can do to you when they put together a stretch like this because of their track record and how well they’re coached.”

Few need reminding of how the No. 8 seed Heat beat the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of last year’s playoffs, then knocked off the Knicks and Celtics before losing to the Denver Nuggets in the Finals. The Heat became the first No. 8 seed in a full-length NBA season to go to the Finals.

The Heat hopefully shouldn’t have to put together a similar run this season. Avoiding the unpredictable play-in tournament is still a priority. But beyond that, Erik Spoelstra and his team know they don’t need a higher seed to advance in the playoffs.

It’s not that the Heat don’t care about the regular season. It’s that they prioritize development, building good habits, and rounding into form in time to make a deep run.