Let’s be real. We’re all grasping at straws here, racking our brains for any possible explanation why the Miami Heat, one of the worst offensive teams in basketball during the regular season (recall they needed a fourth-quarter comeback against Chicago just to survive the play-in round), are three games away from winning an NBA title. Whether it’s Heat “culture”, the phenomenon known as “Playoff” Jimmy, Erik Spoelstra channeling his inner Pat Riley, or some combination of all three, Miami refuses to go quietly, defying all logic in its continued success against the star-studded likes of Milwaukee, Boston, and now Denver.
Made up of spare parts discarded by other teams, the Frankenstein Heat simply won’t die, haunting the league like lost spirits. Known for his devoted Celtics fandom, Bill Simmons got the meme treatment during his memorable appearance at Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, ambushed by a relentless Heat team that, despite an obvious talent disparity, made Boston look ordinary.
Even with Butler having an off night and Caleb Martin, the hero of last series, reverting to his regular-season form as a solid but unremarkable rotation player prone to agonizing cold streaks, Miami still had more than enough Game 2 sorcery to even the series at 1-1, handing Denver its first home loss in 66 days. Getting by on little more than legerdemain and the psychotic determination of its best player, it’s become obvious, at least to Simmons, that the Heat have been blessed by the basketball gods, benefiting from supernatural forces beyond our earthly comprehension.
“I’ve never seen a run like this in basketball with a team that I didn’t feel like was as talented as the other teams they’re playing and, over and over again, can summon some sort of run, some sort of accuracy bender,” said Simmons on his podcast recapping Sunday night’s Game 2. “The only thing I can compare it to in recent sports history is Flacco, that Baltimore Ravens year when he just left his body for four playoff games, just like the best quarterback in the world. And you go back and look at the stats and you’re like, ‘How did this happen with Joe Flacco?’”
What’s remarkable is the Heat, one of just two eight-seeds in history to reach the NBA Finals, have done this without the help of their second-leading scorer Tyler Herro, who hasn’t played since breaking his hand almost two months ago. Still, the ever-resourceful Heat keep finding new ways to win, sidestepping every obstacle thrown in their path. It’s a testament to Miami’s will but also a clear-as-day sign—at least in Simmons’ mind—of divine intervention.
“Caleb Martin had, I think, three points tonight. So he’s cooled off. And his mojo just got transferred to Gabe Vincent, to Duncan Robinson for a quarter. Kyle Lowry made some crazy 26-footer,” said Simmons, trying to wrap his mind around Miami’s inexplicable playoff dominance after essentially punting the regular season. “How about the play when Bam [Adebayo] throws a terrible alley-oop in the last five minutes? Hits the backboard, just comes right back to them. At some point, you can’t stop what God wants to happen. And it just seems like God is like, ‘I like this Heat team. I’m just enjoying this.’”