Miami Heat Season Review
No, they didn’t make the playoffs. However, the Miami Heat didn’t make the playoffs in a way that would surprise anyone that didn’t follow the team through the “expect the unexpected” season they had.
In a radio interview in December, Miami Heat President, Pat Riley said, “We’re dealing with that word that you hate to use – that we have to rebuild. But we will rebuild quick. I’m not going to hang around here for three or four years selling this kind of song to people in Miami” (Miami Herald). For Pat Riley, it wasn’t so much a #TrustTheProcess statement. It was a “let’s-rebuild-as-well-and-fast-as-we-can-to-get-this-team-back-to-competing-for-a-championship” statement. This type of talk typical of Riley, as he has been known to make things happen and work miracles. However, I don’t even think he anticipated what this season was to become.
No Wade, No Bosh: First Season Without any Members of the “Big-3”
After Dwyane Wade decided to walk last summer and the news of no timetable for Chris Bosh’s return, not much was expected of this team by onlookers. Even with the large contract signings of Hassan Whiteside and Tyler Johnson, it didn’t seem like the Heat had enough to save a season. After the first half of the season, the Heat sat near the bottom of the Eastern Conference with a record of 11-30. At this point, a lot of fans just hoped a good lottery pick could come out of this year. Then, the real post-“Big 3” era rebuild could begin.
However, this team had something different in mind.
Second Half Comeback
The Heat went on a 13-game winning streak beginning January 17th against the Houston Rockets, and ending February 10th against off all teams, the Brooklyn Nets. During that winning streak, they were able to hand the Golden State Warriors one of their 15 losses of the season, as Dion Waiters (also known as “Waiters Island”) hit a three right in Klay Thompson‘s face to give Miami the win.
The Heat would go on to finish the second half of the season 30-11. That’s on pace for 60 wins — putting them first in the Eastern Conference hypothetically speaking. Obviously, that’s not how things played out. However, the type of turnaround this team had was so far from what anyone expected back in December. That’s what makes the story so great.
They were the first team to ever have a .500 record coming back from 19 games under. After being knocked out of the playoffs with a Bulls and Pacers win on the last night of the season, head coach Erik Spoelstra talked about how much he believed this team deserved to be in. With that being said, I think a lot of people can agree that this team would have been an exciting one to watch in the playoffs.
Future of the Team
The Heat team that played in the first half of the season needed a lot of help. It appeared as if the team in the second half of the season could finish in the top half of the Eastern Conference. So where do the Heat go from here?
Pat Riley held his end-of-season press conference last week, and he wants to keep the core of this team together. Justise Winslow sat most of the season, after having shoulder surgery. As a young player with potential, Riley sees him as a building block for the team’s future. After their contract signings last summer, Whiteside and Johnson will also be staying around for a while. Dion Waiters and James Johnson have also expressed interest in staying with the Heat, and it sounds like Pat Riley is on board with that. What Riley doesn’t see, however, is the Heat picking up a “big name player” through free agency. He discussed that acquiring a player of this type is more likely through trade.
Many mock drafts project the Heat to acquire the 14th pick in the NBA draft. At this spot, they could potentially pick up a power forward like TJ Leaf (UCLA) or John Collins (Wake Forest) to pair up with Whiteside. This would give the Heat a great front-court duo.
If injury doesn’t cast a spell on this team next year, the potential exists for the Miami Heat to do something really spectacular. They could put up a fight against any team in the playoffs, even without a true “superstar” like Lebron James or Stephen Curry.
Heat fans, I’m happy to tell you that the future of this team looks promising.
Pat Riley’s end-of-season press conference:
Did you miss Pat Riley’s end of season press conference today? Here it is… go back and check it out! https://t.co/JUOBnTZ90q
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) April 19, 2017
December Radio Interview: http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/heat-check/article122177399.html