NBA Playoffs 2021: Miami Heat vs Milwaukee Bucks. Jimmy Butler said that the Heat roster is ready for anything as they enter the NBA Playoffs and face the Bucks in the 1st Round.
The Heat spent 65% of the season mired in seventh place or lower in the Eastern Conference standings.
They spent two weeks spanning late January and early February in 13th place. It took until Game 37 — just past the midway point — to get over .500 for the first time. They couldn’t shoot. They couldn’t stay healthy. They couldn’t escape COVID-19.
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“This has been a really enjoyable season — and that includes all of the adversities and incredible challenges,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
The next challenge is here, and how Miami handles this one will determine if the season gets even more enjoyable or if it ends. The defending East champions wound up as the No. 6 seed and open the postseason on Saturday against the third-seeded Milwaukee Bucks, one of the teams they beat in last season’s playoffs on their way to the NBA Finals.
Milwaukee took the regular-season series 2-1, which likely serves as a confidence boost to the Bucks.
At the same time, it likely doesn’t seem daunting to the Heat considering that Jimmy Butler — who simply willed Miami’s run to The Finals last season — didn’t play in any of those three games. He’ll play Saturday, and the Heat chances largely rest on what he can do.
“We’re ready for anything,” Butler said. “You leave the past in the past. All the wins, all the losses, all the mishaps, all the great fortune … it’s a different time of the year right now. You’re supposed to be playing your best basketball, be healthy, and the first one to 16 wins. So, we’ve got to start with the first four.”
But an up-and-down year is looking up for Miami. The Heat won 11 out of 12 games in one midseason stretch and still sat at 28-28 with 16 games remaining. The Heat went 12-4 from there, for one simple reason.