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Miami Heat Suspension Ignites Flame

The Miami Heat were on the struggle bus for much of the season, hovering around the play-in tournament. Yet with a surge around the All-Star break and after a fiery altercation against the Pelicans, the Heat are heating up.

Before we look at what the Heat are doing now, we can’t disregard the past. There are several reasons the Miami Heat had a slow start to the season.

The Heat have been to the NBA Finals or the Conference Finals three of the last four years. They have 66 playoff games in the last 4 years alone. And with the majority of the same core intact from their 2020 Finals appearance (Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson), their playoff games are essentially a fifth full season into four. That’s a lot on the human body.

When you play that many games, your body tends to break down. Kyle Lowry, who was traded to Charlotte for Terry Rozier, was a key piece of that playoff run coming to the team in 2021. Now age 37, Kyle Lowry added more mileage on the tires than most point guards around the league. That’s why the team needed to get younger at the point guard position. Factor in your team’s best player Jimmy Butler is the second-oldest on the squad at age 34, yet he still averages over 33 minutes a game (2nd on the team behind Bam Adebayo).

Since your star players have played more minutes than most of the Association, they’re more prone to injury and it’s necessary to force them to rest throughout the regular season. But the team is hovering around the play-in, so they require more minutes on certain nights with closer games.

One month ago, on January 29th, the Heat suffered a 118-105 home loss to the Phoenix Suns to drop to 24-23 on the season. The game wasn’t close. It was garbage time entering the 4th quarter with a 26-point deficit. This was a 7-game losing streak, the longest in franchise history since the 2007-2008 season. To put it in perspective, this was Pat Riley’s final season as a head coach and the team had an abysmal 15-67 record.

A team that prides itself on a “Heat Culture” of winning, dedication, and a hard work ethic, this 7-game skid was enough. Something had to change.


Enter the side character into the Heat’s story: the Sacramento Kings. They have played a pivotal role in the last month for Miami. In their first of two meetings this year, the Heat ended that losing streak hosting the Kings in a 115-106 victory. Behind Butler’s 31-point, 7-rebound, and 6-assist performance, the team’s ace willed his team across the finish line. And after that statement by Butler, the team was on the right track.

The Heat would go on to win 6 of their next 8 before meeting the New Orleans Pelicans on February 23rd. The Heat came away with a 106-95 road victory, but not without a cost. An altercation mid-game resulted in the NBA getting involved, handing out suspensions to Jimmy Butler (1 game), Nikola Jovic (1 game), and Thomas Bryant (3 games).

As funny as it may sound, this suspension might have been the fire the Heat needed lit underneath them to show up the following game against, you guessed it, the Sacramento Kings.

With no depth inside the paint, the team’s best player reprimanded, and both Tyler Herro and Terry Rozier out with injury, the Heat went on the road to blow the Kings’ flame out, 121-110. The key contributors emerging from this game assure me Miami is a legitimate threat come the postseason.

Rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr. was on a mission with 26 points and 4 steals. Bam Adebayo nearly had a triple-double (28 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists) as the team’s #1 option. Throw in the 3-point contributions from Caleb Martin and Haywood Highsmith while the team’s oldest player, Kevin Love (35), turned back the clock with 19 points and 7 rebounds in 15 minutes off the bench.

This Heat squad isn’t just an aging Jimmy Butler. It’s a full unit bought into the end goal: bring the city its fourth Larry O’Brien trophy.


After being a borderline play-in team, the Heat now sit in the 5th seed as of this writing, winning 9 of their last 11 games, and 5 of those games in a row.

Miami found success as a play-in team last year, being the first play-in team to make the NBA Finals. If they must take that path in April, so be it. Erik Spoelstra will have his team ready. But do not sleep on this Heat squad, because they’re as hungry as ever and everyone is operating under one mindset.

Looking back in a few months, the Heat’s two setbacks might be their biggest launches forward. We will see as the season goes down the stretch.

What do you think of this Miami Heat squad? Can they appear in their third Finals in five seasons? Is this the year they finally get over the hump? Let us know in the comments below.


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