Appreciating The Innate Beauty of Playoff Heat Basketball

Commentary6 years ago7 min readAlex Toledo

The Triple-A around playoff time is like that awesome person you have a crush on, you know, the one you have admired from afar. The one you knew would bring you ultimate happiness.

Last Sunday.

OHHH! LAST SUNDAY!

So, I attended my first ever Playoff game. It was a marvelous experience for me as I have been an enormously engaged and die-hard Miami Heat fan for the majority of my life.

I’ve been watching Playoff games for years, wondering what it would be like to be a part of that experience. After Sunday’s spectacle, I can safely say that being immersed into the experience in person, finally, was everything I’d ever hoped. Especially as a guy who has never been lowkey about his childlike enthusiasm, giddiness, and somewhat naiveté towards the Heat and AmericanAirlines Arena – the location of some of the happiest days of my life. The AAA was incredible to look at on Sunday, and it was so much more aesthetically pleasing than I’d ever seen it before, dressed in its gorgeous, white, springtime sundress.

The #WhiteHot storm begins tomorrow. #LetsGetIt!

A photo posted by Miami HEAT (@miamiheat) on

Yes, I did just double down on a metaphor that compares a crush on a girl to an arena where basketball is played.

The Miami Heat, in their return to playoff basketball after sitting out last season’s postseason, almost could not have possibly played any better than they did. The Heat have been running their #WhiteHot playoff campaign, where they described it as a “storm” at one point and calling it a storm might just be underselling what the Heat were against the Charlotte Hornets, who might have been fighting the South Beach fever.

The Miami Heat beat the Charlotte Hornets with a final score of 123-91 in Game 1. And yes, the game was every bit as ridiculous as the final score suggests. They maximized their strengths and minimized their weaknesses.

The Heat got out to an early lead in the first quarter, and after the score was 13-11, the Heat went on a run and never looked back.

We got peak Luol DengDong, who made 11 of 13 shots for a total of 31 points scored, his highest in a playoff game since he aided in the unspoken demoralization of the defending-champion Heat in 2007. Deng destroyed them and their fans with 33 points, causing Heat PA Announcer Michael Baiamonte to mumble the name “Luol Deng” for what felt like forever.

This wasn’t just a storm or a beating, It was the Miami Heat, as a collective group, having a metaphorical team outing at an even more badly-maintained Taco Bell than that one you’re familiar with and eating five hot-sauce-filled dog-meat burritos. Then, they went for a Round 2 at their local, probably Rick-Ross-owned Wing Stop, eating 20 “Atomic”-flavored wings each. Finally, they drink everything down by taking in multiple cans of hyper-actively bad-for-you Monster energy drinks. The team outing resulted in the climaxing that was a full-on s**t/feces storm by the Miami Heat all over the team whose owner is that guy from the meme.

The soon-to-be-named Ha$$an White$ide, in his Playoff debut, scored 21 points, grabbed 11 boards, and blocked three shots. The team was smoldering hot in its shooting, including 57.6% from the field and 50.0% from three. They moved the ball rather nicely, finishing with 27 total assists. They out-rebounded the Hornets 42-28. And, perhaps, the most impressive statistic of all was the Heat protecting the ball to the tune of just six turnovers TOTAL. They were practically flawless.

How great was it watching Justise Winslow execute poetic justice on everybody? How great was it when he was maneuvering his way around the guy who Michael Jordan took ahead of him in last year’s NBA Draft, Frank Kaminsky with a rather viscous euro-step. Then ending it in a celebratory point to Dwyane Wade, the longtime master of the euro-step.

I mean, they just threw out all of their possible weapons at you. Including #HEATLifer, Dorell Wright, who, while trying to draw a foul, hit a leaning mid-range jumper (very Wade-esque, I might add) and then two back-to-back threes to remind us all how much we still love him, even if he does look slightly out of NBA shape.


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In this one-game sample size, the Heat boasted a 62.9 Effective Field Goal Percentage, a well as a 65.3 True Shooting Percentage. They had a 142.6 Offensive Rating as well as a 106.7 Defensive Rating, resulting in a total Net Rating of 35.9, which is the amount of points the Heat outscored the Hornets by per 100 possessions. That is a ridiculous number.

To give some context to show just how ridiculous a 35.9 Net Rating is, the historically great 2015-2016 73-9 Golden State Warriors finished the season with a Net Rating of 11.6. The Heat were unreal and insanely productive and were in the company of the four elite Western Conference teams this weekend, (Warriors, Spurs, Thunder, Clippers), in being the only teams to start off the Playoffs with a commanding blowout win.

Also, just throwing it out there, the dynamite Briante Weber and Dorell Wright 2-man lineups tied for the highest Net Rating of any of the 47 2-man lineups for the Heat from Game 1, where they outscored the Hornets by 116.7 points per 100 possessions every time the dynamic duo shared the floor together. These dudes are legends already, clearly.

Besides the Heat coming out, wrecking the Crying Hornets, and injecting more confidence into the team and its fans from this point on. Watching the crowd develop an identity throughout the game was perhaps the best part. The seats were packed from tipoff, which is objectively an accomplishment for Heat fans. Everyone was fully engaged from start to finish, louder than I’d ever heard a Heat crowd, (besides maybe last year’s Heat-Cavs Christmas game). The atmosphere and energy in the arena was wildly lively as well as wildly contagious.

Game 1. #WhiteHot

A video posted by Alex Toledo (@alex_toledo22) on

The game and the experience was worth every penny. The Miami Heat will most likely NOT play this well for the rest of this series and the rest of these playoffs. You can’t ask them to.

Spring is here, and, of course, so is Heat Playoff basketball, as it has been for 17 of the 21 seasons since Pat Riley took over in 1995, and it started off so much stronger than most could have seen coming. The Heat are here. And, more importantly, so is Pitbull. THE PLAYOFFS HAVE COMMENCED.