My Least Favorite Miami Heat Team of All-Time Is Now A Favorite of Mine
My hands were red from clapping a little too hard at a Dwyane Wade layup in transition on Saturday.
“AND F**KING ONEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!,” I screamed while my voice was as hoarse as hands were stinging.
Miami blew a lead and was fighting tooth, nail, and soul for it back. On the shoulders of the most important athlete of my life, the Heat looked like they had nothing left, and yet here they were, back in it. A one-possession game.
Then, a missed free throw on a night where the Heat shot 52 percent — a mark lower than Shaq’s 19-year career at the line.
The series against the Philadelphia 76ers slipped away in a way that made me feel the sports helplessness that makes it hard to breathe. But at the same time, I missed feeling this alive. Living and dying with every miss, basket, turnover, and blown coverage. I was back. This is why I love sports.
To see the triumphs and failures of the spectacular in a way that matters to people and the community. To see Wade and Goran Dragic lift a team of head cases, youth, and reclamation projects. To hope, why not us?
I’m surprised I ended up here. I hated this team halfway into the year. They struggled with offense. The defense, while good, became incredibly porous at the worst possible times. Late in a game while playing for sole possession of the three seed, James Johnson was ISO-ing the Cleveland Cavaliers. It ended about the same way you would expect, and I was pissed off.
This season was largely a drag. Too many losses against the Kings and Knicks to make me actually care. The idea of knowing that you are in the long haul with Tyler Johnson, Dion Waiters, James Johnson, and Kelly Olynyk.
This was my least favorite Heat team ever.
This is legit my least fav Heat team ever and we are stuck with all of them. Gonna be a rough few years
— Giancarlo Navas (@gnavas103) February 24, 2018
So Saturday afternoon came as a surprise. As Miami scrapped, fought, and clawed against a clearly superior team, I thought to myself, “I love this group.” I can’t believe I am here.
The Sixers are younger, more talented, and have been coached to a push against a future Hall of Famer. Philadelphia turned the ball over 26 times and shot 23 percent from three. And they were never out of the game.
The Heat are clearly overmatched and disadvantaged. There is nothing to indicate that they should play competitive contests against a team that is better than them at everything, but yet here we are.
The Heat have rather significant talent, shooting, and size disadvantages. Yet they play tough and put themselves in position to claw out a win. The odds are against them, but we should appreciate how close they keep these games, especially in contrast to other series.
— Positive Residual (@presidual) April 21, 2018
This team embodies the mythology of Heat Culture that the organization and fanbase propagates. We will play harder for longer and not quit even if we freaking bleed.
— Kevin Escalera (@KevinEscalera) April 21, 2018
That is the Heat way, and I have fallen victim to this romanticization of a clearly mediocre team. Being led late by a 36-year old shooting who doesn’t have a meniscus in one of his knees.
How the hell are they scrapping with the best young team in the sport — perhaps even the best young team in all of American sports. It doesn’t make sense, and this is why sports are incredible. We oftentimes search for tangible conclusions. There is something comforting in knowing why.
This team breaks convention. We have no idea how they are doing it. Physicality, I guess? Even then, Miami is the one who has gotten two players hurt.
Experience? The Sixers appears to be the ones composed down the stretch of close games.
Talent? Miami would trade it’s whole team for Simmons or Embiid. How is this close yet at the same time insurmountably far?
It’s theatre of the highest order. It’s drama in a way that makes us feel alive. It’s pain in a way that reminds us that we can still hurt this way. It’s hope that they don’t deliver, but damn it do they f**king try to.
I love this team now. I don’t fully understand why, but the best part is almost not even knowing. Game 5 is Tuesday, and we have some boats to burn.