The Miami Heat have improved their roster in major ways this offseason, primarily thanks to the additions of star Jimmy Butler and standout rookie Tyler Herro.
Thanks to those additions, FiveThirtyEight.com updated its NBA prediction model to give the Heat an 86 percent chance of advancing to the 2020 postseason.
While the Eastern Conference is less competitive across the board compared to the Western Conference, competition at the top is expected to be quite fierce.
“The Eastern Conference will be less of a bloodbath than the West, though the battle at the top should still be fierce,” wrote Neil Paine of FiveThirtyEight. “Similar to the Rockets out West, the new-look 76ers are CARMELO’s pick for the No. 1 seed by a decent margin over the Giannis-led Bucks. Behind them, the Celtics, Heat and defending champion Raptors form the next bloc of teams, and all have at least an 86 percent chance of making the playoffs despite plenty of offseason roster shakeups. The Magic and Pacers round out the group of solid playoff picks in the conference. Orlando is building off of last season’s surprise playoff berth, while Indiana is hoping to bounce back after losing Victor Oladipo to injury for most of 2018-19. And the Nets, Bulls and Pistons each have about a coin flip’s shot at some of the last few playoff spots — which might be a shock given Brooklyn’s multiple high-profile offseason moves.”
Following last season’s disappointing end, which saw the Heat missed the playoffs by just two games, being a near lock to advance this season is rather exciting.
If the Heat succeed in trying to surround Butler with even more talent either before or during the 2019-20 regular season, that percentage may very well go up.
Until then, it will be up to Butler and the Heat’s talented young core and stable of savvy veterans to make good on the prediction and make some noise on the court.