Despite making the NBA Finals twice and Eastern Conference Finals three times over the past four seasons, the Miami Heat continue to have doubters.
“I think it is closed for Philly,” one NBA front office source told CBS Sports. “So there should be that fear. And I’m not a Miami believer, either. So I think they’re cooked. But I don’t think they have that fear, because I’m not sure they’re honest about themselves.”
The Heat didn’t make huge moves this offseason, so it makes sense as to why some might believe that they aren’t among the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
After all, two of their top competitors — the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics — made major upgrades. Of course, the Bucks acquired superstar guard Damian Lillard from the Portland Trail Blazers, who had requested a trade to Miami in early July.
That was a major blow, but things got even worse when the Celtics traded for Jrue Holiday, who was dealt from Milwaukee to Portland in the trade surrounding Lillard. Before being sent to the Celtics, Holiday was linked to the Heat.
Some internal improvement is going to be needed if the Heat are to make some noise this season. Tyler Herro is as confident as ever and recently sent a fiery message to those who don’t think he’s a playoff-caliber player. Herro missed most of the 2023 playoffs after breaking his hand in Game 1 of the first round.
Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler are back as well and figure to be their usual selves and contribute heavily on both sides of the ball. Offseason additions like Josh Richardson and Thomas Bryant appear to be locks to have consistent roles for the team.
Rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr., who was involved in trade rumors regarding Lillard, looks to be ready for big minutes from the get-go. He had a solid preseason debut on Tuesday against the Charlotte Hornets, but got injured during practice on Wednesday.
For what it’s worth, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra is still really confident in his squad. Last season, the Heat had to fight their way into the playoffs by way of the play-in tournament, where they were dangerously close to being eliminated by the Chicago Bulls.
That series loss will undoubtedly motivate the organization throughout the entire 2023-24 season. Miami’s regular season is set to get underway on Wednesday, Oct. 25 at home against the Detroit Pistons.