Paul Pierce says Miami Heat won’t make it out of 1st round if they get Damian Lillard'
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Boston Celtics legend Paul Pierce doesn’t believe the Miami Heat will make it out of the first round of the playoffs in the 2023-24 season if they only add Damian Lillard.

A Portland Trail Blazers insider recently revealed that the team is looking for four first-round picks, one to two young players and salary filler in exchange for Lillard.

The Heat could move guard Tyler Herro as the main piece in a Lillard swap, but it’s possible Portland will want one of the team’s two most recent first-round picks – Jaime Jacquez Jr. or Nikola Jovic – in a deal for Lillard as well.

Another important note is that Miami lost Max Strus and Gabe Vincent this offseason. Vincent signed a three-year, $33 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, and Strus was moved to Cleveland in a sign-and-trade.

Miami did sign guard Josh Richardson to help mitigate the loss of the two rotation players, but it still leaves the team a little thin.

Lillard, a seven-time All-NBA selection, is still one of the best guards in the NBA.

Last season, he averaged a career-high in points per game (32.2) to go along with 7.3 assists while shooting 46.3 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from beyond the arc.

A trio of Lillard, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo would be one of the best in the NBA.

Pierce seems to be holding the fact that Miami was a play-in team last season over the franchise ahead of a Lillard deal, but it may not be a fair way to evaluate the team.

In the 2021-22 season with a very similar roster, the Heat earned the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and made the Eastern Conference Finals. In fact, the team has made the Eastern Conference Finals in three of the last four seasons and the NBA Finals twice over that four-season stretch.

Miami didn’t look like a typical No. 8 seed in the playoffs this past season, beating the No. 1-seeded Milwaukee Bucks, No. 5-seeded New York Knicks and No. 2-seeded Celtics on its way to the NBA Finals.

The Heat became just the second team in NBA history to make the NBA Finals as a No. 8 seed.

Acquiring Lillard could limit the team’s depth, but if Herro is the main piece used in the deal, it may not be as big of a loss as Pierce thinks. The former Sixth Man of the Year appeared in just one game in the playoffs in the 2022-23 season due to a hand injury.

If Lillard lands in Miami, the team certainly will look to prove Pierce wrong and earn a top seed in the East in the 2023-24 season.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.