It’s more clear than ever: The Miami Heat is definitely not going to tank the last few months of the season.
After losing six of seven heading into the weekend, the Heat bounced back to win three of its last four, including a thrilling win against the Golden State Warriors on a buzzer-beater by Dwyane Wade. The recent turnaround has Miami in an effective tie for the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference with 19 to play. The Heat (29-34) is fully in position for a playoff push.
On the latest episode of the Heat Check podcast, David Wilson and Anthony Chiang, the Miami Herald’s Heat beat writer, discuss why this makes sense even with an upcoming NBA Draft featuring superstar Duke Blue Devils power forward Zion Williamson. The simplest answer is two words long: Justise Winslow.
The point forward has proved during Miami’s recent turnaround that he’s a difference-maker for the Heat, and this playoff run is all about maximizing Winslow’s opportunities, but it’s not just about the 22-year-old. Combo guard Josh Richardson and post player Bam Adebayo are going to get their opportunities, too. They have all been in the playoffs before, but never as featured players. If Miami is going to give someone fits in the first round, it will be because of the kids.
Plus, there’s always a chance for another Wade moment. The All-Star guard’s game-winner against the Warriors on Wednesday has been the high point of the season so far. It would be an injustice not to watch the future Hall of Famer get one last crack at single-handedly winning a playoff game at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Wilson and Chiang wrap up the episode by taking some listener questions. What is the ceiling for this Heat team in the playoffs? Who has higher upside: Winslow or Adebayo? Could Miami figure out a way to move on from center Hassan Whiteside this offseason?