Going into the season, all the talk about who was going to compete with the Bucks for the Eastern Conference title was between two teams. The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers. Nobody was talking about the Miami Heat and for good reason considering they finished 10th in the Eastern Conference last year with a 39-43 record. However, they acquired Jimmy Butler the first day of free agency, made smart trades, drafted well, and now the Heat are currently in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference. As of December 11th, they have an 18-6 record and only trail the Bucks and Celtics in the standings.
The Heat are led by a starting lineup consisting of Meyers Leonard, Bam Adebayo, Duncan Robinson, Jimmy Butler, and Kendrick Nunn. Leonard is having one of the best shooting seasons of his career, Bam is playing at an All-Star level, Robinson is an elite sharpshooter, Jimmy Butler is his typical superstar self, and Nunn is on a path to win the Rookie of the Year award. Miami’s bench is filled with players that could be starters including Kelly Olynyk, former All-Star Goran Dragic, Justice Winslow, and Cream City Central’s favorite rookie, Tyler Herro. With this lineup, the Heat actually challenge the Bucks as the deepest team in the East.
As a team on offense, the Heat are 4th in the league in field goal percentage and 2nd in three point percentage. They also get to the line with ease which is shown by them being 3rd in the league in free throw attempts per game. Finally, the Heat are 9th in offensive rating per 100 possessions. On the defensive side of the ball, Miami is 6th in opponent field goal percentage. They are also 7th in steals per game and 9th in defensive rating. These stats, in a nutshell, all mean that the Heat are good in every aspect on offense and defense.
When it comes to facing the Bucks, the Heat could give them matchup nightmares. It takes a special kind of player to be able to guard Giannis (or try to guard him). The Heat have two of those players in Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Butler has been one of the best defenders in the NBA since he was a rookie and this season is no different; he could meet Giannis at the perimeter and make it difficult for him to get to the rim. Adebayo, on the other hand, is one of the most versatile defensive big men in the league and if anyone could stop Antetokounmpo, it would be him. The other players on the Heat are capable defenders who could match their opponents. Offensively, the Heat could match up well considering they slow the game down and play at their own pace. They have shooters and everybody who handles the ball can pass. Think about the San Antonio Spurs’ offense from 2014 and that’s the 2019-20 Miami Heat
Even though I think highly of the Heat, they don’t scare me. In fact, no team in the East scares me when it comes to Milwaukee’s chances at making the NBA Finals. It’s the Bucks conference to lose but with how well they have played to begin the season, nobody is going to beat them.