Miami Heat Make History Again in Run to NBA Finals
Megan Briggs/Getty Images. Pictured: Jimmy Butler #22 and Bam Adebayo #13 of the Miami Heat.
They did it again.
In 2020, the Miami Heat pulled off what seemed like the most improbable run to the NBA Finals in recent memory. Nearly three years later, the Heat have defied the odds again as the second No. 8 seed to make the Finals, and first since the New York Knicks in 1999 during the infamous lockout season.
The Heat's path to the Finals this postseason, much like their run in the Bubble, left two Eastern Conference powerhouses in their wake. In 2020, the Heat stunned the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round and outlasted the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals.
This season, they toppled the Bucks in five games in Round 1, and once again outlasted the Celtics in the Conference finals after a furious comeback from the C's, who nearly overcame an 0-3 deficit. What made the Heat's run even more impressive, and difficult, is the fact that they lost their opening play-in game against the Atlanta Hawks at home, forcing a winner-take-all game with the Chicago Bulls.
At nearly every turn during the playoffs, the Heat have been long shots to win the East. Entering the first round, the Heat were +6600 to win the East at BetMGM. Only the 2020 team comes close to being as big of a long shot entering the first round (+1450) since 2010, according to Sports Odds History. They were +1000 to win the East heading into Round 2.
As you might expect, the Heat weren't favored at the start of any of their three series wins. In the first-round series against the Bucks, the Heat opened as +650 underdogs. Against the Knicks, they were much closer at +120. Against the Celtics, after two rounds of proving bettors and oddsmakers wrong, they opened as +375 dogs.
Now, they are headed to the NBA Finals after falling a missed 3-pointer short in 2022. And, of course, they'll open that series as underdogs to the Denver Nuggets, familiar territory for a team that has become comfortable being counted out.