After flirting with the bottom of the standings for months the Miami Heat are surging. After an impressive win against the Houston Rockets on January 17th the Heat have been unstoppable. While they certainly don’t show any signs of slowing down, Heat faithful must wonder what they’re trying to accomplish. That’s not to say the wins aren’t great, there’s nothing like watching your favorite team win, but weren’t they supposed to tank?
One can base Miami’s winning streak on variety of factors, but it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what’s led to their success. Some might say it’s a response to playoff fatigue and the fact that Miami is getting back some bodies. I mean both Toronto and Cleveland have entered downward spirals, both of which don’t appear fixable with anything but rest. Whereas Miami, despite losing two key players in Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson have been able to dish minutes to healthy veterans. On the other hand I think it’s fair to say, that this is the type of team the Heat expected to have this season, things just haven’t come together until now because of injuries.
Miami fans boast about Heat culture and former players and current players alike generally have nothing, but positive things to say about the organization. With that being said, I think if Heat culture can be summed up in one word it would be “winning.” If you’ve watched the Heat this season, it’s obvious that this team never gives up and is quite talented. They’re always fighting, even with the score out of reach. As a result the team has grown closer together, and have bought in to the ultimate goal as made evident by the recent comments of Dion Waiters and James Johnson.
Waiters: “We got to continue to keep working, get better day by day ... and keep trusting the process." Spo got to him.— Anthony Chiang (@Anthony_Chiang) January 31, 2017
James Johnson: "[We've got the] same goal we had at the beginning of the season: make the playoffs. It's ain't no [re]building year for us."— Manny Navarro (@Manny_Navarro) January 31, 2017
If Miami is able to clinch a playoff birth it won’t be the first time they’ve accomplished something to this magnitude. According to Manny Navarro in the 2003-2004 season, the Heat made the second round of the playoffs despite being 25-36 on March 2nd, they finished the season 42-40. It remains to be seen whether or not the Heat pull this off, but there will be a cost, this time in the form of a potential star draft pick if they do. Nevertheless, drafting is hard (see Michael Beasley) so maybe the Heat can pray for a Justise Winslow situation if they continue winning.
Pat Riley doesn’t tank. He prefers to build around veterans, and stay consistently good. Any big changes are usually made in the form of star acquisitions as made evident by the Dragic trade just two seasons ago and his history in the front office. This is the youngest core that Miami has had in years, and while tanking does seem like the right move, unless there’s a huge move come trade deadline you can expect them to keep on trying to win.