The NBA has yet to decide whether or not the 2019-20 season will resume due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the announcement that the NBA Draft Lottery and pre-draft combine — that were to be held in Chicago — will be postponed indefinitely, it could be an indication that the season will continue in some fashion.
But if this truly is the end of the season, there are many great moments to look back on for Heat fans as this has been one of the most exciting seasons of the last few years.
8) Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn’s first game
Herro and Nunn both had their fair share of great moments from the season, including Herro’s thriller against the Philadelphia 76ers on December 28th, 2019. However, no game stood out as much as the first time seeing both players in Heat uniforms during the regular season, as Herro poured in 14 points, eight rebounds and two steals while Nunn added 24 points. Both players starting their first ever games together and having the performances they did should give Heat fans a great deal of confidence for the future of Miami.
7) Duncan Robinson’s record-breaking season
Robinson went from averaging 9.2 points in college and being a relative unknown to becoming one of the NBA’s best 3-point shooters in just under two years. Robinson deserves more consideration for the Most Improved Player Award, as he went from a two-way contract player spending most of the time in the G-League to averaging 30 minutes per game, starting in 60 of 65 games played, and scoring 13.3 points per game on 45% shooting from deep on eight attempts.
Robinson broke the record for single-season 3-pointers made for a Heat player, a record held by Wayne Ellington, even in a shortened season. The most impressive Robinson moment was a stretch in which Robinson made 24 3-pointers in just three games on 38 attempts, an absurd 63% mark.
6) “It’s over game” against the Atlanta Hawks
December 10th, 2019. Score: 117-111, with under a minute left. Young has just found Alex Len inside for a clean slam, and hope has seemingly run out for the Heat, with Young beckoning to the crowd that the game is over. Within the next 30 seconds, Duncan Robinson splashes a 3, Derrick Jones Jr. gets a nasty block and Heat star Jimmy Butler ties the game at 117.
The game went into overtime and the Heat proceeded to outscore the Hawks 18-4 in overtime, with Robinson clocking in 10 3-pointers, tying the Heat single-game record. The Heat went on to win 135-121 with some other outstanding performances in the game (more on that later).
Never count your chickens before they are hatched, Trae.
5) Dwyane Wade’s jersey retirement ceremony and game
On Feb. 22, 2020, the Miami Heat honored its greatest player to ever put on a Heat uniform, retiring Dwyane Wade’s jersey over a three day ceremony that culminated in sending Wade’s jersey up to the rafters, joining Chris Bosh, Shaquille O’Neal, Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway.
While the retirement of Wade’s jersey, and his iconic speech, are enough to warrant a placement on this list alone, the game was riveting as well. The Heat blew out the Cleveland Cavaliers 124-105, behind double-digit scoring from seven different players, and a 24-point and eight-assist performance from Nunn.
4) Bam Adebayo’s growth, triple-doubles
You know the Heat had a successful season when Adebayo’s growth into a star player and his first triple-double of his career are just fourth on this list. Adebayo always had the tool set to be the next great Miami Heat big man, following in the footsteps of Rony Seikaly, Alonzo Mourning, Shaquille O’Neal, Udonis Haslem and others. The Heat took Adebayo knowing that he had the tools to become a great offensive player on top of his already fantastic defense.
Adebayo is one of just two players to average five or more assists as a center this season, joining Denver Nuggets All-Star Nikola Jokic as the other. The Heat let Adebayo bring the ball up the court often in practice and in Summer League games and it paid dividends as he transitioned into a full-time starter. Adebayo was in the mix for the Most Improved Player Award and upped his scoring average to 16.2 from 8.9.
The 6’9” center from Kentucky’s first career triple-double came in the same game as a Jimmy Butler triple-double in the aforementioned 135-121 win over the Hawks. Adebayo became the youngest Heat player to obtain a triple-double after he put up 30 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. Robinson, Nunn, Butler and Adebayo combined for 120 points in the contest.
His second of the season came not even a week later when the Heat took on the Dallas Mavericks on December 14, 2019. The center put up 18 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in the win. It is safe to say that the 22-year-old center has not even come close to hitting his ceiling, and the best is yet to come for Adebayo.
3) Heat dominate All-Star weekend
The Heat had numerous All-Star Weekend participants in the 2020 season, with Nunn and Herro being selected for the Rising Stars Game, Robinson being named to the 3-point Contest, Derrick Jones Jr. being chosen to represent the Heat in the Slam Dunk Contest, Adebayo participating in the Skills Challenge and Butler and Adebayo being selected to the All-Star Game itself.
Not only did the Heat have a plethora of selections, but the team opened up All-Star Saturday Night with a dominant performance by Adebayo in the Skills Challenge, who won in exciting fashion against Indiana Pacers center Domantas Sabonis. Adebayo was the first center since Karl-Anthony Towns in 2016 to win the challenge.
Little did Heat fans know, but the night would only get crazier from there. Jones Jr.’s dunk showdown with the Orlando Magic’s forward Aaron Gordon was reminiscent of the 2016 Dunk Contest, when Gordon showed down against then-Minnesota Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine. Jones dunked over Adebayo, and had multiple impressive dunks, while Gordon dunked over Boston Celtics center Tacko Fall. In the end, the two players had some of the best dunks fans had seen in awhile, and a controversial ending resulted in Jones winning the contest, and the Heat coming away with two of three titles from All-Star Saturday Night.
2) T.J. Warren and Jimmy Butler get into it
The Heat and the Pacers have always had a complicated relationship, with the pair meeting consistently during the “Big Three” era of the Miami Heat. On January 8th, the Heat and Pacers squared off in their second match-up of the season after the Heat took the first contest in a tightly contested game.
This time around, the Heat began to build a big lead in the third quarter before Pacers starter T.J. Warren grabbed Butler from behind leading to a verbal altercation between the two before they had to be separated.
On the very next play, with the Heat up 79-56, Warren drew an offensive foul on Butler who taunted Butler by following closely behind him and clapping to annoy Butler. This led to the immediate ejection of Warren from the contest with Butler allowed to remain in the game. Butler blew kisses to Warren as he exited Bankers Life Fieldhouse and had some choice words for Warren after the Heat won by 14 points.
“He’s not even in my f****** league,” Butler said.
Butler finished with 14 points, seven assists and six rebounds while Warren finished with just three points on awful shooting marks. If the regular season is never finished and the NBA goes directly into the playoffs, the Heat and Pacers would be matched up as a fourth/fifth seed matchup, respectively, making a potential series must-watch television.
1) Both victories over the Milwaukee Bucks
This entry is somewhat cheating, but both wins were fantastic for the Heat. The Milwaukee Bucks stand at 53-12, on pace for about 67 wins, and are led by MVP front-runner Giannis Antetokounmpo. In just the second game of the season, the Heat were able to establish itself as an Eastern Conference contender by defeating the Bucks in a thriller.
Guards Goran Dragic and Justise Winslow finished with near-triple doubles, and every Heat player that played aside from Duncan Robinson (nine points) and Meyers Leonard (eight points) scored in double-figures. But no Heat player had a more outstanding performance than Adebayo, who finished with 19 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists in a breakout game.
While Adebayo played fantastic defense on Antetokounmpo, and has been known to step it up against higher profile players like LeBron James and Stephen Curry, he really showed out in the next matchup with the Bucks.
At the time, the Heat had been spiraling after enduring a road stretch in which the team went 1-5, and then dropped disappointing games to the Timberwolves and Cavaliers. Even though the team had won back-to-back games against the Brooklyn Nets and Mavericks, it was in major need of a big win to right the ship.
The team was able to blowout the Eastern Conference leaders behind strong performances by recently-added Jae Crowder and Butler, but again it was Adebayo who stood out. Adebayo put up 14 points, 13 rebounds and five assists while playing defense on Antetokounmpo for the majority of the game. Antetokounmpo was held to his season low by Adebayo, only managing to put up 13 points in the contest, far fewer than his 29.6 per game.
Following the loss, Antetokounmpo made it a point to mention his respect for Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra and Adebayo for the way they enacted their stout defense on the MVP frontrunner.