The Miami Heat lost the marathon to sign Gordon Hayward. They also lost Chris Bosh to what will probably be a career ending injury, and are just one year removed from Dwyane Wade leaving in free agency. However, Miami still managed to string together a very good offseason. Now, they are gearing up for another playoff run.
During the second half of the season, the Heat finished 30-11--the best record in the Eastern Conference during that time frame but not enough to make the playoffs. Miami won 73.2% of their games after January 14th, which finished second behind the Golden State Warriors during that stretch. The Heat finished the season 41-41 which gave them the ninth-best record in the Eastern Conference. A lot of key players were hurt for the whole season or for a good majority of it, which could be a factor into them just missing the playoffs. Miami became the first team in NBA history to reach .500% after being at least 19 games under in the same season.
Dion Waiters was playing probably the best basketball of his career (averaging 15.8 points per game) but only appeared in 46 games due to injury. Dion was hitting big shots and was looking like the Heat's best player at times. James Johnson also showed he is a valuable piece to the puzzle. He contributed 12.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists per contest. Goran Dragic averaged 20.3 points and Hassan Whiteside averaged 17 points and 14.3 rebounds per game. Everyone was contributing to the team's efforts. Tyler Johnson averaged 13.7 ppg and Josh Richardson averaged 10.2 ppg. Justice Winslow was out for the season, only playing 18 games. The starting lineup of Dragic, Waiters, Whiteside, Luke Babbitt and Rodney McGruder went 20-5 during the season per Basketball-Reference.com.
The Heat re-signed James Johnson and Dion Waiters to multi-year contracts. Keeping this young, hungry core together is the key for the Heat to make it back to the playoffs. Miami will also have Justise Winslow and his potential All-NBA defensive skill set back next season, which can definitely give them a boost. The team was able to sign Kelly Olynyk after he was waived by the Boston Celtics to clear cap space for Gordon Hayward. Miami might be an underrated team coming into the 2017-2018 season as teams might not expect them to ride the momentum they were on during the last 41 games of the season. Consistency is also another key. If this team can stay healthy and play the same way they did during their hot streak, they will definitely make the playoffs. Let's hope it turns from the tale of two seasons to the story of a one great season.
Miami might be an underrated team coming into the 2017-2018 season, as teams might not expect them to ride the momentum they had during the last 41 games of the season. Consistency is also another key. If this team can stay healthy and play the same way they did during their hot streak, they will definitely make the playoffs. Let's hope it turns from the tale of two seasons to the story of one great season.