NBA Eastern Conference Team Preview – Miami Heat

October 14, 2023

Tony Camino

How Cavs Matchup Against Veteran Miami Heat

For the past couple of years, the Miami Heat have been perennial contenders in the Eastern Conference, making three conference finals appearances and two NBA Finals appearances in the last four years. Last year’s run showcased the core of Heat culture when they made the NBA Finals as an eighth seed. Their run was improbable, to say the least, but this offseason wasn’t favorable for them. It seemed like everyone else improved, and they lost some key contributors from the previous seasons.

Projected Rotation

Guards: Kyle Lowry, Tyler Herro, Caleb Martin

Wings: Jimmy Butler, Josh Richardson, Duncan Robinson

Bigs: Bam Adebayo, Kevin Love, Thomas Bryant

While the Bucks and Celtics did everything they could to separate themselves from the pack, the Heat failed to make significant moves and lost some key players. Max Strus played a pivotal role for them throughout their recent playoff runs, and his departure is a significant blow to their squad. Gabe Vincent made a major impact a year ago, and his emergence was a key factor in their improbable run to the Finals.

Though Tyler Herro will return from his injury, the Heat have undoubtedly fallen down a tier in terms of Eastern Conference contenders and are likely to settle toward the bottom of the conference. Kyle Lowry may not be suited for a full season as a starter at his age, and a lack of depth at the guard position could hurt their offense. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo will have to carry the load both offensively and defensively, as the Heat’s season hinges on their All-Stars performing at their best.

How do they match up with the Cavs?

On paper, the Cavs match up very favorably with the Heat due to their size and shooting advantage. The Heat lack the size to overpower the Cavs inside, and the presence of Jarrett Allen or Evan Mobley should help neutralize them. Josh Richardson is a crucial component for the Heat, as he offers a rare combination of defensive prowess and outside shooting.

Caleb Martin must sustain the momentum he gained during the playoff run for the team to remain in the second tier of Eastern Conference teams. Alongside Richardson, he is a valuable rotation player who can defend his position while contributing to offense and spacing. Given the uncertainties at the guard position, Martin’s ability to continue scoring off the dribble and hitting open threes is vital for the Heat this season. While his career history suggests otherwise, he might have turned a corner in the 2023 Playoffs.

This off-season clearly positions the Cavs ahead of the Heat on paper, and I anticipate this difference to manifest throughout the season. The increased spacing and offensive movement, combined with a faster pace of play from the Cavs, should greatly benefit them and bring them closer to the Bucks and Celtics compared to the Heat.

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