The Miami Heat came out one of, if not the biggest, winners of the offseason. They finally landed Kyle Lowry after all the rumors in the last trade deadline and even added key pieces like P.J. Tucker and Markieff Morris to hopefully boost both their offense and defense. They did all this while also retaining Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson and Victor Oladipo. Safe to say that their offseason was indeed an upgrade. 

But of course, every team that upgraded like the Heat still have to prove that they indeed got better by playing well in the early days of the regular season. While it’s very much reasonable to consider the Brooklyn Nets and defending champions Milwaukee Bucks as the favorites to win the Eastern conference, it’s also fair to think that the South Beach franchise can make some noise. They’re a lot scarier than what some analysts project them to be. 

Here are four  reasons why the Heat should be considered contenders this season: 

4. No more shortened offseason for Heat

Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and last year’s roster looked exhausted and defeated throughout the regular season, possibly because of their 72-day offseason since the NBA Finals. Injuries, COVID-19 protocols and fatigue got in their way, but at least with more players vaccinated and rested, there’s a good chance that this does not happen to the Heat again.

Hopefully Butler and Adebayo return to how they were in the bubble because that looked exciting for Heat fans. 

3. The Heat defense will be lethal

Miami had one of the best defenses in the league last season, and it will only get better after acquiring Tucker, Lowry and Morris.

Tucker, who did try to contain Kevin Durant (arguably the best player in today’s game) during the Eastern Conference semifinals, will bring more intensity for this Heat squad. Lowry will add pressure on the opposing guards, while Adebayo should come out hungrier than ever after being snubbed for the DPOY. 

As for Butler, there’s no doubt he’ll bring that usual dog mentality on the defensive end as well.

Now, imagine a lineup consisting of Adebayo-Tucker-Butler-Lowry? That’s a rotation that will give offenses hell. 

2. Head coach Erik Spoelstra is still one of the best

When it comes to adjustments in the playoffs, it’s hard to argue that Erik Spoelstra isn’t the best. The way he can maximize the skills of his team is on another level, and his basketball IQ remains as one of the best in the business.

Like the Heat’s bubble run in 2020, Spoelstra will find a way to get his hopefully healthier team to where they need to be this season—because that’s what he does best. 

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When it comes to coaching, the Heat definitely have an edge against their opponents. 

1. Count the Heat X-factors to shine

We all know what Butler, Adebayo and, to an extent, Lowry can do. But remember: this Heat team also has Robinson and Herro. Both players are young, but they’ve certainly shown glimpses of what they can do on the court.

Robinson was one of the best 3-point shooters last season, while Herro will be in a more comfortable six man role now that the pressure is less. It also helps that these two are coming off an offseason with a lot of rest and revenge on their minds.