The Miami Heat's next game Thursday night is one that will take the players and coaches down memory lane back to last June as they will be taking on the Denver Nuggets in a NBA Finals rematch. Players like Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo spoke to the media about playing the Nuggets and if it brings back any sour thoughts.

Each answered in their own different ways such as Butler who had probably the most on-brand response. Butler acknowledges that they lost the NBA Finals in five games after a miraculous run from the eight seed, but he said that Miami has “got to let go” since the goal is to win a championship in the horizon according to Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel.

“They’re a really good team, at home,” Butler said. “Yes, we realize what happened to us last year in the Finals against them. But got to let that go, because we’re trying to make it there again, as are they.”

Adebayo said he'll feel “numb” when going back to Nuggets arena

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) dribbles during the fourth quarter of game five of the 2023 NBA Finals against the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Adebayo on the other hand said that when he gets back to Ball Arena where the Nuggets play, he expects to feel “numb.” The reason is simple as Miami lost the series when the simple goal was to do the opposite.

“The feeling for me when I walk back in there would be numb,” Adebayo said. “Just because we went there and lost. That wasn’t the point of going to the Finals. The point of the Finals was to get a win.”

However, there is not any added motivation for this game for Adebayo as he feels that started once this current season began. Adebayo has been to two NBA Finals with the Heat as this season, he is averaging 20.3 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game while shooting 51.5 percent from the field.

“No, I feel like that started from the beginning of the year,” Adebayo said. “I feel like that motivation was from the time we lost that game, through the whole summer, to preseason, to All-Star break, to this point.”

Caleb Martin talks about emotions Heat will feel after NBA Finals loss

Another player on the Heat that was huge in last season's playoff run was Caleb Martin who was stellar as a scoring threat and the team's “X factor” when top guys like Butler and Adebayo were struggling and since Tyler Herro was injured. He said that coming back to the arena they lost in definitely brings back memories and also a reflection on how “NBA life changes quickly.”

“Obviously, it reminds you of how close you came,” Martin said. “But we ended up a little bit short. Yeah, it brings back memories of just the run that we had to get to that point, too, so a little bit of both.”

“It shows you NBA life changes quickly,” Martin continued.” Yeah, it does matter kind of what you do or what kind of run you make, but a lot of that stuff still is subject to change. Regardless of what team we had or who we don’t have, those memories will always stick, regardless.”

For some people, having painful memories either fuels them to strive for better or soaks them down in agony. That is Martin's mindset with the NBA Finals loss last season as he mentioned that “it depends” on how you use those feelings.

“It depends what you’re doing with it,” Martin said. “Us, as a team, we can’t live in the past. But those are great memories that can remind you what you’re capable of doing.

Duncan Robinson, Haywood Highsmith reflect after exciting playoff run

While they did lose in the most meaningful games possible, the Heat's postseason run is still one to be admired as they beat the likes of the No. 1 seeded Milwaukee Bucks, the New York Knicks, then the high-powered Boston Celtics. Still for Duncan Robinson, falling short is what “sits with you probably more than anything else.”

“I don’t know,” Robinson said via The Sun Sentinel. “Obviously there’s a mix of emotions about that run last year. It was special in a lot of ways. But when you fall short of the ultimate goal, that sits with you probably more than anything else.”

Haywood Highsmith as well shined in the playoffs with the bevy of injuries Miami had and was productive in showing off his abilities, especially on the defensive side of the ball. He talked about what his feelings will be like to face the Nuggets, admitting that “we weren't happy for second place.”

“It’s a feeling of getting there, but not reaching the full goal,” Highsmith said. “We got there, we just didn’t fulfill the main goal. It was a good run, but we also knew we had the talent. We weren’t happy for second place, at all.”

In any case, the Heat in the present time have turned a corner as they have won their last five games and their last nine of 11 contests. They are 33-25 on the season which puts them fifth in the Eastern Conference as they face Denver Thursday night to conclude the road trip.