The Miami Heat officially know who their first-round opponent will be in the NBA Playoffs after the Atlanta Hawks beat the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night. Game 1 is scheduled for Sunday as the Heat begin what is hopefully a Finals run.
Erik Spoelstra’s squad finished as the top dog in the East during the regular season with a phenomenal 53-29 record, despite dealing with a ton of different injuries to key players throughout the campaign, including Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Kyle Lowry. But, thanks to their tremendous depth, Miami managed to keep dominating and win ballgames on a consistent basis. It was very impressive.
This is a team that is extremely motivated to reach the promised land and with so many impactful pieces in their rotation, there is no doubt they will be in the mix. While many would believe that Bam, Butler, or Lowry could be the X-factor for the Heat in this first-round matchup, it’s not any of them. It will be Sixth Man of the Year frontrunner and third-year guard Tyler Herro, who was absolutely phenomenal off the bench for Miami all year long.
Heat X-Factor vs Hawks
Herro has continuously improved since stepping into the Association in 2019, but 2021/22 is by far his best season yet. The former Kentucky standout posted career-high averages of 20.7 points, five rebounds, and four assists per night while shooting a blistering 40% from downtown. He is truly the star of the Heat’s second unit and is such an integral part of their success.
We already saw what Herro did in the 2020 Playoffs in the Orlando Bubble. As a rookie, he averaged 15.8 points throughout the four series, including nearly 20 per night in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics. The Heat guard was truly on the big stage for the first time and had zero experience. Yet, he showed out and put the league on notice from the get-go.
That being said, there is absolutely no reason he won’t do the same again vs. Atlanta. To be frank, the Hawks are very poor defensively (26th in the league) and don’t have even close to the depth of Miami. Also, Herro torched them this season, putting up 20 points, 7.7 assists, and 5.3 boards in three outings while shooting 38% from deep. Atlanta is going to have a hard time containing the Heat in more ways than one, but when it comes to Herro, he will continue to ball out on them.
Spoelstra’s group shouldn’t have any problem coming out of this series unscathed. There is little doubt they’ll probably win in four or five games because of just how solid they are defensively. Herro is a contributing factor on that end too and will be an important part in trying to contain Trae Young in the backcourt.
In all areas, Herro is the true X-factor for the Heat in the opening round and all signs are pointing to him living up to expectations and balling out in a big way.
Tyler Herro, it’s your time to shine.