The Miami Heat have endured devastating injuries and a grueling gauntlet through the Eastern Conference to earn their spot in the 2023 NBA Finals. Many would argue the No. 8 seed are the most unlikely team to reach the championship round. There was just too much going against them to reasonably survive this long. Surely, they will run out of gas against the Denver Nuggets, right?
The Heat have come face to with that type of public skepticism for a month-and-a-half now, so they are prepared for it in this ultimate series. Actually, Kendrick Perkins believes they thrive off it and will again shatter expectations Game 1 Thursday night in Denver.
“The Miami Heat are approaching the Game 1s like it's Game 7 and that's why I'm picking the Miami Heat tonight to win,” the 2008 NBA Champion and current ESPN analyst predicted on NBA Today, per ClutchPoints.
"The Miami Heat are approaching the Game 1s like it's Game 7 and that's why I'm picking the Miami Heat tonight to win."
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) June 1, 2023
Perkins raises a strong point about the team's fearless mentality. It is one that has been established by Heat president Pat Riley and head coach Erik Spoelstra, and exemplified by Jimmy Butler, Caleb Martin and the rest of the roster during these playoffs.
Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets pose all kind of potential matchup problems with their size and deft ball movement. However, the Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks and Boston Celtics were all either bigger, more talented or both, and are all sitting at home still trying to decipher the cause of their demise.
To this point, the formula has been a combination of great coaching and adjustment-making, role players like Caleb Martin and Gabe Vincent rising to the occasion and an unrelenting physicality and grit used to grind opponents down. That is a lot that has to slide into place, but so far it has worked beautifully.
They may be underdogs, but nothing the Heat accomplish in the NBA Finals should shock anyone after this momentous run.