Heat Run to Finals a Good Lesson for Underdogs Everywhere

It was pretty close, but the Heat joined a long list of teams to not blow a 3-0 series lead. In fact, in the NBA playoffs, such teams are now 151-0. Jimmy Butler

But it took the Heat seven games to dispatch of the Celtics, winning Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals on their opponent’s floor.

Thanks to a fairly easy 103-84 win, the Heat now advance to the Finals to meet the Nuggets. Game 1 is Thursday in Denver.

It is the first Finals meeting between the two franchises, and the Nuggets are considered the favorites. Some may even call them the “heavy” favorites.

But that has to be OK with the Heat. In case you didn’t already know, they’re just the second No. 8 playoff seed to advance to the Finals, joining the 1999 Knicks. And even that was a lockout-shortened season — so you could make the case the Knicks weren’t your typical bottom seed.

These Heat definitely were, having to battle their way through the play-in tournament just to make the playoffs in the first place.

“I think probably people can relate to this team,” coach Erik Spoelstra said, via Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “Life is hard. Professional sports is just kind of a reflection sometimes of life, that things don’t always go your way. The inevitable setbacks happen and it’s how you deal with that collectively.

“There’s a lot of different ways that it can go. It can sap your spirit. It can take a team down for whatever reason. With this group, it’s steeled us and made us closer and made us tougher.”

As the Heat did in the other three games they won, contributions in Game 7 came from everywhere.

Jimmy Butler scored 26 points on his way to winning the Larry Bird Trophy, given to the East playoffs MVP. Caleb Martin scored a season-high 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. He too was huge. Bam Adebayo added 12 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.

On and on it goes, as the Heat without a doubt did this collectively.

“Everybody’s confidence is so high,” Butler said. “We have belief that we can do something incredibly special. So we are going to hit the ground running when we get to Denver, and I like our chances.”

Well of course he does. Butler has stuck with that theme for the entire playoffs. And so far, he’s been right every time.

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