Star swingman Jimmy Butler and the Heat made an inspirational run through the Eastern Conference playoffs, becoming just the second No. 8 seed to reach the Finals.
And even getting the No. 8 seed wasn’t easy, as they had to do it via the play-in tournament. That also makes Miami the first team to advance to the Finals from the play-in.
In the end, the Heat fell short of a championship, losing to the reigning champion Nuggets in five games. But again, it was still a banner year for the Heat, who surprised the basketball-lovin’ universe.
The play of Butler, of course, was a massive reason why.
“It was a great season as a whole but we came up short,” Butler said during a visit to China, via Mike Chan of SCMP. “We’ll go back to the drawing board and I am going to pick the Heat to win the championship in 2024.”
Granted, it would be a surprise if Butler picked a team other than the one for which he plays. But if there’s someone who is always confident in his team’s chances, and always expresses that confidence, it is Butler — truly among the NBA’s most-beloved superstars.
Despite the money and fame, Butler always comes across as a regular guy who treats the media and fans with respect.
So could the Heat win it all?
Well, it’s hard to say right now. They traded wing Max Strus to the Cavaliers and lost guard Gabe Vincent to the Lakers in free agency, and those were two big pieces off last year’s team. Then again, Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard has demanded a trade to Miami, and if he gets his wish, there aren’t too many people who would want to square off with a Butler-Lillard combo.
In today’s NBA, parity seems to be king. That’s good news for not just the Heat, but pretty much everyone. But if you ask Butler, the Heat have a very clear advantage. And now, perhaps something to motivate them even more than usual.
— Mike Chan | SCMP (@MikeC_SCMP) July 24, 2023