(CBS Miami)– The NBA season gets going again in exactly two weeks and the Miami Heat are one of the top contenders in the Eastern Conference.
Led by All-Stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, the Heat have a 41-24 record and Erik Spolestra’s squad was fourth in the Eastern Conference standings before the season was shutdown due to COVID-19. While the Heat have a proven leader in Butler and great depth with players like Goran Dragic, former NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala and Jae Crowder, CBS Sports.com’s NBA writer James Herbert still has some major questions about the Heat as they get ready for the postseason.
“I think Jimmy Butler has fit into the Heat culture as much as you could’ve anticipated,” said Herbert in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “The shooting hasn’t been there, but he’s been so incredible at getting to the line and running that team. He has been a de facto point guard. I really like the versatility of the roster. They are going to get Meyers Leonard back. They can play big or small. They have a bunch of different looks. I don’t know if they have that elite level talent as the top three teams in the East. I wouldn’t predict a Heat win against any of those three teams tomorrow.”
While the Heat may not be one of the favorites once the playoffs begin, Herbert also believes Miami is talented enough to sneak up on some teams and surprise NBA fans this summer.
“They have the talent to hypothetically upset a higher seed, if they get lucky,” said Herbert. “We’re going into a situation where you have to assume the variance is higher than normal, simply because of the unfortunate reality that people could get sick and people could get injured. If you’re talking about the Miami Heat and the chances they have in the playoffs, I think it is very easy to dismiss them from that top tier of contenders. When you’re talking about that second tier and that fringe group, you have to at least consider putting them in there because they have been a very solid team all season long.”
The Heat return to action next week with a scrimmage against the Sacramento Kings on July 22 and then their first regular season game in the bubble is on August 1 against the Denver Nuggets at 1 p.m. EST.