Shorthanded, the Miami Heat grinded and battled throughout the first five games of the 2020 NBA Finals. But things came unraveled in Game 6 as they went down in a blowout, 106-93.
Their two wins in the series - Game 3 and 5 needed everything that had - superhuman performance from Jimmy Butler and the supporting cast making enough plays to pull through. In fact, Butler achieved a feat only LeBron James had earlier accomplished.
According to @EliasSports Jimmy Butler is the 2nd player in NBA history to lead his team outright in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks in a Finals series.- ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 12, 2020
The other player? LeBron James in the 2016 Finals against the Warriors. pic.twitter.com/1D33m4hwHH
That said, nobody expected their team to be here after missing the 2019 postseason and entering the 2020 playoffs as the fifth seed.
MORE: What's next for the Miami Heat?
In their final rotation during Game 6, the Heat had two rookies in Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn, two All-Stars (Butler - 30th overall in 2011; Adebayo - 14th overall in 2017), second-round veterans in Goran Dragic and Jae Crowder, a 3-time Champion in Andre Iguodala, and an undrafted two-way-contract sharpshooter in Duncan Robinson.
"We're trending in the right direction. We're going to learn from this," Jimmy Butler said after Game 6. "We're going to get better. We're going to come back. We're going to come back. We'll be back. That's what we're all saying in that locker room."
While he looked ahead to the bright future, Butler, who has three years remaining on his contract with the Heat including a player option in the final year, also talked about how much he enjoyed playing with the group of guys in the Heat locker room - a sentiment that other players and even coach Erick Spoelstra echoed postgame.
"I wouldn't want to be in the locker room with no other guys," Bam Adebayo said postgame after he recorded 25 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists - although a majority of those came after that the game was more or less out of hand.
"I wouldn't want to be in the locker room with no other guys." - Bam Adebayo, on what he will take away from this season. #HEATTwitter pic.twitter.com/65pDMkBsMb- FOX Sports Sun: HEAT (@FOXSportsHEAT) October 12, 2020
It was injuries to Adebayo and Goran Dragic that really altered the competitive balance of the 2020 Finals. Adebayo missed Games 2 and 3 after aggravating a neck injury in Game 1, while Dragic, the Heat's leading scorer in the playoffs leading up to the Finals, missed Games 2 through 5 after suffering a torn plantar fascia in his left foot in Game 1.
"Coach, don't give up on me," Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said Dragic pleaded with him the morning after he injured his left foot.
Goran Dragic texted Erik Spoelstra at 4:15am the night he got injured saying, "Coach, don't give up on me." #HEATTwitter pic.twitter.com/MzifkcX3j6- FOX Sports Sun: HEAT (@FOXSportsHEAT) October 12, 2020
The rise and success of this Heat roster is a testament to the franchise's construction but also a proof of Spoelstra's greatness as a coach.
Talking about the incredible season, he said - "We're going to remember this year, this season, this experience and that locker room brotherhood for the rest of our lives."
When they qualified for the Finals, the Heat were the lowest-seeded team to make the championship series since the 1998-99 New York Knicks (8th). Having certainly performed above expectations this past season, the goals for next year will only rise. Butler and the Heat culture will be ready for it.
"I told them that I would win them one and I didn't hold up my end of the bargain, so that means I got to do it next year. I told Coach Pat, I told Coach Spo I'm here to win one. I didn't do my job, so moving forward, I got to hold up my end of the bargain."
"I told them I would win 'em one. I didn't hold up my end of the bargain so that means I gotta do it next year."- FOX Sports Sun: HEAT (@FOXSportsHEAT) October 12, 2020
Jimmy Butler believes the future is bright in Miami. pic.twitter.com/KejMW6pTVF
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