The Miami Heat aren’t built like most Championship contenders, but have managed to overcome some steep odds to reach an NBA Finals matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers. Acquiring Jimmy Butler from the Philadelphia 76ers via sign-and-trade over the offseason was key to establishing a sturdy core, but so was Bam Adebayo’s rise to All-Star status. The Heat don’t have the superstar power the Lakers have, but their blue collar mentality
How the Heat got to the finals
Although the Heat were the fifth-seeded team in the Eastern Conference, they had a fairly easy road to the championship series. Like Los Angeles, Miami posted a 12-3 record through the first three rounds of the postseason. It was dominant from the start, and things got tougher as the playoffs progressed.
The Heat swept a banged up Pacers team that was without All-Star forward Domantas Sabonis, who suffered a foot injury and was nearing a return just before Miami clenched the series. Malcolm Brogdon, Victor Oladipo, T.J. Warren, and Myles Turner couldn’t compete at a high level without their best big man in the mix, and the Heat’s limitless depth made things hard on Indiana’s reserves. Two All-Stars in Butler and Adebayo alongside a bevy of top-notch role players proved to be too much for Indiana.
Miami faced the top-seeded Bucks, who put away the Orlando Magic in five games, in the second round. The Heat game planned well to slow down reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, The Greek Freak was held under 22 points in three of the four games he appeared in. Strangely enough, the only game Miami lost in this series was the one Antetokounmpo missed the majority off because of an ankle injury. Poor game management Mike Budenholzer and limited contributions from role players led to the top team in the Eastern Conference being booted early.
The Celtics became the first team to stop the Heat from getting out to a 3-0 lead by getting a when Gordon Hayward returned from an ankle injury in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. While Boston had All-Stars in Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum alongside and plenty of versatile wings to throw at Miami, Adebayo’s all-around dominance in the post and Tyler Herro’s scoring off the bench tipped the scales in the Heat’s favor.
Best Bet to win Finals MVP?
LeBron James (-125) and Anthony Davis (+250) are the frontrunners for Finals MVP and stand out as the best betting options for a good reason. Both players were All-NBA selections and dominated through the first three rounds of the playoffs. However, there are a few convincing cases for the Heat as well.
Adebayo and Butler are both tied for the third best odds at +900, but both will be up against top-notch defensive players. Adebayo will be among the trees against Davis, JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard in the post. The versatile big struggled to score inside against the Lakers in both games he played against them in 2019. Butler was Miami’s highest scorer both times Miami played Los Angeles in 2019, but he’ll likely be guarded by LeBron James, whop has increased his defensive effort in the playoffs.
My favorite dark horse bet is Tyler Herro (+3500), who scored a career-high 37 points in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals and has emerged as a phenomenal clutch scorer off the bench for Miami. He can do more than score. He stuffs the stat sheet with rebounding and acts as a point guard at times for the Heat. If Miami wins the series and Herro hits big shots down the stretch to secure games, he could win Finals MVP as a rookie.
Daily Fantasy Spotlight
James, Davis, Adebayo, and Butler will likely be the most popular DFS plays in the championship series, but there are plenty of value options available as well. One key option I’d like to focus on is Andre Iguodala, who won a Finals MVP for his defensive efforts against LeBron James during his days with the Golden State Warriors. His defensive IQ earned him extra minutes against the Celtics in the third round, and he could get more minutes for that reason in the championship series as well.
One other value player worth pointing out is Kelly Olynyk. While he didn’t play in two of the six games in the the Eastern Conference Finals, the Heat lack the length necessary to compete with the Lakers down low, Anthony Davis will be a difficult matchup for Jae Crowder, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Olynyk got more minutes at power forward to help combat Los Angeles’ size advantage.
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