Last season, the Heat lost by just two points in Game 7 against the Boston Celtics in the Conference Finals, which denied them a chance to play for the NBA title.
Miami had to take the hard road home after coming so close to the crown.
At the end of that meeting, Jimmy Butler, the Miami star, said there would be a rematch next season…and it was.
The planets align for Boston and Miami now coming from different paths in the Eastern Finals to face each other.
The former finished 2nd in the regular season and 7th and 3rd in the playoffs, while the latter finished 8th and finished 1st and 5th.
But now Butler has gone a step further and not only hopes to beat the Celtics but is all set for the league title.
“This is our year,” Jimmy said in warm-up practice before Wednesday’s Game 1 in the first of seven wins-four games in the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday.
“We are going to do what we are supposed to do and get the first four wins. We are very capable of this. We have enough equipment,” he said.
Boston has already lost one finals to the Heat in their 2019-20 run, but after this season he is averaging 31.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game.
The Celtics have the better players and on paper they are a broad favorite to beat Miami, which those predictions already know and what motivates them the most.
Thus they eliminated the Milwaukee Bucks and the New York Knicks. And nothing stops him from going to Boston.
And that is that neither speculators nor “experts” learn.
There is no valid forecast with the Heat, much less in the playoffs, where it always converges. And in basketball, you don’t win by quality alone.
Game 2 will also be held in Boston and Games 3 and 4 will take place on Sunday, May 21 and 23 at the Kasya Center in Miami.
And then the next three matches will be alternate venues.
The winner will face the winner of the West in the NBA Finals in a series starting this Tuesday between the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets.
Even the 2020 Finals between the Lakers and Miami will be replayed.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra envisioned this before the start of the season and communicated it to his men. They recently saw them again after sneaking into the playoffs.
“I know one thing about the guys in that locker room: I know how badly they hurt the last 48 hours of the regular season and how desperate our group was to make the playoffs,” Spoelstra said.
“They wanted to get there so they could have another chance to compete for a title.”
It won’t be easy to beat the Celtics, who have a monster like Jayson Tatum and a great player like Jaylen Brown.
The task is to find a way to stop them and not neglect the rest of the players that make up a great team.
The Heat have another day off and almost all of their men are available.
Only Cody Zeller (illness) is in doubt, in addition to Tyler Herro (hand surgery), who could probably play in a Fantasy Finals.
The Celtics will be without Danilo Gallinari (knee).
They will undoubtedly be the toughest games of the season, but Butler knows why they can win this time.
“The boys are playing incredible basketball, I like our chances and everybody in this organization knows that,” said Butler, who also praised the Celtics.
“If there ever was a need to play perfect basketball, which some people believe is not the case, the closer we can get, the better.”