Breaking Down the HEAT’s Seeding Matchups

Miami HEAT
by Joe Beguiristain
HEAT.com

Now that the 2019-20 season has officially been announced and the schedule has been released, it’s time to take a look at the eight remaining “seeding games” the HEAT have on the docket before the postseason begins:

  • 8/1 vs Nuggets at 1PM EDT
  • 8/3 vs Raptors at 1:30PM EDT
  • 8/4 vs Celtics at 6:30PM EDT
  • 8/6 vs Bucks at 4PM EDT
  • 8/8 vs Suns at 7:30PM EDT
  • 8/10 vs Pacers at 8PM EDT
  • 8/12 vs Thunder at 8PM EDT
  • 8/14 vs Pacers (Time TBD)

A complete listing of local broadcast information for TV and radio will be released at a later date.

Now, Miami has gone 8-3 against those teams, but that’s a pretty daunting list.

And with the standings being so tight (the HEAT are two games up on the Pacers and Sixers for the fourth seed and two and a half games behind the Celtics for the third seed), these eight matchups are imperative.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look back at how Miami fared against each of those teams before the season shut down on the night of March 11.


Denver Nuggets

  • 11/5: HEAT 89 – Nuggets 109

No matter how you slice it, this was just a tough one for Miami.

Sure, Jimmy Butler and Meyers Leonard made some noise early on and kept the HEAT within striking distance at the break, but it just wasn’t enough in the end.

It’ll be interesting to see how Miami’s newer pieces in Jae Crowder, Andre Iguodala and Solomon Hill factor into this particular matchup.


Toronto Raptors

  • 12/3: HEAT 121 – Raptors 110 (OT)
  • 1/2: Raptors 76 – HEAT 84

These games have just been flat-out fun.

In early December, Miami handed Toronto its first loss at home due to Butler’s stellar play in the overtime period. All told, he scored the first eight points of OT to help the HEAT pull away from the Raptors for good…

…and notched a triple-double with a team-high 22 points (tied with Duncan Robinson), a game-high 13 rebounds and a game-high 12 assists.

Otherwise, Bam Adebayo answered the bell on both ends against Pascal Siakam, Robinson caught fire in the third and Derrick Jones Jr. did his thing defensively as usual.

Speaking of defense, the HEAT put the clamps on Toronto about a month later and held the squad to a season-low 76 points and 31.5 percent shooting. Yes, you read those numbers correctly.

Once again, Jones Jr. emptied the tank in multiple defensive looks and racked up a game-high five deflections. And on a night where scoring came at a premium, Tyler Herro provided a spark with 11 straight points for Miami, spanning from late in the third to early in the fourth.

Even though the HEAT have gotten the best of the Raptors thus far, that doesn’t guarantee anything. We’ll see what’s in store come August.


Boston Celtics

  • 12/4: HEAT 93 – Celtics 112
  • 1/28: Celtics 109 – HEAT 101

Miami has performed quite well against teams atop the East, but the Celtics have been the exception.

In both matchups, the HEAT have had trouble manufacturing enough consistent offense and defending Boston’s slew of weapons.

That said, Butler actually scored a game-high 37 points and tied a career-high with six made triples in that first meeting at TD Garden. Then in late January at AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami hung around, and Goran Dragić went off in the fourth to try and steal the game.

But again, those sequences were just too few and far between.

Just before the hiatus, the HEAT were gaining ground on the Celtics, who were struggling a bit on both ends. With so much time elapsed since then, it’ll be fun to see how this game shakes out.


Milwaukee Bucks

  • 10/26: HEAT 131 – Bucks 126 (OT)
  • 3/2: Bucks 89 – HEAT 105

Make no mistake about it: the Bucks are one of the best teams in the league. The HEAT just haven’t been fazed by them.

Despite not having Butler in that first meeting in late October, Miami stormed back from a 21-point deficit in the third quarter, outlasted Giannis Antetokounmpo’s run late and came away with a 131-126 victory in OT.

Oh yeah, Dragić scored 15 points in the fourth quarter and overtime period combined, and Adebayo did this:

A little over four months later with a much different rotation, the HEAT did it again. This time around, though, Miami held Milwaukee to a season-low 89 points on just 40.7 percent shooting.

The HEAT were just as sharp on the offensive end, as six guys scored in double-figures (led by Butler and Crowder’s 18 points apiece), and the team as a whole shot 18-of-37 from deep (48.6 percent).

But once more, it was Miami’s defense that got the job done.


Phoenix Suns

  • 11/7: HEAT 124 – Suns 108

Coming into this one, Devin Booker and the Suns were on a nice little 5-2 run to start the season.

Then Butler quelled all that with one of his best performances in a HEAT uniform.

Seriously, he set career-highs for points in a first quarter (18) and points in a first half (30), as he did a little bit of everything offensively…

…including scoring with one sneaker.

And once Phoenix ramped things up in the second half, Dragić finished the rest with 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting after the break.

Butler ended up with a game-high 34 points on 11-of-16 shooting from the field and a perfect 10-of-10 shooting from the charity stripe, five rebounds and four assists, while Dragić amassed 25 points on 9-of-16 shooting, including 5-of-7 from deep, six rebounds and four assists.


Indiana Pacers

  • 12/27: Pacers 112 – HEAT 113
  • 1/8: HEAT 122 – Pacers 108

Although the HEAT have played very well against the Bucks and Raptors, we can’t forget about their outings with the Pacers.

Miami and Indiana’s first matchup in late December was a slugfest, as there were 20 lead changes before the night was done. Naturally, Dragić hit the game-winning bucket with 6.8 seconds left, and Jones Jr. forced Aaron Holiday into a miss just before the buzzer.

Dragić wound up with 14 points, including a game-high nine in the fourth, a team-high six assists (tied with Butler and Adebayo), three boards and a steal.

Adebayo, meanwhile, gave the HEAT a bunch of second-chance opportunities and was a beast on the glass with a game-high 15 boards (six offensive). Not to mention, Robinson became the fastest player in franchise history to hit 100 threes in a season, and Kendrick Nunn became the fastest HEAT rookie to score 500 points.

So…it was a fun night.

Less than two weeks later, Miami kept up its winning ways and simply dominated Indiana on both ends of the floor. In fact, the HEAT led by as many as 31 points, and seven guys scored in double-figures. Herro scored 10 of his team-high 19 points in the fourth to make sure Miami stayed ahead, but Butler, Adebayo and Jones Jr. were the catalysts in what was a chippy game throughout.

Above all else, Adebayo really balled out against Myles Turner:

Now, it’s important to note that Victor Oladipo didn’t play in either game since he was still rehabbing his right knee, so we’ll see how his potential return affects this explosive matchup.


Oklahoma City Thunder

  • 1/17: HEAT 115 – Thunder 108

We all know that OKC is a tough place to play.

Still, in the HEAT’s lone matchup with the Thunder up until this point, they blocked out the noise and raced out to a 14-point lead at halftime thanks to Adebayo’s quick start (he scored 16 of his 21 points in the first half). And even though Miami extended that lead to 22 early in the fourth behind Nunn and Jones Jr.’s sharp play, Dennis Schröder and Chris Paul cut the deficit to single digits.

Then Nunn and Butler responded.

Nunn finished with a team-high 22 points. Butler, on the other hand, flirted with a triple-double and recorded 14 points, a game-high 10 boards and a team-high seven assists.

While the HEAT held on to win it, the Thunder showed a lot of moxie down the stretch. They’ll be a tough out for any Western Conference team once the playoffs commence.

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