Overreaction #1: Pat Riley’s offseason was a big problem for Miami
Once it became clear that Damian Lillard wasn’t going to be back in Rip City for the 2023-24 season, it became fait accompli that he would end up in South Beach alongside Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Nobody seemed to be in a rush to get it done, but it didn’t matter – Dame Time was going to the Miami Heat.
Then, on the dawn of the season, Lillard was finally moved … to Milwaukee. Whoops!
It was no secret how much Miami’s offseason revolved around getting Lillard. His delivery somewhere else cast Miami’s offseason of some significant losses and not many major gains in a new light.
Miami lost two key contributors to last year’s team in Gabe Vincent and Max Strus to the Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers, respectively. Oft-injured Victor Oladipo also departed. All that was brought in was backup big man Thomas Bryant in free agency and wing Jaime Jaquez in the draft.
Even without Lillard, the bones of what was an NBA Finals team returned to play for Erik Spoelstra, one of the best coaches around. But that squad is also another year older; Lillard wouldn’t have helped in that department, but the Heat entered the season as one of the league’s five oldest squads.
All of this to say, yes the Heat have started slowly, but their track record suggests better days are ahead. In fact, they’ve reeled off three straight wins since their 1-4 start, putting them back into play-in position (as if they really matters less than 10 percent through the season).
The Heat are still trying to work in their new pieces and acclimate to larger roles for some of those who have remained from a year ago. They’re also dealing with injuries early, including one that will sideline Tyler Herro for a bit.
The Miami Heat will be a playoff team again this season, maybe even an NBA Finals squad once more. Don’t let five bad games deter you, Heat fans.