NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 12 – Every week the African Blogtable brings together some of the top basketball minds from across the continent answering some pressing questions related to the NBA Playoffs.
The Miami Heat have advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2014 and have lost only one game this postseason. Do they have what it takes to go all the way?
Amine El Amri, Le Matin (Morocco): What makes the game of basketball so enjoyable is that a game outcome doesn’t only rely on the strength of one team over their opponent, but also on the momentum, winning mentality and DNA of the organization. Miami has shown all those characteristics en route to the fantastic 8-1 run this postseason. But beyond all of that, what really made the difference for the Heat was to find a true leader in Jimmy Butler. Without breaking records, Butler is just the guy you rely on to make a difference in the money time as he rallies the other very good players around him. Be it the Celtics or the Raptors, Miami has got a huge opportunity and a whole week of rest to win the Eastern Conference and make it to the NBA Finals.
Nicasius Agwanda, Clouds Media (Tanzania): As fans, we might have been focused on both L.A. matchups in the West, but the Miami Heat have just presented us with a dish everyone is now salivating for. This team is built to win. They are great shooters with a defensive toughness and no egos and while we recognize Eric Spoelstra’s great work, this team is being run tremendously by Pat Riley. With his history of creating tough teams, being competitive and being a winner that he is, I really expect anything to happen.
They can definitely make it to the NBA Finals. Their only challenge would be the Boston Celtics. The Celtics are built to go against the Heat and have bodies and length to throw everywhere. If it is the Raptors coming out of the East semis, the Heat would have a great chance and most likely would run a train over the northerners.
Refiloe Seiboko, Mail & Guardian (South Africa): The Heat are an incredibly formidable team and represent a very respectable organization. They are such an explosive unit on the offensive end and have an impressive defensive ability as well. They definitely have a steel-like mettle. But it’s only going to get tougher from here. Their next opponents are going to require a lot more from them and will be far more challenging than the Pacers and the Bucks were.
Rotimi Akindele, Beat FM (Nigeria): First of all, as a Heat fan I am pretty excited that we have made it to the conference finals for the first time since 2014, against all odds. There were no serious threats heading into the playoffs, especially as the 5th-seeded team, and the awesome mix of youth and experience has labelled them as a force to reckon with this postseason. Can they get the ring? Yes, they can. Here’s why. The Heat are blessed with one of the best coaches in the game, Erik Spoelstra, who has a roster that’s got some serious playoff experience, and that was evident in their last series against the Bucks. They have got a good defensive formation and by far are the best shooting team in the East. If the fourth quarter magic keeps going their way, like it’s been almost all season long, then it would be difficult to see them not grab the ring at the end of this campaign.
Stuart Hess, Independent Online (South Africa): The Heat definitely have the ability to go all the way. Erik Spoelstra’s done a heck of a job as the head coach, and emotionally they are being driven by Jimmy Butler. Crucially he’s getting help – Adebayo, Dragić and Herro have all been outstanding throughout the playoffs and Iguodala has provided big minutes and a veteran know-how off the bench. They’ve lost just one game so they’re pretty fresh and are going to come up against the Celtics or the Raptors that have had to work hard to get through the conference finals. Miami must really like their chances.
Woury Diallo, Le Quotidien (Senegal): I commend the Miami Heat on their remarkable playoff journey. Taking out a team of the Milwaukee Bucks caliber in five games is a great feat and should provide Jimmy Butler and his teammates with lots of confidence ahead of the next round. It’s a team that reminds me a little of the Toronto Raptors from last year. Qualifying for the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since the end of LeBron James’ era in Miami in 2014 can be a source of additional motivation for this hungry Heat team. It’s a highly motivated team that has a chance to go far, whether their opponents are Boston or Toronto.
Sharon Allela, Capital FM (Kenya): The bubble playoff experience for most teams has been mentally exhausting but the Miami heat have shown great consistency in their style of play. They have strong defense and an unshakable confidence so far fueled by Jimmy Butler and the rest of the team riding on their wins. They definitely have what it takes to go all the way. The task against either the Raptors or Celtics after tomorrow’s game 7 will not be easy, but in basketball, anything is possible especially in the playoffs.