NBA Playoff Picture 2022: Heat Clinch East's No. 1 Seed After Celtics, 76ers LossesApril 8, 2022
The Miami Heat officially clinched the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference on Thursday after losses by the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics.
It's the first such finish since 2012-13 for Miami, and it came in a season filled with obstacles.
Six of the the team's top seven scorers missed 10 or more games because of injury or illness. There was also a notable dustup between head coach Erik Spoelstra and star forward Jimmy Butler during a game last month.
Despite the tumult throughout the year, Miami has been one of the NBA's elite teams with a record of 52-28. The Heat have a balanced squad and feature three players who average at least 19 points per game in Butler, Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo.
Butler earned his sixth All-Star selection this season while averaging 21.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 1.7 steals per game. Herro is one of the top candidates for Sixth Man of the Year, scoring 20.8 points per game. Adebayo is one of the best big men in the league and boasts averages of 19.0 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.4 steals per contest.
Miami has also benefited from the presence of veteran point guard Kyle Lowry, who was acquired last offseason in a sign-and-trade with the Toronto Raptors. He leads the Heat with 7.6 assists per game, and his leadership has been a welcome addition.
The supporting cast has also been a key reason for Miami's success. Duncan Robinson, Max Strus, Caleb Martin, P.J. Tucker and Gabe Vincent all shoot at least 36 percent from three-point range. With veterans such as Victor Oladipo and Dewayne Dedmon, the Heat are a deep team that is poised for playoff success.
If Miami stays healthy, it could be in line for its second run to the NBA Finals in three years.
The Heat will go for their sixth straight win when they return to action Friday against the Atlanta Hawks.