Getty On the eve before the Miami Heat’s 2020-21 season opener, Charles Barkley has no faith they can repeat their success from last year.
While the Miami Heat prepares for their 2020-2021 NBA season opener against the Orland Magic on December 23, NBA legend Charles Barkley made it clear that he does not expect them to repeat the success they had last season.
Not only does Barkley believe that they won’t be able to reach the Finals, but the 57-year-old Hall of Famer also doesn’t think the Heat can reclaim their title as Eastern Conference champions because they won’t even make it that far.
Charles Barkley says the Miami Heat have “no chance” to get to the Eastern Conference FINALS pic.twitter.com/OjoyISL0vX
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) December 23, 2020
To be fair, no one thought the Heat had a chance last season either, and then became the first team seeded fifth or lower to make it to the Finals since 1999. As for Barkley’s low bar expectations, to quote The Big Lebowski, “Yeah? Well, that’s just like your opinion man.”
It was a little over two months ago when Miami pulled off one of the most unexpected postseason runs in recent league history. Nor was it a blow out in the Finals. The heat came within just two games of a championship before falling to LeBron James and the Lakers.
Both Sports Illustrated & ESPN List the Heat as a Top 5 Team
Getty(L-R) Goran Dragic #7, Duncan Robinson #55, Jimmy Butler #22, Andre Iguodala #28 and Kelly Olynyk #9 of the Miami Heat look on from the bench during the fourth quarter of a preseason game against the New Orleans Pelicans at American Airlines Arena on December 14, 2020.
While Barkley doesn’t the Heat as competitors, a lot of NBA analysts do. In their 2020-2021 power rankings, both ESPN and Sports Illustrated, out of the 30 teams, place the Heat at No. 5.
Sports Illustrated‘s Michael Shapiro said of Miami:
I don’t quite buy the argument that the Heat were a flash in the pan in 2019–20. Miami sports two likely top-15 players in Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, and Erik Spoelstra will wring everything possible out of his rotational pieces. Tyler Herro’s bubble breakout is anything but a mirage, and Duncan Robinson’s offensive gravity creates important space for an occasionally clogged attack. We shouldn’t peg the Heat as the Eastern Conference favorite barring a trade for James Harden, though this is a team nobody wants to face in the postseason.
As for ESPN, they predict the Heat will go 44-28 with Bam Adebayo having a breakout season. While “Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson took big leaps during the Heat’s bubble run, but the player who is poised to break into superstardom is the man whom Miami recently inked to a max extension: Adebayo. The Heat big man had an All-Star season a year ago, but teammates and coaches are convinced he can be even better.”
Nick Friedell noted, “The Heat pride themselves on not using excuses, but their collective energy is something to watch all year. They are motivated to prove they can be one of the league’s elite teams, but it’s tough for any team to refuel the tank after emptying it out the way the Heat did.
“Butler has the mental toughness to carry the team for stretches alongside Adebayo, but he is going to need more help than at any other point in his career as the Heat attempt to manage his minutes and maneuver through another unprecedented season.”
Butler Has a Strong Message to Analysts With Low Expectations for the Heat This Season
With most of the Heat’s roster intact from their Finals run against the Lakers, team leader Jimmy Butler has no doubt that they can return to the Championship once more. As for analysts’ low expectations for the Miami franchise to pull off back-to-back appearances, Butler “doesn’t give a damn.”
The Heat star also doesn’t appreciate hearing how Miami might be able to “sneak up” on teams. “I would like to think that we got some decent players on this team, where we shouldn’t be able to sneak up on anybody,” Butler said. “We’ve got guys that can play. We’ve got guys that can guard, that can pass, obviously can put the ball in the bucket. I don’t think we should sneak up on anybody.”
“We’ve got individuals that can play. I don’t give a damn. Bam [Adebayo] is learning he better not give a damn either. We’re going to compete. We ain’t sneaking up on anybody. Everybody is gonna know when they go up against the Heat what they’re going up against.”