Back-to-back home losses in the NBA finals have placed the Heat in a dire position, with the East’s No. 8 seed now needing to, again, climb out of a 3–1 hole to defeat the Nuggets, the top team in the West this season.
To some, the double-digit defeats, which saw Miami trail by as much as 21 and 17 points, respectively, seemingly closed the door on a team billed as a heavy underdog coming into the series. But, while the odds and momentum appear firmly in Denver’s favor, two of the Heat’s veterans warned those ready to write Miami off to tread lightly.
Forward Udonis Haslem and guard Kyle Lowry delivered fiery comments on the team’s underdog label following Friday’s 108–95 Game 4 loss. Both players passionately dismissed a narrative suggesting there’s a talent gap between the teams due to Miami relying on undrafted players and key rotation pieces Gabe Vincent, Caleb Martin, Duncan Robinson and Max Strus.
“It’s disrespectful for people to say that because you can’t just trick your way into the Finals. It takes talent,” Haslem told Bleacher Report. “I don’t know what the f— they’re talking about with that s---. Yes, we have some undrafted players, but they’re also talented players and we’ve made it this far. We just have to limit our mistakes.”
As a 21-year pro and one of Miami’s seven undrafted players, Haslem has seen and overcome it all in his career. And, though he’s not part of the rotation these days, the respected Heat lifer said he believes in the team the same way he did during Miami’s two-title run from 2010 to ’14 with LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh.
“I have no doubt we’ll respond accordingly,” Haslem added.
As for Lowry, who won a ring with the Raptors in 2019, the former All-Star drew his confidence from Miami’s postseason run. After earning the eighth seed in the play-in tournament, the Heat beat the No. 1 seed Bucks, fifth-seed Knicks and staved off the two-seed Celtics in a thrilling seven-game East finals.
“We’ve been in this situation the entire playoffs where people have counted us out and said we’re an undrafted team, but we are in the NBA Finals for a damn reason. I don’t think we listen to the noise because, at the end of the day, a team is 15 deep,” Lowry said, via B/R.
While Haslem and Lowry clearly have faith in a comeback, it’ll be up to the Heat as a whole to pull it off. And, if they do, Miami would join LeBron’s 2016 Cavaliers as the only teams to ever overcome a 3–1 deficit in the NBA finals.