Ten Best Miami Heat playoff appearances

The NBA season is more than halfway finished, and the Miami Heat is primed to make another deep playoff run. The Heat are currently in fourth place in the Eastern Division and are doing well in the second half of the season. The Heat has accumulated much playoff success in its 32 years: seven Eastern Conference finals appearances, five NBA finals appearances, and three NBA championships. It’s always exciting, and this year, when the playoffs start April 18, the games are likely to be even more so. Why? Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and slam-dunk champ Derrick Jones Jr. are three of the reasons.

Just to get ready, here is our ranking of the best playoff runs.

2013 NBA Finals (Courtesy of Michael Tipton via Flickr)

NBA Champions
Playoffs Record: 16-7

The third of four straight NBA Finals appearances for the Miami Heat ended in spectacular fashion when the team won game six and game seven to secure the NBA championship. The majority of the playoffs was a breeze for the Heat as the team only lost one game in the first two rounds. The Eastern Conference Finals proved to be tougher; the series against the Indiana Pacers went the full seven games. The same was true for the NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs. It was not the cleanest of the Heat’s playoff performances, but it included Ray Allen’s iconic shot in the waning seconds of game six of the finals. This shot swung the momentum in the Heat’s favor — the team rode that moment into overtime and then a win. They took care of business in game seven at home to secure the championship.

2012 NBA Champions (Courtesy of Paolo Rosa via Flickr)

NBA Champions
Playoffs Record: 16-7

The second of four straight NBA Finals appearances for the Heat ended with the big three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh getting their first NBA championship together. Miami started off strong and eliminated the Carmelo Anthony-led New York Knicks in only five games in the first round. The Heat continued their dominance, defeating the Pacers in the second round, this time in six games. The Eastern Conference Finals was the toughest series in these playoffs by far; the aging Boston Celtics took the Heat to seven games. The Heat found themselves in the NBA finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder trying to avenge their 2011 finals loss. The young Thunder took the first game, but experience prevailed as the Heat won the next four games and took the finals in five.

2006 NBA Finals (Courtesy of Dave Matthews via Flickr)

NBA Champions
Playoffs Record: 16-7

The first NBA Finals appearance for the Miami Heat came in 2006. The team was led by an aging Shaquille O’Neal and Wade in his third year. The year before, Miami had made it to the Eastern Conference Finals where they lost to the Detroit Pistons. Wade led all players with 654 points in these playoffs. With the emergence of a young Wade, the Heat cruised to the NBA finals. These finals solidified him as one of the best players in the league. In the finals, the Heat took on the Dirk Nowitzki-led Dallas Mavericks. The Heat went down two games early in the series, but then came back and won four straight to win their first championship in franchise history.

2011 NBA Finals (Courtesy of Michael Tipton via Flickr)

NBA Finals
Playoffs Record: 14-5

The first year of the big 3 in Miami went well as they made it to the NBA Finals but suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Mavericks. The Heat had no problems on the Eastern conference side of the bracket as they only lost three games out of 15 to reach the finals. But the Mavericks prevailed as the Heat big three could not overcome the tough Mavericks defense. Dallas finally got their payback for the 2006 defeat.

2014 NBA Finals (Courtesy of Michael Tipton via Flickr)

NBA Finals
Playoffs Record: 13-4

The 2014 finals would be the end of the big three. Miami once again had very little issue getting to the finals as they lost a combined four games in the first three rounds. The real test came against the Spurs. Miami only won one game in the finals as the Heat could not beat the great defense and had trouble stopping the fundamentally sound San Antonio offense.

2005 Playoffs Heat vs. Wizards ticket (Courtesy of Rakesh A. via Flickr)

Eastern Conference Finals
Playoffs Record: 11-4

This playoff run would foreshadow the success the Heat would have for years to come. In the first two rounds of the 2005 playoffs, the team did not lose a game — sweeping the New Jersey Nets and Washington Wizards. The first worthy opponent would come in the  Detroit Pistons, who were led by a unique core of four all-star talents. The Heat came close to defeating the Pistons, who won in seven games. This hard-fought series would show the NBA the Heat were not a team to be messed with. Their young talent was starting to flourish and would continue to for many years after the 2005 playoffs.

Tim Hardaway and Alonzo Mourning’s jerseys hanging in the rafters (Courtesy of Verndogs via Flickr)

Eastern Conference Finals
Playoffs Record: 8-9

The 1997 NBA playoffs were the first time the Heat made it past the first round of the playoffs. They were led by a flashy Tim Hardaway and a rim-protecting Alonzo Mourning. In the first round they beat the Orlando Magic in an in-state playoff battle 3 to 2. The second round would be harder to get by as they were taken to seven games by the New York Knicks. In the Eastern Conference finals, they met an immovable force in the Chicago Bulls at the peak of Michael Jordan’s excellence. The Heat lost the series four to one to the eventual champions.

Miami Heat vs. Toronto Raptors (Courtesy of Sean Marshall via Flickr)

Second Round
Playoffs Record: 7-7

In only the second year after the big three were dismantled, the Heat were back in the playoffs and hoping to surprise people in these playoffs. They had a difficult first round that went to seven games, but they did come out victorious against their opponent the Charlotte Hornets. An aging Dwyane Wade took over the series, helping to lead the Heat to the win. In the second round, the Heat were matched against the Toronto Raptors. This series was gritty and tough, with both teams playing through their big men. It went all the way, as the Raptors eliminated the Heat in seven games.

Miami Heat Logo (Courtesy of Bob B. Brown via Flickr)

Second Round
Playoffs Record: 6-4

With the start of the new Millennium, the Miami Heat made it to the second round of the playoffs. The team started off strong as they swept the Detroit Pistons. In the second round, the team faced off against the New York Knicks. The series ended in the Knicks favor as the team lost game seven. The series could have gone either way as four games were decided by five points or less.

Pacers eliminate Heat in 2005 Playoffs (Courtesy of Michael Tipton via Flickr)

Second Round
Playoffs Record: 6-7

The 2004 Miami Heat were young and had something to prove. The team made it to the second round of the playoffs in a rocky run that saw win the first round in seven games.  In the next round they saw the number-one seeded Indiana Pacers. The team was too much for the young Heat to handle, as they only won two games to the Pacers four.

I am currently a major in Broadcast Media. I have worked for the Caplin News and the school's newspaper, PantherNOW.