Miami does not respect any opponent in the Playoffs

The easiest way to explain what the Miami Heat are doing in the comeback department during these playoffs is to simply compare their numbers to the rest of the league.

Facing a deficit of at least 12 points this postseason:

— The Heat are 7-6.

— The rest of the NBA is 6-59. Set.

“The most important thing for us, we had the will and the belief,” Heat center Bam Adebayo said. “And we keep finding ways to win.”

The opponent doesn’t matter either. Milwaukee, New York, Boston and now Denver in the NBA Finals have found themselves on the wrong end of a Heat rally.

Miami rallied from a 15-point deficit to beat first-seeded Milwaukee in Game 4 and from a 16-point deficit to win the final Game 5; from 12 down to win Game 1 over New York and from 14 down in Game 6 to eliminate the Knicks; they erased a 13-point deficit in Game 1 in Boston and then a 12-point deficit to win Game 2 over the Celtics, and now, a 15-point comeback to win Game 2 of the NBA Finals over Denver.

Sunday night’s rally tied for the fifth largest in a finals game in the last 25 years. The Heat trailed the Nuggets 50-35 with 5 minutes remaining in the second quarter and outscored Denver 76-58 the rest of the way to even the series. The series now moves to Miami, with both teams practicing there on the Tuesday before Game 3 on Wednesday night.

This unlikely story, a team that fell behind in the final minutes of an entry tournament elimination game and somehow made it to the NBA Finals, now has an even crazier plot twist. The eighth-seeded Heat have home-field advantage in the title series over top-seeded Denver in the Western Conference.

“We’ve won on the road before,” Nuggets veteran Jeff Green said after Game 2 in Denver. “I think we understand what is at stake. They did what they were supposed to do. They came here, they parted ways. Now they’re going home, and I think we have to go there worried about Game 3. We can’t worry about Game 4. We have to worry about Game 3.”

What Miami is doing is both historic and completely on-brand for the Heat. There have been four teams in the past 25 years that have seven postseason wins after losing by double digits in one game; Golden State did it last year en route to the NBA title.

The other three teams on that list? The 2011 Heat, the 2012 Heat and now the 2023 Heat, all led by Erik Spoelstra.

“We faced a lot of adversity during the season,” Spoelstra said. “We handled it the right way. … It strengthened us and we developed something of value, which is what we all want. We want to be able to have that privilege of having adversity and being able to overcome it. You get strength from that.”

The effect of all that adversity, like 44 games decided by five points or fewer, the Heat going 28-16 so far in those, is this: They just never think they’re out of a game. Sure, there’s an axiom that in the NBA every team eventually makes a run, and that’s largely true, but the Heat didn’t even raise the surrender flag in Game 1 when trailing by 21 points in the fourth quarter. They cut the lead to nine with 2:34 to play.

And in Game 2, the comeback was not in vain.

Down eight before the quarter, Duncan Robinson and Gabe Vincent, two undrafted guards who were trained through the Heat’s player development program, scored Miami’s first 15 fourth-quarter points. They gave Miami the lead, and the Heat didn’t give it away.

“We just needed to come out with a sense of urgency in that room,” Robinson said afterward. “It was kind of now or never. He started on defense, obviously, and we were able to do a few things from there.”

What made a Game 2 comeback even more unlikely, even for a team that is making rallies seem like an everyday occurrence in the playoffs, is that the Nuggets went 45-3 this season in games in which they led by at least 15 points. And in home games where they led by more than 10 points, they went 38-0.

The Comeback Heat were not intimidated. Heat forward Jimmy Butler says it’s the “I don’t give a damn” thing that kicks in at those times.

“I just think nobody cares on our team. We don’t care what other people think,” Butler said. “We are so focused on what we do well and who we are as a group that, at the end of the day, that’s what we do. Make or miss shots, we’ll be who we are because we’re not worried about anyone else. That’s how it’s been all year, and that’s not going to change.”

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