The Miami Heat ranked in the top-10 in NBA Finals appearances since first coming into the league in 1988. The team is tied with the Chicago Bulls, and San Antonio Spurs with six appearances in the championship game. The Heat is nearly half as old as the Detroit Pistons and has one less appearance in the Finals. It goes to show how steady this franchise has developed into a title contender over the years.
The Heat remains in hot pursuit of returning to the Finals this season after winning the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. The team also had a run of four straight appearances in the Finals from 2011 to 2014, as well as three championships. In the regular season, their success has mirrored their postseason success as well.
This is the season-by-season and playoff record of the Heat against every team.
Atlanta Hawks 73-57 (Regular Season), 9-8 (NBA Playoffs)
The Hawks led the all-time series up to 2004. That included winning 10 of the first 11 meetings. After 2004, the series was deadlocked at 30-30, but the Heat have taken off the take command of the series. That included a 10-game winning streak from 2004 to 2006. That also included a nine-game winning streak during the LeBron years.
Despite the Heat owning the overall lead head-to-head, the Hawks have won two playoff series. In 1994, the Hawks ousted the Heat in the first round, as well in 2009 in a seven-game series. The Heat won their first playoff series against Atlanta this year when the team defeated the Hawks in five games in the first round.
Boston Celtics 51-78 (Regular Season), 13-10 (NBA Playoffs)
The Heat lost their first 10 meetings with the Celtics and was once 20 games below .500. With that said, the Heat clawed their way to trailing 40-29 in 2005, but the Celtics used two different eight-game winning streaks in two different decades to pull away. When the big three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh were together, the Heat never won more than two straight games.
The playoffs saw some heated moments. In 2010, the Celtics eliminated the Heat in the first round. The following year, it was the first year with the big three, and the Heat eliminated Boston in the second round. The 2012 Conference Finals saw Miami win the series in seven games and then ruin a friendship amongst the Boston big three. In 2020, the Heat again eliminated Boston in the Conference Finals in six games.
Brooklyn Nets 78-55 (Regular Season), 12-2 (NBA Playoffs)
The Nets led this series up to 1997, when the Heat tied the series at 21-21. The series would then be deadlocked at 34-34 in 2004. The difference-maker would be a 13-game winning streak from 2009 to 2013 by Miami. Since then, Miami has controlled this series each season.
Miami has never lost to the Nets in the playoffs, which has included meeting three times. The Heat eliminated the Nets in back-to-back seasons in 2005 and 2006. The team met again in 2014. The last two meetings were both in the conference semifinals.
Charlotte Hornets 71-46 (Regular Season), 8-6 (NBA Playoffs)
The series was mildly competitive from 1991 to 2005 when the series was 28-28. The difference-maker in this series was the big three of James, Wade, and Bosh. From 2010 to 2014, the Heat defeated the Bobcats/Hornets 16 straight times. The first time Charlotte beat Miami was the first game without James.
The Hornets won one playoff series win. That came in 2001 when the team swept Miami. The two teams met in the 2010s. The Heat swept the Hornets in 2014 in the first round. In 2016, the two teams went the distance in the first round as Miami defeated the team in seven games, ruining Kemba Walker’s magical season.
Chicago Bulls 62-60 (Regular Season), 13-18 (NBA Playoffs)
It was not until this past February that Miami took the reins on the all-time series for the first time in franchise history. The Bulls led the series to December 11, 2021. The Heat swept the Bulls this season in four games, which helped the team finally get over the hump in this competitive series.
The playoffs are a bitter rivalry between the two teams. In the 90s, Michael Jordan led the Bulls past the Heat in 1992, 1996, and 1997. The 1997 series was in the Conference Finals. The Heat eliminated the Bulls in 2006 on route to winning their first championship. The most polarizing series came in 2011 when the Bulls were ousted by the Heat in the Conference Finals when Derrick Rose was coming off winning the MVP Award.
Cleveland Cavaliers 74-48 (Regular Season), 0-0 (NBA Playoffs)
The series was tied 17-17 in 1997, but once the Heat took the lead, it was game over. The Heat have lost to the Cavaliers just 31 times in the regular season in the last 25 years. Their best run of success came from 12 straight wins from 2011 to 2014, which were consequently the years that James played for the Heat and not the Cavaliers.
The two teams have never met in the playoffs. When James left the Cavaliers, the team took on a massive rebuild. It would have been nice to see a James and Wade playoff series when the two teams played in the mid-2000s, though.
Dallas Mavericks 37-34 (Regular Season), 6-6 (NBA Playoffs)
The Mavericks led this series through 1995 before the Heat tied the series in 2007. However, the Mavericks used a 14-game winning streak from 2004 to 2010. However, the Heat managed to tie the series at 30-30 in 2017 and then won six straight to retake the lead.
The two teams have met in the NBA Finals two times. The first time came in 2006 when the Heat was led by Finals MVP Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal. The duo led the team past Dirk Nowitzki in six games. Five years later, the Mavericks got their revenge as Finals MVP Nowitzki led his squad past the big three of James, Wade, and Bosh in their first NBA Finals together.
Denver Nuggets 34-36 (Regular Season), 0-0 (NBA Playoffs)
One would not think that this would be a rivalry, but it makes a good case for it on paper. This series was recently tied back in 2012, but both teams cannot find separation from each other. The longest winning streak by each team is only four games. The most recent is Denver right now, which is riding a four-game win streak.
The two teams would need to meet in the NBA Finals to play in the playoffs. If Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. were healthy, it’s something that we might have seen this year. The Heat is competing for a spot in the final four. If healthy, Denver might have had a squad just as good to be there too.
Detroit Pistons 65-56 (Regular Season), 10-6 (NBA Playoffs)
The Pistons led the series up to 1996. After that, the two teams battled to a 32-32 tie in 2006. Then, the two teams split the next 20 games to remain tied in 2012. Since then, the Heat have owned a 23-14 record over the last 10 years.
The first time the two teams met in the playoffs was in 2000. The Heat swept the series in the first round. In 2005, The Pistons returned to the NBA Finals and knocked off a young Wade and a newly acquired Shaq in seven games in the Conference Finals. The two teams met again in 2006, this time the Heat winning in six games.
Golden State Warriors 32-35 (Regular Season), 0-0 (NBA Playoffs)
The Warriors led this series up to 2008. At the time, the series was deadlocked 21-21. For eight years, the Heat led the series until the Warriors tied it up in 2016 at 27-27. Since then, the Warriors and Heat have traded two three-game winning streaks, with the Warriors winning the last two games.
There is a very real possibility that the Warriors and Heat will meet in the NBA Finals. The two teams have never met in the playoffs, and the Finals would be the only chance. The Heat just qualified for the Conference Finals, while the Warriors are in the mix. If both can make it out, it would be an epic, first-time meeting.
Houston Rockets 37-33 (Regular Season), 0-0 (NBA Playoffs)
The Rockets held command of this lead up to 2019. From 2010 to 2013, the Heat used a seven-game winning streak to pull closer. The difference-maker has been the last four games, which the Heat have all won.
The two teams have never met in the playoffs as it would require both teams to make the NBA Finals. The Rockets have not made the NBA Finals since 1995. The Heat made the Finals in 2006, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2020 since then. Only a handful of years might the Rockets be able to make a push at the same time.
Indiana Pacers 53-70 (Regular Season), 18-11 (NBA Playoffs)
There has been only one time that the Heat has led this series, and that was after the first game. After leading the series 1-0, the Pacers tied the series and then eventually took grasp of the lead and never looked back. The biggest difference was from 2002 to 2005 when the Pacers won 12 straight games. Outside of that, the Heat and Pacers have battled back and forth.
The playoffs have seen some intense series. In 2004, the Pacers eliminated Dwyane Wade in his first attempt at the playoffs. Eight years later, the two teams met in the second round. In 2013 and 2014, the two teams met in the Conference Finals. All three times, the Heat eliminated Indiana. Their most recent meeting came in 2020, where the Heat swept the Pacers in four games.
Los Angeles Clippers 37-30 (Regular Season), 0-0 (NBA Playoffs)
When the Heat joined the NBA, the Heat won seven of the first eight meetings. That included a stretch of nine straight wins from 1995 to 2001. The Heat never let up with Wade on the team. After James’ final season in 2014, the Heat led the series 32-19. Since then, the Heat have won just five games.
In 2020, there was a chance that this could have been the NBA Finals matchup. The Clippers held a 3-1 series lead in the semifinals but blew three straight games to the Nuggets. The team would have had to beat the Lakers in the Conference Finals, but who knows? The Heat made it to the NBA Finals, so it’s interesting to think of who would have won.
Los Angeles Lakers 30-38 (Regular Season), 2-4 (NBA Playoffs)
The Lakers won 10 straight against the Heat when Miami joined the NBA. When Wade was drafted, the Lakers held a 22-9 lead. Since then, the Heat have turned it around. The longest winning streak was seven games from 2013 to 2015. Give this a few more years, the Heat might overtake the series lead sooner than later.
The first playoff meeting came in the 2020 NBA Finals. The Lakers jumped to a 3-1 lead. In Game 5, the Heat used some magic from Jimmy Butler to stay alive, but the Lakers closed out the series in Game 6. The former Heat player James, who won two Finals MVPs, won Finals MVP against his former team.
Memphis Grizzlies 28-23 (Regular Season), 0-0 (NBA Playoffs)
The Grizzlies have never led the series. The longest winning streak is five games, which is by the Heat. That came recently with the Heat winning five straight games from 2017 to 2019. With that said, the Grizzlies have won four of the last five games. With a solid core on both teams, this will be a competitive series for years.
Both teams are playing in the conference semifinals. Had Ja Morant not sustained an injury, there was some belief the team could beat the Warriors. Instead, the Heat are pushing towards the NBA Finals while the Grizzlies are on their last leg.
Milwaukee Bucks 72-49 (Regular Season), 8-5 (NBA Playoffs)
The Bucks led the series up to 1994. From 1993 to 1997, the Heat won 17 games in a row, which included a stretch of 22 wins in 23 games. The Bucks have never won more than five straight against the Heat during the regular season.
The Heat and Bucks have played each other three times in the last 10 years. The first meeting came in 2013 when the Heat won four straight games. In 2020, the Heat won four games in five to eliminate the Bucks in the semifinals. Last year, the eventual 2021 champions in Milwaukee swept the Heat in the first round.
Minnesota Timberwolves 34-30 (Regular Season), 0-0 (NBA Playoffs)
The Timberwolves led the series 3-2, but seven straight wins helped the Heat overtake the lead. The Heat won seven straight games during the big three eras as well. Minnesota has steadily hung around with the Heat, including winning three of the last four games.
The playoffs would need to feature a matchup in the NBA Finals. There has not been a time when these two worlds have synchronized together. In 2004, the Timberwolves had their best shot, but the Heat bounced in the earlier rounds. It would have to be a series done in the future.
New Orleans Pelicans 23-20 (Regular Season), 4-3 (NBA Playoffs)
When the Pelicans came into the league, the Heat had been around long enough. However, the Heat lost their first four games. The series was tied 7-7 in 2006 and then 13-13 in 2013. Following the correct trend of six years, the series was once again tied 19-19 in 2019. The Heat have won the last four games to take the overall lead.
In their earlier stages, the Pelicans were a member of the Eastern Conference. In the 2004 playoffs, the two teams played in a seven-game series in the first round. The Heat gave rookie Dwyane Wade his first series win once the team clutched out Game 7.
New York Knicks 64-66 (Regular Season), 15-14 (NBA Playoffs)
There was a time when the Knicks dominated this series. Midway through the 90s, the Knicks held a 30-9 lead. Since 1996, the Knicks have not been able to replicate that success. The Heat used two different seven-game winning streaks to pull close. In the last six games, the Heat have won five times.
The two teams have met in the playoffs frequently. In 1997, the Heat won in seven games, while the Heat won a best of 5 series in 1998 and 1999. The following year, the Heat won the 2000 semifinals in seven games. The last time the two teams saw each other in the playoffs was in 2012, when the Heat won in five games.
Oklahoma City Thunder 28-40 (Regular Season), 4-1 (NBA Playoffs)
Gary Payton took care of the SuperSonics during the 90s. At the end of 2000, the Heat trailed the series 21-5. From 2007 to 2016, the Heat clawed their way back to trail 34-22. With that said, the Thunder won six straight over the Heat despite Durant leaving the team. For now, the Heat have won the last four meetings.
In the playoffs, the two met in the 2012 NBA Finals. The young trio of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden rose to fame. After winning Game 1, the world went crazy, but the Heat won four straight to help LeBron win his first championship.
Orlando Magic 73-57 (Regular Season), 2-3 (NBA Playoffs)
The Magic led the series after their first meeting ever. Since then, the Heat have never trailed. The Magic tied the series in 1997 at 16-16. The Heat used an eight-game winning streak, but the Dwight Howard years pulled this series as close as 40-43. However, the big three years matched with a 10-game winning streak.
The one playoff meeting came in 1997. After taking a 2-0 lead, the Magic battled back to win two more to force a Game 5 in a best of 5 series. The Heat won Game 5 by a score of 91-83 to move on to the second round.
Philadelphia 76ers 67-64 (Regular Season), 8-7 (NBA Playoffs)
The Heat trailed in this series every season up to 2015. It wasn’t until then that the Heat began to control this series. The best stretch of success for Philadelphia was winning the first 11 meetings once the series began. The James, Bosh, and Wade years were very fruitful as that combination helped the Heat beat the team 15 times in a row.
The playoffs have featured three meetings since 2013. The first matchup was in the first round when the Heat won in five games. In 2018, the 76ers won in five games. This year, the two teams are battling back and forth for a spot in the Conference Finals. No matter what, someone will lead the playoff series by the end of it.
Phoenix Suns 30-37 (Regular Season), 0-0 (NBA Playoffs)
The Heat have never led a series against the Suns. The Suns starting the series with a 16-0 record and a 20-4 mark might have helped. In the last 20 years, the Suns have won 17 times, which is less than once per season. The best stretch of success came from 2010 to 2016, when the Heat won 12 consecutive games.
There is a real possibility that this could be the 2022 NBA Finals. If the Heat can finish off the 76ers and the Suns finish off the Mavericks, it will put each team in the Conference Finals. With four teams left, only two can move on, which means that their first-ever meeting in the playoffs is a real possibility.
Portland Trail Blazers 26-41 (Regular Season) 0-0 (NBA Playoffs)
This has never been a favorable series for Miami. Portland won 11 straight to open the series and raced to win 17 of the first 18 games. Portland added another five-game winning streak seven years ago. The Heat have made a dent in the series with four wins in the last six games.
In the early 90s, the Trail Blazers made a run to the NBA Finals, but the Heat were a young team. In 2000, the Heat were eliminated by the Knicks in the second round, while the Trail Blazers were beaten by the Lakers. That season would have been the closest these two teams met.
Sacramento Kings 44-23 (Regular Season), 0-0 (NBA Playoffs)
Up to 1997, the series was tied at 10-10, but the Heat have lost just 13 times to the Kings in the last 25 years. The Heat saw a stretch of eight straight wins from 2003 to 2008. After the winning streak was snapped, the Heat would rattle off 10 straight wins up to 2013.
You never want to say, but an NBA Finals with the Heat and the Kings doesn’t seem like it is happening anytime soon. The Heat is trending up, while the Kings haven’t made the playoffs since 2006.
San Antonio Spurs 25-44 (Regular Season), 5-7 (NBA Playoffs)
The Heat have never led this series. In terms of winning percentage, this is the opponent where the team has the least success. In 2002, the Spurs led the series 20-10. Since then, the Spurs have consistently doubled their wins over the Heat. From 2014 to 2017, the Spurs won nine straight to really break it open.
The playoffs featured two meetings in the NBA Finals. The 2013 Finals featured an epic ending. With the Spurs up 3-2 in the series, the team was up by three points in the final seconds. It was the moment where a game-tying three-point shot by Ray Allen sent the game to overtime as the Heat eventually won and in Game 7 too. The following year, the Spurs got their revenge as the team won in five games.
Toronto Raptors 58-38 (Regular Season), 3-4 (NBA Playoffs)
The Raptors have never once led this series against the Heat. The Raptors once tied the series 1-1, but it’s been all Miami over the years. From 1997 to 1999, the Raptors lost eight straight times. The big three years saw the best success. From 2010 to 2014, the Heat beat the Raptors 16 consecutive times.
The playoffs were a different story. With James out of the picture, the Raptors were able to get over the hump. The Raptors made the Conference Finals in 2016 with a seven-game series win. However, the Raptors would meet a familiar face in James, who happened to be with the Cavaliers at this time.
Utah Jazz 32-38 (Regular Season), 0-0 (NBA Playoffs)
Before Wade was drafted, the Jazz owned a 23-8 record over Miami. From 2004 to 2007, the Heat won seven straight to pull within closer. The Heat have used small four-game winning streaks over the years to make this just a six-game deficit.
The playoffs will not feature the two teams unless they are against each other in the NBA Finals. With the Jazz’s future up in the air, it's tough to see if we could see this soon. Had the Jazz played like the one seed last year, with the way the Heat are playing right now, it could have been a possibility.
Washington Wizards 92-44 (Regular Season), 4-0 (NBA Playoffs)
The Wizards battled the Heat to a 7-7 tie, but after 1992 the Heat began to run away with the series. From 1999 to 2001, the Heat won 11 straight. Then, from 2003 to 2006, the Heat won another 12 straight games. Within the next few years, the Heat are going to surpass 100 wins against the Wizards.
The two teams have met in the playoffs one time. That came in the first round of the 2005 playoffs. The Heat closed out the series on the road in Washington with a 99-59 win. At the time, it was Wade and Shaq’s first playoff series together.