The Miami Heat made the NBA Finals 2 years ago led by the play of All-Stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Nobody expected them to play as well as they did, and took advantage of “The Bubble” to surprise teams with their excellent two-way play. Of course, they could not continue their success as they were bounced in the first round last season.
But the Heat will be back with a vengeance, adding three solid players to their core rotation including Kyle Lowry, P.J. Tucker, and Victor Oladipo this offseason.
Miami is once again one of the best teams in the East and will be expected to push for a deep playoff run, fighting off competition in their conference from the Bucks and Nets. But how have Miami’s individual players fared against their competition? It is time to discover the Kryptonite of the entire Heat starting lineup, and one name will end up being a constant in that regard: LeBron James.
Kyle Lowry vs. LeBron James 10-32 Record
Kyle Lowry and LeBron James have had countless playoff battles when the former was a member of the Raptors and The King played for the Cavaliers. The Cavaliers took care of business against the Raptors for 3 straight years in 2016, 2017, and 2018. Of course, even Kyle Lowry could not prevent 2 sweeps in 2017 and 2018.
LeBron was at his usual superstar level against Lowry, putting up averages of 26.8 PPG, 6.6 RPG, and 7.9 APG in the 42 games they played each other. Lowry tried his best, averaging 17.0 PPG and 6.5 APG, but he could not withstand the forces of arguably the most dominant forward we have ever seen.
Duncan Robinson vs. Danny Green 3-8 Record
Duncan Robinson is one of the best shooters in the NBA right now, averaging 42.3% shooting from deep over his 3 seasons with the Miami Heat. It is no wonder why Miami re-signed their best shooter to a solid 5-year, $90 million contract. That means that Robinson will be a Miami Heat player until he is 32 years old.
But Robinson could not muster enough threes to help his losing record against the 3-and-D swingman Danny Green. Green is not a star player in terms of his offense, but he can be a lockdown defender when he puts his mind to it. The 3x NBA champion held Robinson to only 35.7% shooting from deep in their regular-season matchups, and 40.4% field-goal shooting in the playoffs.
Jimmy Butler vs. Chris Paul 4-17 Record
Jimmy Butler was born to be a Miami Heat player, from the way he plays the game to his mentality. That is why he helped place the franchise on the map as a title contender after the “Big Three” era. Butler’s improvements on offense and lockdown defense make him a superstar player in his own right. But for some reason, Butler could not find success against future Hall of Famer Chris Paul.
Butler was well below his best against Paul, averaging 14.6 PPG on 39.2% shooting in the regular season and a lowly 15.8 PPG on 44.4% shooting in the postseason. Paul outplayed Butler on almost all occasions, averaging 19.0 PPG and 6.6 APG in their 5 playoff matchups. Phoenix will most likely be in the title hunt in the West once again, so Butler has time to exact his revenge should they meet up.
P.J. Tucker vs. LeBron James 7-22 Record
P.J. Tucker is becoming an invaluable piece to any championship roster because he plays excellent perimeter and interior defense while doing the dirty work that nobody wants to do. There is a reason Tucker started for the Milwaukee Bucks last year en route to the NBA championship.
But there is no denying Tucker does not have the superstar talents of LeBron James, a player who already has a winning record against Lowry, the Heat’s starting point guard. LeBron won 22 out of the 29 games against Tucker, averaging 25.3 PPG in the regular season and 30.3 PPG in the playoffs. Tucker will be there to bother the opposing team’s best forwards, but based on past evidence, that has not worked against The King.
Bam Adebayo vs. LeBron James 2-9 Record
Once again, LeBron James is the Kryptonite of a Miami Heat player. Bam Adebayo has developed into a bonafide All-Star with Miami, making an All-Star Team and 2 All-Defensive Teams so far in his young career. But in 11 meetings with LeBron James, Adebayo has lost 9 times while getting outplayed on both ends of the floor.
James holds averages of 28.0 PPG and 8.9 RPG in the regular season compared to Bam’s averages of 11.7 PPG and 8.6 RPG and turned it on even more in the playoffs. LeBron averaged 30.3 PPG and 13.0 RPG in the playoffs while Adebayo could only average 15.3 PPG and 6.3 RPG. The Heat are not scared of anybody, but they would prefer not to run into LeBron James at any point in the upcoming playoffs.
Victor Oladipo vs. Stephen Curry 1-10 Record
Victor Oladipo is not healthy, and that means he could be out for much of the 2021-2022 season. But when he is on the court, Oladipo is one of the best two-way guards in the NBA and has greatly improved his game in terms of passing and scoring. Miami will certainly hope the 2-time All-Star can return to the floor as soon as possible.
Stephen Curry, the greatest shooter who ever lived, has a winning record against the Heat’s 6th man. Curry has an average of 27.6 PPG on a sensational 49/0% shooting from the three-point line over his 10 games against Oladipo, while the defensive guard only averaged 15.8 PPG. Miami will hope Victor can return to the floor because his defense will be useful against the game’s best perimeter players including Stephen Curry.
**Records courtesy of StatHead**
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