MIAMI — In the wake of losing out on Damian Lillard, the offseason ended with a thud for the Miami Heat.
Then again, despite unparalleled Eastern Conference success the past four seasons, it’s not as if Erik Spoelstra’s team hadn’t already learned to remain grounded.
In 2020, the trip to the NBA Finals was dismissed as a bubble fraud, with that season concluded in the Disney World pandemic setting.
In 2021, that ridicule only grew, with the Heat swept out of the first round by the Milwaukee Bucks.
In 2022, the Heat’s No. 1 East seed was downplayed as perceived regular-season indifference by other contenders, even as the Heat eventually battled the Boston Celtics within one win (and one Jimmy Butler 3-point attempt) of the NBA Finals.
Then last season, even when advancing to the NBA Finals for the second time in four years, it became more about Giannis Antetokounmpo’s first-round injury and other chips that fell in the Heat’s favor along the way.
So here they stand again, at the intersection of doubt and skepticism, as they prepare for Tuesday’s opening of training camp in Boca Raton at Florida Atlantic University.
Questions? There are plenty.
Answers? We’re about to find out.
— Q: Will it be chip firmly on shoulder?
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