As 2022-2023 marks the Miami Heat’s 35th season, the Sun Sentinel presents a series of “5 in 35” reflections from staff writer Ira Winderman, covering all 3 1/2 decades of the franchise.

After opening the series with a look at the five greatest games in team history, five franchise changing momentsteams biggest celebrity fans, the five greatest persons for many years and five famous Heat Liferstoday we take a look at five rivals who have helped define the franchise since its inception in 1988.

1. New York Knicks (1997-2000). Say yes, raise your hand if you weren’t suspended at some point during the height of this part-basketball, part-MMA postseason rivalry? Anyone? Got hands?

No, certainly not as solid as Boston Celtics-Los Angeles Lakers. But in four postseasons, you could say they threw as many punches (actually punches).

The score was 4-3 in the 1997 Eastern Conference semifinals. In the 1998 first round, the Knicks were 3-2. In the 1999 first round, the Knicks were 3-2. And in the 2000 Eastern Conference semifinals, the Knicks were 4-3, and Pat Riley expanded the lineup afterward.

From PJ Brown spinning Charlie Ward like a top. . . for Jeff Van Gundy, who held tight to Alonzo Mourning’s leg, it was a rivalry that had it all. And don’t even get me started on Larry Johnson vs. Mourning.

2. Boston Celtics (2010-12, 2020-22). There were two phases of the rivalry that connected the Big Three era to the modern version of the Heat.

In Act 1, Dwyane Wade, after a 4-1 loss to the Celtics in 2010, declared “I’m not going out like that again” after being eliminated by the Heat in the first round for the second straight time (losing to the Atlanta Hawks in 2009, the first round).

Two months later, the Heat added LeBron James and Chris Bosh, sweeping the Celtics 4-1 in the 2011 second round and then 4-3 in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals. The rivalry heated up again in the 2020 Disney World playoffs as the Heat defeated the Celtics 4-2 in the Eastern Conference Finals, a streak highlighted by Bam Adebayo’s game-saving block on Jayson Tatum late in Game 1.

Then, after a year off, the Celtics won last season’s Eastern Conference Finals, 4-3, in a dramatic series that saw Jimmy Butler score 47 points in a Game 6 victory over the Heat in Boston.

3. Indiana Pacers (2004, 2012-14). There were some sharp elements in this rivalry between the two eras.

First in 2004, during Dwyane Wade’s rookie season, the Pacers knocked the Heat out of the playoffs with a 4-2 victory in the Eastern Conference semifinals after the Heat swept New Orleans in a dramatic seven-game opening round . In two months, Lamar Odom, Brian Grant and Carron Butler will be traded from that Heat roster to the Los Angeles Lakers for Shaquille O’Neal.

Then, during the final three seasons of the Big Three, the Heat knocked the Pacers out of the playoffs each year, 4-2 in the 2012 Eastern Conference Semifinals, 4-3 in the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals and 4-2 in the 2014 Eastern Tournament. final. It was a rivalry that featured Udonis Haslem vs. Tyler Hansbrough, as well as Roy Hibbert’s “verticality principle.”

4. Dallas Mavericks (2006, ’11). During both of those years, the teams met in the NBA Finals, each series with a dramatic outcome.

In 2006, it was Dwyane Wade who willed the Heat to victory, much to the chagrin of Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

In 2006, it was Dirk Nowitzki who led Dallas to victory to end the Heat’s first Big Three season, much to Kubin’s delight.

5. San Antonio Spurs (2013, ’14). Another couple of NBA Finals meetings with different, terrible results.

For the Spurs, Ray Allen’s series-saving 3-pointer for the Heat in Game 6 led to a seven-game sweep of the Spurs, the Heat’s third championship.

Then, the following year, the Spurs got their revenge with a convincing 4-1 series victory that ended the Big Three era, and LeBron James returned to Cleveland as a free agent a month later.

Next: We begin our positional evaluations with the top five quarterbacks in recent years as the franchise turns 35.


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