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Alejandro Solana, Miami Heat Pre/Post Host

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb
The Truth Network Radio
June 1, 2023 7:07 pm

Alejandro Solana, Miami Heat Pre/Post Host

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb

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June 1, 2023 7:07 pm

Alejandro Solana joined Zach to preview Game 1 of the NBA Finals and discuss the importance of Jimmy Butler to the Heat. 

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Alejandro, what's happening?

PEPAS would have been good, but I'll feel better if we're hearing PEPAS tonight on my postgame show. That's the goal tonight. So the Heat being here, when did you realize that this Heat team had something special in them? Was it just right after that Bucs series when they found a way to eliminate the one seed in five games?

I think that's exactly what it was, right? Because let's not forget, they lose the first playing game. And then they're playing the Chicago Bulls two days later, second playing game. And they were down five points in the fourth quarter at one point.

And with three minutes to go, they were down three at home. And I think a lot of people forget that, how close this Heat team was to not making the postseason. And everybody knows right now, the Miami Heat ended up as the eighth seed. And it was mostly because up and down all season long, their three point shooting was towards the bottom part of the league. And the play we've seen from Jimmy Butler in the postseason wasn't exactly the play you saw from him during the regular season. It was actually Bam Adebayo as the team's lone All-Star. And this idea of the Miami Heat buying into and kind of running back their roster from last year, it was predicated on a lot of the role players that you are seeing now.

Gabe Vincent, Caleb Martin taking that next step. And through an 82 plus two game sample size, that never seemed to take place. But something clicked for this team versus that Bucks series. And it's hard not to point to them overcoming a 16 point deficit in game five on the road with Giannis onto the Kumpo back.

Forcing overtime with Jimmy Butler heroics and then winning that series in overtime in five in Milwaukee. That was the team with one of the best net ratings throughout the regular season. I know Giannis missed two games and he really missed most of the first game.

So you can kind of chalk it up to three games. But overall, that was still one of the better teams in the NBA with Giannis or not. And the Miami Heat on their home floor blew them out in game three, Jimmy Butler heroics again in game four, and something seemed to click there.

And I think that's when, you know, Heat fans realized and I think that the team itself realized that, you know, they could put some special run together. I think they felt really confident against the Knicks. I thought they matched up very well against the Knicks. And most people would say Boston was a more talented team.

I'm not certain I necessarily disagree with that, but there is something to be said about the better overall team coming together. And I think that's what you're seeing right now in route to their seventh ever NBA Finals appearance. When you look back at this run, clearly everyone was shocked and no one gave them a chance up against Milwaukee. The Knicks, I thought that, at least I believed, that the Heat were going to win that series. The Celtics, yeah, obviously everyone did pick the Celtics. Now, headed into this one, I feel as if people respect Miami, where they're saying, you know, they're going to be a tough team, but no one's really given them a shot in this series up against Denver. Has that been a major storyline the last few days when you get ready to dissect this matchup, or is it just, hey, no one's really been given much of a shot the entire postseason, so it just feels normal? Nah, I think people in Miami, they harp on that a lot. They go back to the 3% chance from the four-letter network analytics team versus Boston, and everybody was just chomping at the bit to find out what the percentage chance Miami would get against Denver.

And it was 11%, so I think that's a little bump up from 3%, Zach. But, I mean, people care about that stuff down here. They like the idea that we're underdogs. I think the whole city of Miami, you can go back to the Hurricanes football program when they were at the height of what they were doing, and Sports Illustrated wrote a column, and I'm talking years ago, right?

I was a baby. I was in diapers when this was written about how the Miami Hurricanes football program should be shut down. And I think the city of Miami really does rally around being the underdogs, but I think this team does as well. They like the fact that, you know, people aren't picking them.

But I think this is a little different. We saw them take the Boston Celtics last year to within a shot of beating them in a seven-game series. And, you know, the Denver Nuggets, they've played the Heat really well. I don't think you can focus on the two matchups this season too much because in the second matchup, if you go back, I mean, Jamari Bouye and Orlando Robinson played big minutes for the Heat off the bench. I don't expect you to know who those two guys are. I don't expect any of your audience to know who those two guys are either because they don't even play for the team anymore.

They were on two-way deals. So I don't look too much at the actual matchups from earlier this season. But overall, the Denver Nuggets have been the best team in the postseason. They swept the Lakers and had the two-time MVP who probably should have been the three-time MVP this year as well. So I think it's fair that Denver is the heavy favorite. They have home court advantage.

But I also think that, again, there is something to be said. I don't want to keep going back to it, but there is something to be said about this Heat team knowing that they can accomplish another big hurdle. They're just the third team in the last 35 seasons to be underdogs in all three series that they won going into the NBA Finals.

Only one team was an underdog all the way through the NBA Finals, the Houston Rockets, and ended up winning it. I think Miami's trying to become just the second team in the past 35 years. But again, this is the best team they're going to have faced in the playoffs. And that's having played the Celtics and the Bucks and probably going up against the best player they've gone up against in the NBA playoffs thus far. And that's including Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jason Tatum as well.

Alejandro Solana here with us. When you look at the Heat, we all know their best player is Jimmy Butler. But would you agree for them to win this series, their most important player has to be Bam Adebayo?

I do agree. And you know, a lot of people now have seen Caleb Martin kind of take on a much larger role with this team. I think part of that has to do with the fact that Tyler Herro hasn't been a member of this postseason run because of injury.

He broke his hand in that first game versus Milwaukee. So more scoring opportunities have been there and he's really relished in that role. He's flourished now on the biggest stage and arguably should have been Eastern Conference Finals MVP.

He got several votes, but Jimmy Butler ended up winning it. But look, Bam Adebayo, a lot of people in Miami were very frustrated with his offensive efforts. And you know, kind of the storyline down here, especially amongst fans who are very critical of Bam is that he kind of shrinks offensively in the postseason.

I don't necessarily think that's fair. But there is a large enough sample size now going back to last year's postseason that his offensive game just doesn't translate as well to the postseason when, you know, possessions get harder. The defense is more likely to collapse on you and teams have more time to be able to adjust their coverage from a game-to-game basis and really fixate on what works for them defensively and Bam's had a tough time overcoming it. But on the defensive end specifically, there's nobody in my mind that's more important in this series just because Bam Adebayo is one of the most unique defenders in the league, he can cover one through five. But in this series, do you want him covering one through five, right? Or do you want him just spending time on Jokic? And I think that's going to determine if the Heat can win four games, if they can go in today and steal one, is if he's able to impact the game on literally every single possession.

Think about that. Jokic is probably going to touch the ball on almost 90% of Denver's possessions. The only time he's not is when they're on a fast break and he kind of just hangs out back there because he's too lazy to run up the court and it works for him.

You know, that's no shade at him. Bam Adebayo is going to have to be the focal point for what Miami does defensively. He always has been, but now to an even greater degree, he's going to have to insert himself on every single possession defensively and he's not going to be able to switch as much because that's what Denver is going to be looking for.

It's going to be very difficult for him to adjust to that just because he's so used to switching on to a point guard, switching on to a wing player and being able to slide his feet enough because of how versatile he is. And in this series, Miami doesn't want him to. They want him to stay on Jokic. They want him to obviously help on the weak side when other players are driving to the rim. But if he leaves Jokic open, I mean, this guy has a game from the outside to the mid-range and obviously can put the ball on the floor. And if it's anybody but Bam Adebayo on him, that's a win for Denver. Alejandro Solana, just in terms of what they did for the Heat, not what they've done in other places, where does Jimmy Butler rank in terms of the greatest Miami Heat players of all time?

So I love this question and I'll pull the curtain back. You had texted me about it yesterday and I'm going to give credit to one of the podcast hosts down here. He hosted the Miami Heat podcast. It's one of the more popular Heat podcasts down here.

And one of their hosts, his name is Auff and he's on Twitter, Auff954. He tweeted a couple months ago or maybe just about a month ago after Jimmy Butler was just, you know, doing some crazy stuff in the playoffs. You remember the 50 plus point game and then that game five. He tweeted out something along the lines of LeBron James and Shaquille O'Neal are the two greatest players to ever wear a Miami Heat jersey. And I don't think anybody would disagree with that.

Just individual talent. Those are the two best players to ever suit up for the Miami Heat. But Dwayne Wade and then Jimmy Butler are the two greatest players in Miami Heat franchise history, just in terms of what they've been able to accomplish for the franchise.

And I happen to agree with that. I think it's Dwayne Wade one and now I think it's Jimmy Butler number two. And that's not taking away from LeBron. I think a lot of people think Heat fans are petty with LeBron James.

It's really not the case for the most part. You'll find a couple Heat fans who are still salty LeBron James left, but for the most part and that LeBron won two championships for the franchise. As much as Jimmy Butler has been great. He hasn't won a championship yet. Yeah, but but I feel like LeBron James was was here for four years and then he left and he was never, you know, he was never really considered a Miami Heat player.

When he retires and you know, he goes to the Hall of Fame. He's going to be remembered as a Cleveland Cavalier. Yeah, so I think it's just a little different mentality where, you know, Dwayne Wade is known as a Miami Heat player and Jimmy Butler. I know he's had a couple other stops along the way before he got here, but he wanted to be here. He wanted to come to Miami. And now that he's been here in four seasons, two finals appearances, three Eastern Conference Finals appearances, and he's been everything and more that they can ask for.

But you know how we all buy into this Heat culture aspect and maybe it gets overplayed a little bit too much. But right now, I think it's at the forefront of how this run was possible. And Jimmy Butler embodies that to a to a T. He was doubted coming out of out of college. He was a 30th overall pick in the first round. His story getting to the NBA and growing up is one that, you know, we would need a lot more time to go over. But for those who haven't, you know, read about Jimmy Butler's story, it's a remarkable journey for him. Just just the fact that he had the opportunity to play in the NBA. And then, you know, having to work for for these opportunities, you know, he wasn't just naturally gifted. He truly had to put in the work behind the scenes.

And I think, you know, top down from Pat Riley all the way to there to Eric Spulcher. That's what this Heat team loves players like that who fit into their culture, who fit in and not everybody does. And I think Jimmy Butler, he wanted to be that he wanted to embrace it.

And it's worked out for him probably better than anybody could have expected. I know certainly outside of South Florida, nobody expected this type of run from the Miami Heat when Jimmy Butler joined here. So for that simple fact, in my opinion, he's already on the Mount Rushmore of Miami Heat players.

And I know he doesn't he doesn't want to ring yet. And LeBron James won two again. I'm not throwing any shade at those those four years during the Big Three era. LeBron James easily the greatest player to ever put on a Miami Heat jersey.

And I would I would never debate that. But he left this organization and it never really felt like he wanted to embrace this organization. Jimmy Butler is the antithesis of that. He wanted to be here.

He's embraced it and he's become the face of this organization. You couldn't ask for a successor to Dwayne Wade better than Jimmy Butler. Last thing I'll ask you, not that I'm a big Mount Rushmore guy, but since you brought it up, just players, who are the four players then for you on the Miami Heat Mount Rushmore? Oh, man, you want me to give you the real one or the troll one, because I'll give you a Mario Chalmers every time. Mario Chalmers. OK, give me the real one. Let's get the authentic Alejandro Solano.

Yeah. So I think it's I think it's Dwayne Wade. I think it's Jimmy Butler. I think it's LeBron James. And then the fourth one that you could go one several which way you could go Chris Bosh, everything he meant to this organization over.

And obviously, right. And then I think some people would argue that it would be Chris Bosh or Alonzo Mourning just strictly based on the fact that he won two titles. And so he won one. But let's not forget, Alonzo Mourning didn't win a title in his initial heat run in that first stint with the team. He came back after having to leave the game because of a medical issue and joined forces with Shaq. And and Dwayne was actually a big part of that team off the bench. But also another player that you have to at least mention.

And this is my fourth, Eudonis Haslam. There is not a single era of heat basketball that won championships. And no one would mess with those sculptures, by the way, if Eudonis Haslam's on him because he's the enforcer. Yeah, that Eudonis Haslam was not a part of every single era of basketball.

Now, going back to 2006, the most NBA finals appearances out of any organization since the 06 season is this Miami Heat franchise. And Eudonis Haslam has been a part of it throughout the entire way. I'm really happy for him, by the way, that he gets to on his last year go to an NBA finals. I know he doesn't play.

And people kind of just think of him as a coach on the sideline, which at this point he is. But that dude was a baller. He locked up Dirk Nowitzki in the 06 NBA finals. For those young NBA fans who don't remember, go look it up on YouTube.

There's actually a lot of great stuff. Eudonis Haslam did during the Big Three run. D-Wade convinced Lebron and Bosh and himself to take less money to keep U-D from going to either Dallas or Denver because that's how big of a part of that championship core Wade knew he would be. And he ended up being a big part of it as well. So to me, the Mount Rushmore, Dwayne Wade, Jimmy Butler, Lebron James and Eudonis Haslam. And you could interchange Haslam with Alonzo Mourning or Chris Bosh any day.

And I wouldn't have any issues with it. Alejandro Solana pre and post for the Easter Conference champion Miami Heat radio network. Enjoy these next few weeks and appreciate you doing this as always. Anytime, Zach, appreciate you, man. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-01 20:13:40 / 2023-06-01 20:20:55 / 7

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