#1 MIAMI HEAT VS. #3 INDIANA PACERS
MIAMI HEAT FRANCHISE FACTS:
Location: Miami, Florida
Stadium: American Airlines Arena
Conference: Eastern Conference
Division: Southeast Division
Rivals: New York Knicks
Dancers: Heat Dancers
Notable Players: Dwyane Wade; LeBron James, Chris Bosh
Miami Heat Championship Titles: 2
Miami Heat Conference Titles: 2
Miami Heat Playoff tickets
Miami Heat Season Preview History
MIAMI HEAT EXPERIENCE:
The Miami Heat joined the NBA in 1988 as one of three expansion teams along with the Charlotte Hornets and Orlando Magic. While Miami was home to a professional team called the Floridians during the ABA days, this was the first time that NBA basketball had come to the Sunshine State. Like most expansion teams, the Heat struggled during their first few years, but started to build a solid foundation through the draft by picking up Michigan standout Glen Rice and Syracuse stars Sherman Douglas and Rony Seikaly. During the 1991-92 season, the Heat snuck into the playoffs with a 38-44 record, but fell victim to the Chicago Bulls, who were in the midst of the beginning of their dynasty.
The 1993-94 season was the first winning record that the Heat posted in their history with a 42-40 record. After taking an early 2-1 lead on the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the playoffs, the Heat fell in five games. The 1994-95 season would prove pivotal for the squad, as they stumbled to 32-50 and began a major overhaul of the roster.
The Heat's master stroke that changed their future was the signing of Coach Pat Riley from the New York Knicks before the 1995-96 season. Riley set about building a contender from scratch and signed center Alonzo Mourning, who gave Miami an instant presence in the paint. The team made a series of trades at the deadline during the middle of the season and acquired Tim Hardaway, Chris Gatling, Walt Williams, Tyrone Corbin and Tony Smith. The look of the squad soon changed significantly and they wound up being one of the biggest surprises in the league that year. However, the Heat were on the wrong side of history, as they soon faced the juggernaut Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs and were swept handily in three games.
The Heat made consistent appearances in the playoffs during the late '90s and early 2000s, but it wasn't until 2006 that the team made it over the hump. Behind the superb play of Dwayne Wade and Shaquille O'Neal, the Heat won their one and only championship against the Dallas Mavericks in six games. With the signing of LeBron James and Chris Bosh before the 2010-11 season, the Heat are poised to return to the NBA Finals and will continue to be a force to be reckoned with in the Eastern Conference.