The Miami Heat added PJ Tucker in the offseason, and it caught many by surprise. Fresh from helping the Milwaukee Bucks win the title last year, Tucker could not reach an agreement for an extension in Milwaukee. The Heat benefitted from the move, adding another tough defender to an already impressive group.
Miami Heat’s unique communication
Aside from Butler and Tucker, the Heat has Udonis Haslem, Bam Adebayo, and Kyle Lowry. That lineup alone could scare any opposing team’s starting five, but that’s not the main difference between the Heat and most of the league: it’s their communication.
Players need to be on the same page to make it work. Miami’s got a lot of tough defenders and vocal leaders, but they knew their roles well. Wanting to win is everyone’s goal, and there are no sensitive souls in Miami’s locker room.
It’s all thanks to coach Erik Spoelstra and the culture they built in Miami. Recognizing which players fit in the culture already solves half of the problem; the other half is determined if the players actually buy in what the team is trying to achieve collectively.
Tucker and Butler’s past teams
Tucker played with James Harden in Houston. Everything went well until The Beard started to force a trade. The team went to a semi-rebuild, and the small forward joined the Bucks. He was largely credited for changing the team’s mentality during his one-year stint there, which helped Milwaukee win the ring. In the eyes of former player turned NBA analyst Charles Barkley, PJ’s toughness rubbed off on his teammates.
For Butler, he famously challenged the starters in Minnesota and beat them with third-stringers before he requested a trade. Meanwhile, he helped the team reach the postseason in Philadelphia but got traded after only one year. Joel Embiid lamented the move, saying that trading JB was a mistake in light of the Ben Simmons standoff with the Sixers.
This just proves that players must be willing to buy in the culture of the team. Talent alone is not enough, as proven with Butler and Tucker’s former teams. Fortunately, they found a home in Miami, and if they continue their good communication on the court, it will not be surprising if they reach the Finals again sooner than later.