MIAMI -- When 76ers big man Joel Embiid drilled a 26-foot step-back three with just over a minute remaining on Saturday night, the Heat appeared to be sunk. They'd battled, as always, but it just wasn't their night. 

The Sixers, namely Embiid and Trey Burke, were hitting tough shot after tough shot. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo were ice cold en route to finishing a combined 12-for-35 from the field. Duncan Robinson, who'd been filling it up from 3-point land, had been out of the game since the 6:08 mark of the fourth quarter with five fouls. Kendrick Nunn, averaging 16 points a game for the season, had just three field goals. Butler missed two free throws in the final 25 seconds of regulation of a one-possession game. 

Yet somehow, Miami won the game. 

It took a minor miracle to get there. Embiid gifted Miami a late opportunity when he didn't pass out of a triple-team with the Sixers up two and less than 20 seconds to play, allowing Butler to eventually poke the ball from Embiid's grasp, which led to a Tyler Herro 3-pointer on the other end that sent the Miami crowd through the roof. 

The Sixers pulled off a miracle of their own to get the game to overtime, where the Heat finally finished them off 117-116. It was Miami's sixth overtime game of the season. They're 6-0. A few more numbers to consider: The Heat are 11-3 in four-point games in the final four minutes, 10-2 in three-point games in the final three minutes, 9-1 in two-point games in the final two minutes, and 8-1 in one-point games in the final minute. 

Before beating Philly by one, in overtime, on a back-to-back, Miami beat Indiana by one and Utah by three during its most recent five-game homestand. Throw out one 15-point win over the Knicks, and four of the heart-attack Heat's last five wins have come by an average margin of 2.2 points. 

Indeed, games at American Airlines Arena are becoming more than just games this season. They're events. Fifteen minutes after the Philly win, thousands of fans were chanting "Let go Heat!" as they made their way through the concourse. There's something happening around this Miami team. It's been happening all season, really, but it's perhaps been more of a "nice story" for a team that wasn't necessarily expected to register in the contender conversation. At this point, there's almost no way to keep them out. 

"Hell yeah we're for real," Meyers Leonard told CBS Sports. "Look around this locker room. We've got players, man. We've got Jimmy Butler, a superstar who's getting everyone involved. We've got guys who can defend their ass off. We've got shooters. I think, too, this is an organization that brings the best out of people. Call it culture. Call it what you want. But this organization is one that expects discipline, work ethic, character, and competition. 

"You have to compete here, man," Leonard continued. "Every single day. And that brings out the best in guys. So I think there's a lot of that, where you're seeing the best that guys have to offer because of their own hard work, of course, but also because of the organization and the environment that brings that out. Again, look around. Tell me what this team doesn't have."

A skeptic would probably say what the Heat don't have is a second superstar in a league where two-star attacks are, in most cases, a prerequisite to contention. Then again, there are exceptions. The Raptors won the whole thing last year with one star. Butler is not Kawhi Leonard, and Miami's supporting cast probably isn't quite what Toronto boasted last season. But it's close enough to start a conversation. 

To Leonard's point, the Heat are pretty stacked across the board. Perhaps it's too easy to think of a team that relies heavily on guys like Duncan Robinson, Derrick Jones Jr. and Kendrick Nunn, all of whom were undrafted, as an underdog. But as Jones Jr. told CBS Sports, "nobody in this locker room looks at it that way."

"We're all here, and it don't matter how we got here. We're here," Jones Jr. said. "Every person in this locker room is willing to work. We all push each other. We're all willing to be criticized and get better. And I think we're starting to see what we can be."

Entering play on Monday, Miami is 24-8, good enough for No. 2 in the East, with a top-10 offense and net rating, and a defense that sits just outside at No. 11. They are No. 8 in assists per game. Perhaps most importantly, they own the 3-point line on both ends. Per Cleaning the Glass, Miami is shooting 39.1 percent from deep as a team, which is No. 2 in the league On the flip side, Miami's opponents are only shooting 33 percent from deep, which is the No. 2 defensive mark in the league. 

These are telltale markers of a contending team, top-10s all the way around the stat page, highly versatile on both ends, elite from the 3-point line with a superstar leading a balanced, inclusive attack that can strike from anywhere. If predictability is the death of a basketball team, the Heat are a wild card. Any one of six or seven guys can be Butler's wingman on any given night. 

There are no set lineup deployments, especially in crunch time. Spoelstra will sometimes play the matchups and sometimes play the hot hand. He'll throw a zone defense at you, and he'll invert the positioning with the longer defenders up top and the guards stunting from the block. With an MVP candidate in Butler and a former All-Star in Goran Dragic on the court, Spoelstra will, and recently has, run crunch-time offense through 19-year-old Herro, who is a budding star. 

The same can obviously be said for Adebayo, who should be an All-Star lock this season. Dragic can still get 20 any night, and he's on a bench unit that ranks sixth in points per game and fourth in 3-point percentage. Leonard is having a terrific season, shooting 46 percent from beyond the arc, just shy of Duncan Robinson's 48 percent. Those numbers rank No. 4 and No. 7 in the league among all players who are attempting at least two 3-pointers a game. 

You start to add all this up, and as Leonard said, hell yeah the Heat are for real. Does that mean they can actually contend for a conference crown? We'll see. You can't rule out a deadline trade, and you have to remember they're doing a lot of this without Justise Winslow, who hasn't played since December 4th with a back strain that the Heat are now classifying as a bone bruise. When Winslow gets back, this defense could go from versatile to downright scary. 

In the playoffs, it's about matchups. Philly matches up well with Milwaukee. You start to forecast potential series, and it's not out of the question that the Sixers end up in the No. 4 spot and somehow take out the No. 1 Bucks in the second round. Are you telling me the Heat couldn't beat the Sixers in a conference finals? They've beaten them twice in their past five games. 

Of course, it's way too early to start predicting playoff matchups. It's just to make the point that there are reasonable scenarios in which this Heat team we all thought was kind of fun but not ultimately threatening could actually do some real damage come April and May. And with each one of these edge-of-your-seat victories, those scenarios are getting easier and easier to see.