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NBA Miami Heat

5 Must-Watch Miami Heat Games of 2014

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Must-Watch Games of The New Year

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Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

As the entire world celebrates the New Year, NBA fans are celebrating another month closer to April and the postseason. The Association has been on a roller coaster ride and ended the year with many teams spinning in place.

So far, we have seen the Chicago Bulls lose Derrick Rose for another season, the New York Knicks continue their train wreck year, Jason Kidd try to pull a fast one on the referees and that's only the Eastern Conference.

As the East continues to corrode, the West has returned to prominence. The Portland Trail Blazers have surprised everyone with their strong start, the Oklahoma City Thunder are continuing their reign at the top, and the San Antonio Spurs are what we thought they were: fantastic.

It has been a wild and hectic third of the season with many surprises, but the Miami Heat continue to play well as they are on a quest for a third straight championship. It hasn't been the soft and cuddly start that many expected from Miami, but they have managed the injuries and weathered the storm.

LeBron James has continued to be the best player in basketball and has done much of the heavy lifting in South Beach. Dwyane Wade has battled sore knees all season and has been in and out of the lineup while Chris Bosh has struggled to earn his pay.

The good news: It is only January and the defending champions are focused on the playoffs. The bad news: The season is flying by and it is time to start fine tuning. The remaining schedule for the Heat will be difficult with a couple of long road trips and meetings with many of the West's elite. Here are five must-watch Heat games for the New Year. None are part of back-to-backs, so each has the potential to be historic.

Shane Phillips is a Miami Heat Writer for RantSports.com. Follow Shane on Twitter @Smphil01, "Like" him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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5. February 20 at Oklahoma City Thunder

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Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

These two teams have some history, but the biggest question in regards to this game is whether or not Russell Westbrook will be back and healthy. If Westbrook is back and the Heat are at full force, this should be a fantastic game between two very strong squads.

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4. March 6 at San Antonio Spurs

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Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Miami has two meetings in the New Year with the team that nearly erased the existence of the “Big 3.” The San Antonio Spurs will play the defending champs at home. Both will face-off in January, but the March match-up is more important as the season winds down. It could be a preview of the 2014 NBA Finals.

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3. March 16 vs. Houston Rockets

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Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

This will be the second game between the Houston Rockets and the Heat. The two will meet in early March, but it is part of a back-to-back meaning that Wade may miss it. The March 16 showdown should be a great battle as both squads should be at full force. Dwight Howard will be a true test for Bosh and Miami’s frontcourt.

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2. March 24 vs. Portland Trail Blazers

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Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers and the Heat had an instant classic on December 28 when Bosh hit a three-pointer with 0.5 seconds on the clock. James missed the game with a strained groin, so it wasn’t a true test for either team. Barring any injuries in the next two months, the March 24 matchup will be a great game between two of the league’s elite teams.

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1. March 26 at Indiana Pacers and April 11 vs. Indiana Pacers

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Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone and their mother have written in the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat as the only two teams who can win the East. The entire NBA universe is already salivating over an Eastern Conference Finals repeat of last year. With two more games between these powerhouses and the possibility of seven more in the playoffs, we could be lucky enough to see 11 games played between the new rivals. There isn’t much more to say besides instant classic.