By Kevin Major @KevinMajor_Rant on April 13, 2014
With the 2014 NBA Playoffs just around the corner, the Miami Heat are preparing for another long postseason run. The back-to-back champs will likely hold the second seed in the Eastern Conference after allowing the Indiana Pacers to reclaim the top spot. Regardless of their seed, the Heat will be one of the favorites to win the title. Here are five reasons why Miami will three-peat in 2014.
Unlike the first year of the Big Three era, the Miami Heat now have a deep bench of quality players. Guys like Chris Andersen, Ray Allen and Shane Battier are all valuable members of Miami's rotation who have made key contributions to past Heat championship runs. The Heat's strong bench will be a difference-maker against teams who have inferior second units, like the Indiana Pacers.
Miami has a tendency to coast through the regular season, especially for long stretches of games after the All-Star break. However, when the Heat have a big game that requires them to take their play to another level, they have the ability to flip "the switch" and ramp up their intensity and effort. When the Heat enter this extra gear, they are extremely difficult to beat.
The Miami Heat have reached the NBA Finals in each of the last three seasons. These long playoff runs equate to 67 games worth of postseason experience. This experience has allowed the Heat's core group to become comfortable playing with one another on a big stage. The Heat's veteran, playoff hardened group will not crumble under the pressure of the postseason.
Dwyane Wade has sat out 28 games this season, a vast majority of which were part planned as part of a maintenance program designed to keep Wade's knees healthy for the playoffs. Wade recently returned to the lineup after sitting out nine games and looked explosive on both ends of the court. The rest program has given Wade fresh legs for the playoffs, which is bad news for Miami's opponents.
The Heat have one thing going for them that no other team in the NBA has: LeBron James. James has had another phenomenal season, averaging 27.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 6.4 assists per game. In the playoffs, James orchestrates the Heat's offense and guards the opponent's best player for 40-plus minutes per game. James has embraced this responsibility and carried the Heat to two straight titles. There's no reason to believe he won't do it again.
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