Now that the regular season has officially ended and the playoff brackets are finally set, we can dive right into each potential playoff series matchup and analyze each team accordingly.
The Miami Heat have arguably one the easiest paths through the playoffs, which could result in their fourth consecutive NBA Finals appearance. The Heat were given this luxury not only by playing in the much weaker and inferior Eastern Conference, but also by whom their opponents could potentially be.
With the Heat clinching the second seed in the Eastern Conference, they will face the Charlotte Bobcats in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. Heat fans should breathe easy in this series because the Heat not only swept the Bobcats in the regular season series, but they have also won 11 straight games against the Bobcats dating back to 2011.
This series is a perfect matchup for the Heat. Not only will they be able to get into their true championship-caliber defensive groove, but it will also allow Dwyane Wade to get into a playoff rhythm. Wade has missed almost a third of the regular season, so this is a perfect series for him to get back into his true playoff form.
On the flip side, the Bobcats aren’t exactly a pushover team by any means either. The Heat will absolutely have to respect them in this first-round series. Not only did this team finish the season on a 9-3 run, but the Bobcats had the sixth-best defense in the league, and also have a multiple-time Eastern Conference Player of the Week winner in Al Jefferson anchoring their frontcourt.
The Bobcats will look to abuse the Heat in their weakest area, the paint, throughout this series. Jefferson will have his way with the Heat’s frontcourt if they do not plan accordingly.
This series can go one of two ways for the Heat. Either the Bobcats are swept from the playoff series like how they were during the regular season against the Heat, or the Bobcats steal a game or two and make the Heat work a little harder to get to the second round.
Either way, this series will provide a great opportunity for the defending champs to round their defense into form, give Wade ample playing time to get back into form, and most importantly, show the world that the Heat are ready to win their third straight title.