Being the only team to have swept their opponent out of the first round, the Miami Heat will have at least five more days off before the second round of the NBA Playoffs begin. The other two teams in the Heat’s bracket (the Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets) are currently battling for a chance to play the defending champs, with the Raptors leading 3-2 in the playoff series.
Most members of the Heat organization won’t admit this, but having to face a young Raptors squad in the second round is ideal. Although regular-season series outcomes don’t determine how a team will fair in the playoffs, looking at how the Heat have matched up against both teams this season, it is a no brainer who the defending champs would rather play against in the second round. The Heat swept the regular season series from the Raptors, going 4-0, but against the Nets, the defending champs lost all four games, making the Nets the first team to sweep the Heat in a regular season series since the Big 3 formed in 2010.
Want more proof? How about this: the Heat shot 50 percent against the Raptors collectively this season, while the Nets held the defending champs to just 42 percent from the field. Although the Raptors are the younger team, the Nets have several gritty veterans (Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett especially) who have the ability to not only score in close-game situations, but can also play solid defense against an otherwise lethal Heat offense. These were major contributing factors to how the Nets were able to outlast the Heat in all four games this season.
One thing is for sure, the Heat will be watching the rest of the Raptors-Nets’ series very closely, creating game plans for either team, but secretly rooting for the Raptors to close out the series and advance to the second round. That’s where the Heat will be waiting, ready to continue their domination over a very young and inexperienced Raptors squad.