By Cody Williams @TheSizzle20 on May 5, 2014
The Miami Heat were the only team to sweep their opponents in the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs. They’ve been resting while five other teams that advanced played the full seven games in the first round. However, there are some that seem to think that they aren’t the favorites to take the title. Why is the championship still theirs for the taking?
We talked all season about how the East was weak and how the only team that stood in the way of Miami in the conference was the Indiana Pacers. Now the Pacers are looking mighty vulnerable, making the Heat’s path to the Finals seem easier than it’s ever been.
The Heat’s defense hasn’t been as stifling this season as it had been in previous years, but don’t think that they still can’t be an absolutely suffocating defensive unit. When it comes to needing big stops to finish a game or get a run started, the Heat have and will continue to thrive.
Obviously it’s now the postseason, but that’s a very important point when it comes to Miami. For much of the regular season this team was just coasting. Now that it’s playoff-time and we get into the heart of the postseason, expect to see their effort turned up more than a few notches.
While guys like Michael Beasley and Greg Oden haven’t been the factors as planned, Miami’s bench is dangerous for the mere fact that they have a plethora of guys that can come in and get hot to change a game. That’s a valuable trait in the playoffs.
What’s continually overlooked with the Heat is how quality of a coach that Erik Spoelstra is. People often write him off because there’s so much talent on the roster, but he’s continued to adapt and adjust successfully throughout the past few seasons. That and his experience in the playoffs certainly work in this team’s favor.
You could argue that Dwyane Wade is still a little banged up, but he’s played well and this team is in very good health for the postseason. Honestly, a team in the East’s only chance seems to be if a key figure for Miami were to get hurt.
Chris Bosh continues to be the forgotten piece of the Big Three. However, Bosh continues to be productive, the glue in the middle for this team, and arguably their most consistent defender. Bosh will once again be a huge factor in the Heat’s success.
Save for every team in the postseason except the Spurs, the Heat have been here and done well before. When you get into environments like this one, knowing how to handle and survive that type of pressure is monumentally important.
Obviously the rest of sweeping their first round series is going to be important for Miami, but also the rest that guys like Wade have received throughout the season is going to be a big help to this team as well. After three straight seasons of playing all the way through the Finals, any amount of rest is enormous for them.
He might not be the MVP, but LeBron is still the best basketball player on the planet and (brace for obviousness) only the Heat have him. When you can walk into a series and say “we’ve got LeBron,” that’s pretty much the ultimate trump card.
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