What’s a potential championship run without hurdles, right? It’s part of the reason why the Miami Heat have been watching vintage videos of hard fought playoff series to stay focused.
And what good is a hurdle if it hasn’t beaten you six straight times? Those are the types of thoughts that the Heat must put out there to deflect the fact that — through all of their ups and downs — the Brooklyn Nets have owned them this year.
This is a chance for the Heat to show that their tradition of losing to regular-season powerhouses — like the Chicago Bulls and Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett’s Boston Celtics — then taking them out in the playoffs hasn’t been a three-year fluke. And that once the second round starts, the sense of urgency is at an all-time high because they don’t want the title of failure tied to the finality of their season, again.
It’s also a chance for Chris Bosh and LeBron James to prove why they felt good enough to laugh off the Nets as a playoff threat, when players like Joe Johnson are preaching “we know we can beat ‘em.”
At this point in the playoffs there is no room for excuses about playing down to the competition. Not when the competitor on the other side of the court exposed your inability to close out games for four victories that only totaled a 12-point margin — three of those being one point wins and a double-overtime thriller.
Tomorrow marks 2014’s first true challenge, but only the Heat know if they will finally take things seriously.