May 09, 2014

2014 NBA Playoffs: Miami Heat flexing championship muscles in postseason

As the days of the regular season concluded, the questions pertaining to the Miami Heat's capabilities of three peating did not. Many wondered if Dwyane Wade could maintain a high level of health through another intense and grueling postseason run.

Others inquired if the Heat would be plagued by the extreme mental and physical fatigue that is guaranteed to present itself for any unit hunting down a fourth straight NBA Finals appearance. Throughout the season and more particularly towards the end of the regular season campaign, inconsistencies reared their ugly head, as Miami lost 14 of their last 25 contests.

Miami registered their lowest winning percentage since James branded South Beach as his home, and they lacked the fluidity that made them such a powerhouse ball club.

As the playoffs dawned upon the defending champions, fans and other spectators entertained the thought of Miami faltering in the playoffs, becoming a victim of the defensive juggernaut Indiana Pacers. Others believed Miami may be trumped Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, the savvy veterans who sport the Brooklyn Nets black and whites.

Indiana has continued their late season stumble, and may march into the Eastern Conference Finals battered and bruised not only physically, but psychologically. The Pacers trudged through a tough seven game series with the Atlanta Hawks, and an ongoing and rough battle with the extremely talented Washington Wizards.
In the meantime, Miami made quick work of the upstart Charlotte Bobcats, as the Cats only legitimate offensive force in Al Jefferson saw his production sliced in half due to a devastating foot injury.

Things haven't changed in the second round, as Miami has blitzed out to a 2-0 series lead over the aforementioned Brooklyn Nets. Miami has flipped the proverbial "switch." They are engaged, ferocious and have their mind fixated on the reason LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were paired together; a championship.

That mountain has been climbed twice, as at the end of the last two postseasons the basketball world saw Miami crowned as world champions. Miami hopes to catapult to the top of that mountain for a third consecutive time, being the first team to do so since the 2000-2002 Los Angeles Lakers.

So far in the 2014 postseason, Miami is shutting up all naysayers with a flawless run. Yes, they are flawless, with a 6-0 record this postseason with 5 of those victories being won by 10 or more. 

Simply put, the Heat are flexing their championship chiseled muscles, putting on a dominant performance through the early rounds of the playoffs. The crispness that was absent during the regular season is prevalent now, simply overwhelming the opposition.

Don't believe me? Ask Deron Williams, who was held to 0 points on Thursday night against the Heat. Deron, in what unfortunately has become typical D-Will fashion didn't look completely healthy, awkwardly flipping shots at the basket with minimal lift on some of these heaves. But, credit must be given to Miami, who's stifling defense prevented Williams from netting a single point in the contest. 

Ray Allen stated Deron Williams was "the head of the snake," and the snake that is the Brooklyn Nets slithered sloppily, as Miami was able to prevail yet again. 

Brooklyn had a chance to claim victory, as the game was in close proximity as minutes in the fourth quarter dwindled down. The Nets had an opportunity to strike forcefully, knotting the series at one apiece as the teams headed back to Brooklyn, but that's when Miami's championship play edged out the Nets.

With 6:21 left in the fourth, the Nets Marcus Thorton launched a three point bomb, hoping to give Brooklyn a 80-79 lead, which would have been Miami's first fourth quarter deficit this postseason.

Instead, Thorton's shot was off, as was Brooklyn for the remainder of the contest. A few minutes later, Miami led 85-77, strolling up casually to victory lane as Brooklyn frustratingly realized the magnitude of this defeat. 

Brooklyn had an excellent chance to dethrone the champs for one night in their own building, generating a buzz that has been quite unusual for Miami this postseason. 

What's extremely frightening for Miami is that not one player on their roster had eye popping numbers on Thursday night. LeBron James had 22 points, Dwyane Wade poured in 14, Chris Bosh contributed with 18 points and 6 rebounds and former member of the Boston Celtics "Big 3" Ray Allen chipped in with 13 points, including 3 three pointers.

Miami is in that rhythm that in the past propelled them to championship success. As they continue to look fantastic, the outlook for the remainder of the league starts to get gloomier. Miami is here to remind everyone that they are the defending champions, and their demise is not something that will come easily.

Is Miami the favorite right now? Is a Miami Heat/San Antonio Spurs NBA Finals inevitable? Hit me with thoughts and opinions on Twitter (@wcboyer24) and continue to support The Basketball Society. 

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