Did the Miami Heat actually want the second seed?
Before you start thinking I am crazy to believe the Miami Heat would actually want the second seed instead the first, read through. Of course, no championship contender starts the season saying: “Hey, let’s go for that second seed instead this season.” Nonetheless, after almost 80 games into the season and after the Heat closely monitored what their potential matchups would be until the Eastern Conference Finals, they might actually be satisfied with that second seed in the East. Why?
Brooklyn Nets they are called.
Finishing at the second seed of the conference gives the luxury to Miami to avoid the Brooklyn Nets all the way till the Eastern Conference Finals, if both teams make it thus far. The Nets have turned out to be a nightmare matchup for LeBron James and Co. In fact, they are the only team which has swept a season series against Miami in the LeBron era. So, if I was Erik Spoelstra or Pat Riley and if I was ready to do literally everything in my powers to increase my team’s chances to three – peat, yes I would pick the second seed instead of the first. This might sound crazy but think about it for a second.
The Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers will most probably square off against each other in the Eastern Conference Finals. With the Pacers finishing at the top of the East during the regular season, all Miami had to lose is that Game 7 at home court. Now, the Heat and the Pacers are tied at two games apiece during the regular season series. Nonetheless, the Pacers’ latest victory came in a game Indiana in which the Heat played at a good level and stayed in the game almost throughout its course. The Heat know what they will be facing in a potential seven – game series against Indiana.
All season long, it was the Pacers who badly wanted to secure the top spot and clinch the home court advantage. The Heat appeared to be more confident and certain that they can beat Indy even playing on the road. Judging from the way the two teams have been playing as of lately, it’s fair to say that Miami still holds the upper hand as we head into the playoffs. Indiana has been struggling badly on offense and if they don’t shake things up, it will be difficult for them to even reach the conference finals for their second time in a row.
The Miami Heat fell to the Washington Wizards last night, in a game that LeBron James and Chris Bosh didn’t play, and that handed the first seed in the conference to the Indiana Pacers. Of course, Indy would still have clinched the top seed if it won its final game against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night. Now, even if they lose they will still finish at the top of the conference, so we might see Frank Vogel choosing to rest his starters.
Now, the Miami Heat will meet the Charlotte Bobcats in the first round, a team they have swept in the regular season, so this is for sure a good matchup for them. Their second round matchup will be either the Toronto Raptors, the Chicago Bulls or the Washington Wizards. Whilst any of those teams could post a threat to the Heat, none of these teams are as scary for Erik Spoelstra’s team as the Brooklyn Nets. In short words, if I was the Heat and I was presented with the opportunity to face either the nets or any other team during the postseason, I would avoid the Nets no matter what the other path would be.
Playing against the Brooklyn Nets in a seven – game series during the playoffs is like sailing in unknown waters for Miami. The Nets are the ones to hold the momentum, as they have swept the series. Brooklyn also holds the second best record in the East in 2014. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett know the Heat very well, as they have met them numerous times during the playoffs during their Boston Celtics days. The Nets have a bunch of veterans who can step up and really kill the Heat during the playoffs. They have the players who can play big, hit clutch shots and they are one of the few teams around the league, maybe the only one, which can get the Heat into their own, slow rhythm. One of the Heat’s biggest strengths is taking advantage of turnovers and finishing on the other end. With the Nets playing in a really slow pace, it kind of gets the Heat out of their rhythm. At least, that’s what we’ve seen up to now in the season.
So, Heat fans might justly be disappointed that their favorite team lost the top seed in the East. Nonetheless, they should also feel satisfied that they will meet the Brooklyn Nets no sooner than the Eastern Conference Finals. Instead, it will be the Indiana Pacers who will have to be thrown in this tough fight against Jason Kidd’s group.
Of course, the Pacers got exactly what they wanted, what they have been fighting for since the disappointing elimination last year. Since the Heat knocked them off of the playoffs, the Pacers have made a bunch of moves which were supposed to help them clinch the top seed in the East and they did. So in terms of regular season targets, the Pacers have found success and they can now enter the postseason with confidence. Nonetheless, the toughest part of their course towards the Larry O’Brien trophy is still ahead. Now it’s the time that things get really serious, a time when mistakes won’t be forgiven and there will be no second chances. If the Pacers fail to shake things up, especially on offense, they might have to wait for yet another year before getting a chance to win the championship.