NBA Playoffs 2012: 5 Vital Keys for the Miami Heat in the Postseason
The massive promise of a championship that was preached when the Miami Heat's Big Three decided to make South Beach their melting pot came up short after losing to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals last year.
That alone left critics to scrutinize the reigning Eastern Conference champions even more. Doubts and questions surfaced regarding the capacity of the Heat to win a championship with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh consisting their core.
But in two weeks, the Miami Heat's chance to shut up their critics begins again. With the NBA playoffs beginning, the Heat are on their way to fulfilling the promise of a championship.
However, the playoffs won't feature any Bobcats or Wizards, which means that the road is worse than Jurassic Park. With all of these considerations and all of the criticisms poured into the postseason, how will the Heat survive?
Let's find out.
Dominate the Interior
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
With Chris Bosh being his usual ruthless self, the Miami Heat's interior titan posts a threat in the playoff tree.
Despite starting Joel Anthony at the 5 position most of the time, the Heat's inside game is mostly dominated by the big men who come off the bench. Udonis Haslem has his own share of interior dominance, averaging 7.1 rebounds per game. Bosh and LeBron James each grab 7.9 boards of the Heat's 41.6 rebounds per night.
From a certain perspective, the Heat's game inside the paint can be considered decent. With 46 points in the paint per night, a majestic 5.4 team blocks and Dwight Howard destroyed, the Miami Heat may have solved their interior dilemmas.
Now, what the coaching staff needs to do is control the center position by rotating the players well at any given night.
Confidence on the Bench
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
The Miami Heat's bench plays a major role for their success.
Erik Spoelstra can always tap the shoulders of Udonis Haslem and Norris Cole, who both contribute decent minutes in the rotation.
Defensively, Shane Battier is also a threat to be reckoned with in the Heat's second unit.
The coaching staff needs to realize that these players are not in the league for nothing. The confidence being gathered by the Heat's second or third units is earned amidst the attention given to their starters.
While it is true that James, Dwyane Wade and Bosh are the core of this team, the Heat's confidence on their bench may lift the pressure off their starters' shoulders, especially when a game comes down to mental warfare.
Destroy the Zone Defense
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
The Heat slow down when the game goes into setup basketball. Their weakness against the zone was exploited by the Dallas Mavericks last year when the Heat settled into defending the perimeters, switching from 3-2, 2-3 or even 1-3-1 zone defenses.
The formula for destroying the annoying zone starts with Dwyane Wade's abilities to cut through the lane and either finish off or create opportunities for his teammates—particularly boys who are strong enough to flush down the lane. LeBron's all-around game may also dig a hole into the center of the Heat's opponent's zone defense.
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Playoff basketball is intensely physical.
James, Wade and the rest of the South Beach boys had their own share of sitting on the bench in a nice suit this season, but this cannot happen if the team wants to be successful in the postseason.
The Heat are not the youngest team in the NBA, and no one on the roster or in the league deserves to sit out on a playoff night. The Heat need to remember that youthful teams play harder than life itself, and the only way for the team to step up with them is properly managing the minutes given to their stars.
LeBron James Must Be LeBron James in the 4th
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Oh no, LeBron—you don't show that sign whenever you are asked, "How many quarters are you going to play per game in the playoffs?"
LeBron James is the Heat's leading scorer at 27.7 points per game. He also leads the team in assists at 6.3 assists a night.
By these numbers alone, James' game changes the way the Miami Heat play.
I'm not taking anything away from Dwyane Wade who, after all these years, is the true leader of the Heat. However, James' dominance needs to last all four quarters if the Heat plan to win a championship.