With a 36-14 overall record before the 2013 NBA All-Star break, the Miami Heat ended the "first half" of the season with the top record in the Eastern Conference.
While you could consider that a success, there's a lot of room for improvement for the reigning NBA champions.
If the Heat want to start their own NBA dynasty, they'll need to start asserting themselves not only in the East, but also against the best of the best coming out of the Western Conference.
If you thought LeBron James' record-breaking dominance in the first half of the season was fun to watch, then get ready for part two.
The Heat have their sights set on a second-straight NBA title, and the pursuit of that starts when the post All-Star break portion of the season gets under way.
36-14 before the All-Star break.
27-5 after the All-Star break.
What's going to be the difference from the first and second halves of the 2012-13 season? It's going to be the pressure other teams like the Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers are putting on them for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
So who are the five teams that will take down the Heat in the second half of the season? Here are the dates and times of those losses.
Miami Heat vs. Chicago Bulls—Feb. 21
Atlanta Hawks vs. Miami Heat—Mar. 12
Miami Heat vs. Milwaukee Bucks—Mar. 15
Miami Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs—Mar. 31
Miami Heat vs. Cleveland Cavaliers—Apr. 15
The Heat will stumble a few times during the home stretch of the season, including a tough road loss to a fiery Cavaliers team that will be playing for more than the Heat will at that point of the season.
Finishing the second half of the season strong will be crucial to the Heat carrying their success into the playoffs.
The more Chris Andersen gets into shape, the better the Miami Heat are going to be.
Sure, that sounds like common sense, but it's going to make a big difference for the Heat down the home stretch of the season and into the playoffs.
The Heat currently rank dead last in rebounding with an abysmal 38.9 rebounds per game. The truth of the matter is that the Heat just can't win a title as the NBA's worst rebounding team.
Well, good news for the Heat, Chris "Bird Man" Andersen isn't going to let that happen.
I wouldn't be surprised if, by the end of the regular season, Andersen is averaging 7.5 rebounds and 21.5 minutes per game. That might sound like way too big of a jump for a bench player, but that won't be a problem for Anderson once he finds his form.
It sounds really weird to say that Andersen is the key to a 2013 NBA title for the Heat, but it's the truth.
Get ready for a big second half from the Bird Man.
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
That is what the Miami Heat's motto needs to be as we move closer to the Feb. 21 NBA trade deadline.
No, they don't need to add a veteran big man, and they certainly don't need any production from the perimeter players.
The Heat just need to continue to build chemistry throughout the rest of the season, and not worry about adding anyone to their roster.
Bringing on Chris Andersen was the best move the Heat could make. In fact, it's the only move they needed to make.
With LeBron, Wade, Bosh and Allen, the Heat really don't need much else. Adding someone to the roster would add more trouble than it would help, and I'm sure Pat Riley knows that.
With a 36-14 overall record before the 2013 All-Star break, the Miami Heat are the proud owners of the Eastern Conference's best record.
Unfortunately for the Heat, the mighty San Antonio Spurs, with a 42-12 record, are the owners of the NBA's top record.
That much isn't going to change as the second half of the season rages on.
Yes, the Heat are going to continue to dominate the Eastern Conference. That includes finding ways to beat the New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers.
As guys like Chris Andersen continue to develop and get back into shape, Miami will become a more competent team in the paint, which means they'll be able to finally hang with teams that have imposing frontcourts.
So if the Heat are going to be "so dominant," why won't they be able to overcome the San Antonio Spurs? I've got two words to answer that question: Gregg Popovich.
The Heat can't compete coach-wise with the Spurs, and that's what the difference is between the two teams.
Prediction time for the second-half of the season—Heat end the season 63-19 overall, the Spurs narrowly edge them out with a 67-15 overall record.
You don't remember that? Well, it's because no one ever said it, because that concept is absolutely ludicrous.
This is pure speculation, but I think Kobe felt like he had to prove something, and my guess is that it was Jordan's comments regarding him and LeBron.
For some reason Michael Jordan thinks that he needs to keep giving his opinion on the Kobe vs. LeBron debate, as he did in an NBATV interview (h/t ESPN). Sure, he's arguably the greatest of all time, but at the same time he needs to realize that his opinion is just another opinion.
If LeBron actually cared about the whole Kobe and Jordan thing, he would've actually stepped up his game when Kobe decided to put him on lockdown in a game that no one cares about.
It's clear that LeBron doesn't want to be the next Jordan, and he doesn't care about the constant comparisons.
I'm not MJ, I'm LJ
— LeBron James (@KingJames) February 13, 2013
That much will stay the same as the second half of the season continues on. LeBron will continue to dominate, and he'll continue to scoff at the Jordan comparisons and debates—even when Jordan himself hops into the mix.
Mark my words. The 2012-13 NBA season will end with LeBron James and company hoisting the Larry O'Brien Championship trophy fro the second straight year.
Why, must you ask?
Well, it's because the level of dominance we've recently seen out of LeBron is slowly but surely becoming the new normal for the King.
The fact that his most recent performance of 39 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists, on 58.3 percent shooting, snapped a historic streak is positively ridiculous.
By his recent standards, 39 points on 58.3 percent shooting was a letdown. That shows just how dominant he is, and how dominant he will be throughout the second half of the season.
In his last five games, Kevin Durant couldn't stop LeBron, and neither could Nicolas Batum, Kobe Bryant—except in a meaningless All-Star Game—Caron Butler or James Harden.
LeBron's performed at a historic rate against the best of the best, and the second half of the season is going to be something special to watch, and will end with him getting his second-straight ring.