Do Miami Heat Have Anything Left to Prove in the NBA's Regular Season?
The Miami Heat have nothing left to prove in the 2012-13 regular season.
Regardless of how long they extend their current winning streak—or further the divide for first place in the Eastern Conference—this team will be ultimately measured by championships alone.
With 20 games remaining, the Heat have done everything they've needed to do in order to put themselves in a position to defend their 2012 NBA title.
As the first team to clinch a playoff berth this season, they are now riding a 19-game winning streak into Wednesday's matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers.
On the strength of career shooting years from each of Miami's Big Three, the Heat have also won a higher percentage of games than they did during the 2011-12 campaign.
So while there are questions surrounding the Heat's collective ability to rebound—or even how they might line up with the Indiana Pacers in the postseason, for example—those questions cannot be answered until the playoffs begin.
The Miami Heat are already winning a higher percentage of games than they did last year
The Miami Heat began their quest for an NBA championship in 2012 with a No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Instead of finishing four games behind the first place Chicago Bulls, this time the Heat are owners of the league's best overall record.
At 48-14 through Tuesday, it is essentially impossible for Miami to relinquish its 9.5-game lead over the Indiana Pacers or New York Knicks at this point.
Furthermore, if the Heat manage to win only 10 of their next 20 games, their overall winning percentage will eclipse the .697 mark they posted last season.
As a footnote to the MVP-caliber season that LeBron James has put together, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade are also shooting better than they ever have from the field.
While Bosh's scoring average has dipped to 16.9 points per night, his field-goal percentage is at a career high of 53.8 percent through Tuesday. Meanwhile, Dwyane Wade is scoring 21.8 points on a career-best 52.3 percent from the field.
This—along with the 55.9 percent shooting that James has used to average 26.5 points—has made the Heat unbeatable over the last two months.
The only question remaining is whether or not their collective effectiveness carries over into the playoffs.
The Heat have defended home better than any team in the NBA
It's pretty hard to beat the Heat right now. It's even harder in Miami. When Mario Chalmers has 21 points in 22 minutes, time to start bus— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) March 10, 2013
The most important indicator of playoff success is how well a team is able to defend its home court.
While posting a 30-3 record at home thus far, no team has demonstrated this ability better than the Miami Heat.
As evidenced by a 26-point performance from Mario Chalmers in a home win over the Indiana Pacers on Sunday, the Heat's supporting cast has elevated their play in the friendly confines of American Airlines Arena.
Through Tuesday, they have also earned the right to use that home court their advantage throughout the postseason.
Team rebounding does need to improve, but is it really that big of an issue?
The biggest question surrounding the Miami Heat relates directly to their collective ability to rebound the basketball.
Despite LeBron James averaging a career high of 8.1 rebounds per night, the Heat have posted an NBA-worst total of 38.6 rebounds per game on the year.
But while they could certainly use the duration of the regular season to improve, there isn't anything the Heat necessarily need to prove in this regard.
In a potential playoff series with the Indiana Pacers—the team who currently leads the NBA in rebounding—there could be some reason for concern.
In suggesting as much, however, the Heat also did just beat the Pacers 105-91 in a game where they were only out-rebounded 33-28.
This Miami Heat team will only be measured by championships
We can break down as many advanced statistics as we'd like from now until June—but as far as the Miami Heat are concerned specifically—championship[s] are all that matter.
Even though the NBA universe isn't as angry with the celebration that LeBron James and company staged during the summer of 2010, the expectations are still the same.
While nobody actually thinks the Heat will rip off the seven or eight titles they talked about that day specifically, multiple rings are a necessity.
They earned the right to be fitted for that first piece of jewelry in 2012. The Heat won't have that second opportunity until after the 2012-13 regular season concludes.
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