The Miami Heat will have home-court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference piece of the playoffs, as they've locked themselves into the East's best overall record.
The Milwaukee Bucks will most likely get the honor of facing the Heat in a first-round series, and while the Bucks beat Miami once, they aren't built to last with the Heat.
Even if LeBron James and Co. were facing off against the New York Knicks or Indiana Pacers in the first round of the playoffs, they would still be huge favorites. And it's not for the reasons you might think.
The Heat aren't going to dominate in the playoffs because they have superstars that they can rely on to carry them in clutch moments?
Miami is built to succeed in the playoffs because it has some luxuries, or "hidden advantages," that other teams simply don't.
The first advantage the Heat have is legitimate, established chemistry amongst not only their starting five, but also their second unit.
At their core, the Heat are a very strong team. They can go eight deep and still have rotations out on the floor that understand how to play together.
Which bench player is most integral to the Heat's playoff success?
We're seeing this right now with the Heat, with LeBron and Wade on the bench resting for the playoffs.
Guys like Mike Miller, Rashard Lewis and Norris Cole are being thrust into serious minutes as of late, and they aren't disappointing.
It's not because they are still great players. It's because they (a) understand their roles on the team, and (b) work together. That may sound so simple but when the Heat's bench unit gets on the court, the chemistry with the starting unit, or with each other, is special to watch.
The Heat aren't a team that can beat you with just five players. They are a team that can beat you with eight or even nine players, and that makes them extremely dangerous because fresh legs leads to an ability to continue to run and defend with energy.
Serious efficiency from downtown is another major advantage the Heat have that you might not see on the surface.
The Heat shoot the ball at 39.4 percent from three-point land, which is the second-best level of efficiency in the entire NBA—just behind the Golden State Warriors who shoot 39.9 percent from downtown.
Sure, three points are always better than two, but that's not why the Heat's three-point shooting is important. It's integral to their success because it opens up the paint—the space where LeBron and Wade absolutely dominate.
When teams are allowed to clog the paint, they are also able to better contain LeBron and Wade, which is obviously at the foundation of being able to beat the Heat. That's why "big" teams like the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks have been able to beat the Heat this year.
When the Heat are knocking down perimeter jumpers, though, defenses have to either let the Heat beat them from there or bring help defense out on the perimeter. Doing that in turn opens up the paint for LeBron and Wade to do their thing.
The Heat's offense starts with dribble penetration and their three-point shooting makes that much easier to do.
The final "hidden advantage" that makes the Heat unstoppable in the playoffs is their inability to rebound the ball.
What? An inability to rebound is an advantage?
Well, for the Heat, it is. And that's only because they've figured out how to make it work for the talent they have on their roster.
Will an inability to rebound the ball hold the Heat back in the playoffs?
Early on in the season, failing to rebound held the Heat back because they kept trying to crash the boards, which led to transition offense for their opponents—because the Heat were out of position.
Now that the Heat realize, and have accepted, that they are the league's worst rebounding team—with just 38.1 rebounds per game—they are able to play within a system that fits them.
On the offensive glass, they rarely have a number of players crashing the glass, which allows them to get back on defense. That, in turn, keeps other teams from beating the Heat in transition.
Miami is a near lock to represent the Eastern Conference in the 2013 NBA Finals. While that's true, it's not necessarily because of the reasons you'd initially think.
They are a multi-faceted team, and that makes it even more dangerous than it appears on the surface.