Miami Heat: Will Securing Homecourt Advantage Throughout Playoffs Hurt Miami?
With six games left on their schedule, four of which are against below .500 teams, and a four-game lead on the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder for best record in the NBA, the question is whether the Miami Heat should bottom out for the remainder of the regular season.
The logic is simple: The scheduling format in the NBA Finals shifts to a 2-3-2 in which the road team has the benefit of playing three (assuming they win a game) of the first five games at home.
The Miami Heat is currently 2-1 in the NBA Finals as a franchise. Both wins came as the road team (i.e. the team with the lesser regular-season record), while their only loss was at the expense of "having" home-court advantage.
Furthermore, the two aforementioned teams currently within striking distance of the Heat's record also double as the two most likely to make it out of the Western conference.
Shocking, I know, but such is the case when televised basketball reprograms itself from March Madness to April Adequacy and May Mundanity.
Now, much like the defending champs, both the Spurs and Thunder have been dominant at home, having lost only five games each thus far in their respective arenas.
On the road, however, their dominance is much less visible, with each boasting a matching record of 23-15.
While the Heat, at 27-12, have a better current road record than the Spurs and Thunder, it is certainly a far cry from its 33-4 record at home.
In addition, consider that, despite Miami winning in the 2012 NBA Finals in only five games, their most narrow win of the series came on the road amidst a controversial no-call in the waning seconds of the match between Kevin Durant and LeBron James.
Had the call gone in favor of Oklahoma City, it is entirely conceivable that the Thunder would've carried a 2-0 lead heading to South Beach, with the Heat having the onus to win its next three just to secure a final encounter on the road.
Not exactly a pretty picture to think about, right?
But since we are speaking in hypotheticals, let's assume the Heat meet the Thunder again this year in a rubber match of last year's NBA Finals.
Only, this time, instead of being the team looking to steal one of the first two matches of the series on the road, they have the pressure of winning their first two games at home AND winning at least one game on the road just to keep momentum in their favor.
Oh, and don't forget to add to that recipe that the Thunder are probably just a tiny bit salty about losing to Miami last year. Kevin Durant will probably be as locked in as ever before, and that the home crowd in OKC ranges from deafening to this.
But what do I know?
Sure, the Heat could give away its last six games and still secure home-court advantage throughout the eastern conference playoffs while providing their starters a little added rest to boot.
And, sure, this would also probably mean that three of their first five games in the NBA Finals would be at home instead of on the road.
Then again, maybe this is just the lingering paranoia of a die-hard Heat fan that all-too-vividly remembers how Miami's last rubber match in the NBA Finals went.
Truth be told, all I really know ... is there's no place like home.
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