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Could Stars Align for a 1st-Round Upset of the Miami Heat?

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Could Stars Align for a 1st-Round Upset of the Miami Heat?
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Miami Heat's LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh

In order for a first-round upset of the Miami Heat, the stars would need to align in such a way that disproves all known theory of NBA basketball in 2012-13.

The result of this astronomical formation would be reminiscent of the ground-breaking discovery first made by Nicolas Copernicus way back in the 16th century.

But just as Copernicus disproved the theory of planets orbiting Earth, the opportunity to disprove the notion of modern basketball revolving around the Heat also exists.

As of Saturday, the Milwaukee Bucks own the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. Along with that position, they have also earned a chance to make history by eliminating Miami in the opening round.

For this colossal upset to materialize, however, everything would have to go spectacularly right for Milwaukee while things went equally wrong for Miami. That everything, from the Bucks’ perspective, would be highlighted by their bench scoring twice as many points as the Heat's reserves throughout the series.

At the same time, Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis would also need to combine for more than 40 points per contest themselves.

Meanwhile, one of the Heat's Big Three would need to miss each game of the series while the remaining two combined for less than 40 on a nightly basis.

The likelihood of these four developments occurring simultaneously is only slightly better than a scientist one day disproving Copernicus' heliocentric model. 

But, as Kevin Garnett once said, anything is possible.


The Bucks bench would need to score twice as many points as the Heat reserves to help fuel the upset

Bucks vs. Heat, December 29, 2012

The Miami Heat are 3-1 against the Milwaukee Bucks this season. Milwaukee's only win came on December 29 by way of a 104-85 victory.

Outside of the 62 points from James, Wade and Bosh, the supporting cast for the Heat contributed only 23 in the loss. The Miami bench, specifically, accounted for 15 of those points.

The Bucks' reserves, however, created a decisive advantage by totaling 28.

While they didn't technically double the Heat's reserves in this win, doing so would be required throughout the series to enable the upset.

This means that Ray Allen and Mike Miller must be the non-factors they were in this matchup, while Mike Dunleavy, John Henson, the newly acquired J.J. Redick and others all make major impacts.  


Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis would also need to average over 40 points combined

Season Scoring averages for Milwaukee Bucks' Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis

In addition to the Bucks' bench dominating the Heat reserves, Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis would need to out-score their combined season average of 36.9.

The four-game average of 33.3 against Miami, specifically in 2012-13, won't be enough. 

Setting this threshold at the round number of 40, this also assumes a relatively even distribution of points among Jennings and Ellis.

Each of the Bucks two stars must be equally effective throughout the series in order to pull this historic upset.


The Big Three could only ever be a Big Two during the 1st round throughout the series

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Miami Heat's LeBron James and Dwyane Wade Inactive.

I don't see any team in the NBA eliminating the roster employed by the Heat when their top three stars are all healthy.

Unlike the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks, however, the Bucks don't even have a chance of winning two playoff games against a fully-staffed Heat lineup—let alone four times in a seven-game series.

So there would need to be some combination of Miami Heat injuries, ejections, suspensions, oversleeping of alarm clocks or personal drivers getting lost on their respective way to the arena for a 1st-round upset to occur.

But if James, Wade and Bosh never took the court collectively throughout the series—along with the Heat bench being doubled up as Jennings and Ellis went off—an upset becomes a possibility.


The two active members of the Big Three must be then held under 40

Scoring averages for Miami Heat's Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James

Whichever tandem of Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James did take the court during the 1st-round must also be held under an average of 40 points for an upset.

This task becomes increasingly difficult when considering that Bosh, Wade and James are all shooting better than they ever have from the field at 53.3, 51.9 and 56.5 percent respectively.

Additionally, if Bosh were the player sidelined, this would also mean that Wade and James would have to be collectively held under their scoring averages to stay below 40.

If James and his team-best 26.8 points were missing, this becomes less difficult, though still a challenge.

If all four of these developments did occur, however—at the same time—the Heat's star could come crashing down during a first-round upset in triumphant fashion.

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