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Miami Heat Playoffs Schedule: Teams the Champs Will Hope to Avoid

MIAMI, FL - MARCH 24:  Forward LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat reacts after a dunk against the Charlotte Bobcats at American Airlines Arena on March 24, 2013 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
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Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistApril 17, 2013

The Miami Heat enter the NBA playoffs as the favorite to win it all. However, there are a few teams that can give them trouble.

While much of the postseason picture is still to be decided, the Heat already know their first-round opponent. The Milwaukee Bucks earned the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference despite having a losing record on the season.

This team has some talent, but it would be a major surprise if Milwaukee was even able to win one game in the series against the Heat.

Still, not every matchup will be easy. Here is a look at the playoff schedule with opponents this team will want to avoid.

 

Key Dates

Playoffs Start: April 20

Conference Semifinals: May 7

Conference Finals: May 22

NBA Finals: June 6

 

Brooklyn Nets

If there is one thing that the Heat struggle with it is size. Erik Spoelstra likes using small lineups, but that leads to struggles against solid frontcourts.

Even though Brooklyn made a number of moves over the past couple of years to get Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace, it is Brook Lopez that leads the team with 19.4 points per game. He should be able to score plenty of points inside if he faces Miami.

Additionally, the small Heat lineup hurts their ability to rebound and the squad ranks last in the NBA in boards per game. Reggie Evans and the Nets will get plenty of second chances on offense by going after the glass throughout the series.

Adding in the great defense that the Nets play, this group can pull off an upset in the second round.

 

New York Knicks

No team wants to face the New York Knicks at this point of the season. They have won 15 of the last 17 games and Carmelo Anthony is starting to score at an incredible rate. The small forward is averaging 36.9 points per game in April.

Complementing Anthony perfectly on the inside is Tyson Chandler, who continues to be one of the top interior defenders in the league.

With more depth than the team has had in years, even this aging roster should be fresh once the postseason starts.

The Knicks have the confidence of champions and they should be able to carry the recent momentum into the postseason. This should make the Heat nervous if the teams match up in the conference finals.

 

Los Angeles Clippers

The Western Conference has some great teams at the top of the standings, but it is also very deep. As a result, there are a few squads that have the ability to make a run to the NBA finals.

Among all of the potential options, the Heat should want to face anyone but the Clippers.

Miami easily defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder last year and they are arguably weaker this season without James Harden. If the Heat can force the ball out of Kevin Durant's hands and into Russell Westbrook's, they will be able to win again.

The San Antonio Spurs are also fading fast and their older lineup will struggle to keep up physically with Miami.

However, the Clippers have the depth, athleticism and quick pace necessary to stick with the Heat in a seven-game series. Now that the team is healthy, Los Angeles will provide a challenge to whomever it faces in the postseason.

 

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