Necessary Lessons Miami Heat Must Learn from 1st-Round Cakewalk in 2013 Playoffs

Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistApril 24, 2013

Necessary Lessons Miami Heat Must Learn from 1st-Round Cakewalk in 2013 Playoffs

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    The Miami Heat may be steamrolling the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the NBA playoffs, but there's plenty they can learn from their experiences that will help them over the course of the postseason.

    LeBron James and Co. have set a high bar with their play over the first two games, an ominous sign for Eastern Conference hopefuls.

    Although they haven't been perfect, the Heat have been steady, playing the calculated, decisive brand of basketball they've become famous for.

    Note: All stats retrieved from Basketball-Reference unless noted otherwise.

Aside from Chris Bosh, Chris Andersen Is the Heat's Most Important Big

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    It's only been two games, but Chris Andersen has made his presence felt.

    The Birdman has been wildly efficient against the Milwaukee Bucks, totaling 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting (4-of-6 from the free-throw line), 13 rebounds and one block in 28 minutes of action.

    And, if that wasn't enough, Andersen's advanced metrics in the context of the small sample size have been gaudy. 

    To that point, Andersen has posted a PER of 43.7, a true shooting percentage of 79.1 percent, a total rebounding percentage of 28.1 and a plus-minus of plus-22. 

    By comparison, Udonis Haslem has scored five points and pulled down 11 rebounds in 33 postseason minutes.

    An active body always ready to break out his signature flapping of the wings, there's no doubting that Andersen has become the Heat's most important big outside of Chris Bosh.

Continue to Pound the Paint

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    Without a conventional post-up big man, the Miami Heat wouldn't ordinarily be considered a team likely to dominate the paint.

    Over their first two games against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Heat have shown a dedication to getting to the rim, even if it means going up against the shot-blocking force that is Larry Sanders.

    In Games 1 and 2, the Heat combined to score 98 points in the paint, good for an average of 49 per game.

    According to TeamRankings.com, that mark far surpasses the 41.7 points in the paint the Heat averaged during the regular season.

    With LeBron James and Dwyane Wade capable of slashing into the lane and scoring at will, the Heat should continue to look to the paint. It will provide easy opportunities for buckets and subsequent free throws.

Turnovers Are Your Worst Enemy

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    During the regular season, the Miami Heat ranked tied for fifth in the NBA in turnovers per game. Erik Spoelstra has preached taking care of the ball game after game, and the Heat have become one of the league's most disciplined teams as a result.

    The Heat turned the ball over just 14 times per game this season, but they have gotten sloppy since the start of the playoffs.

    In their first two games against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Heat have turned the ball over 33 times, an average of 16.5 per game.

    Although they'll cruise past Milwaukee in the first round, the Heat can't afford to get sloppy against stingier defenses like Chicago, Indiana or New York.

    The Heat find themselves head and shoulders above their Eastern Conference peers. But limiting turnovers will be crucial if they hope to breeze into the NBA Finals.

Crash the Boards Just as You Did in Games 1 and 2

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    Remember all the chatter about the Miami Heat's inability to rebound?

    Forget it.

    The Miami Heat have out-rebounded the Milwaukee Bucks by an average margin of 12.5 boards per game thus far, securing 46 rebounds in Game 1 and 43 in Game 2.

    Despite ranking 26th in offensive rebounding percentage and 24th in defensive rebounding percentage during the regular season, the Heat have found ways to keep the Milwaukee bigs off the glass.

    Larry Sanders, who averaged 9.5 boards per game this season, has been limited to 11 rebounds in two games, while no Milwaukee player has accumulated more than 10 in a game to this point.

    Should the Heat sustain this aggressive attitude toward rebounding over the course of the postseason, the lives of future opponents will be miserable.

Don't Let Inferior Teams Hang Around

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    Yes, the Miami Heat's average margin of victory through two games is an obscene 17.5 points per game, but a much smaller and more concerning number is the Heat's average lead at halftime.

    On Sunday, the Heat led the Bucks by seven at the half, and on Tuesday that mark shrank to just four. Being capable of pulling away from a sub-.500 Bucks team late is one thing, but that task may be exponentially harder if the Heat find themselves in tight contests with the Indiana Pacers or New York Knicks.

    Even the slightest glimpse of hope can help inspire an underdog to pull off an upset, and that's territory the Heat should avoid.

    Since they possess the personnel to blow games wide open in the first 24 minutes, that's exactly what the Heat need to do.

    Sure, it's less dramatic, but the Heat were built to overwhelm opponents from tipoff.