Hidden Keys for Miami Heat to Win First-Round Series

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Hidden Keys for Miami Heat to Win First-Round Series
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

 

The Miami Heat have a commanding 2-0 lead on the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs and seem primed to win the series with ease.

But Miami still has work to do and can't take its foot off of the gas pedal. There are plenty of obvious reasons for how the Heat can finish off Milwaukee, most notably the play of LeBron James.

However, let's focus on the other, less talked about, keys that can propel Miami to a series victory. 

 

Chris Andersen

Chris "Birdman" Andersen averaged just 14.9 minutes per game in the 42 games he appeared in for Miami in the regular season. But with the energy he plays with, along with his rebounding and defensive skills, he was able to have a tremendous impact on Miami's ability to win.

That hasn't changed in the postseason. In fact, through two games, Birdman has stepped up his game. In only 16 minutes during Game 1, Andersen scored 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting from the field, along with seven rebounds. Andersen's seven boards was tied with Chris Bosh (27 minutes) for second most on the Heat. 

Birdman's work on the glass is probably most of all what makes him such a difference maker on the Heat, considering Miami's certainly had difficulties in that area this season.

In Game 2 he was able to secure six rebounds in just 12 minutes, which made him once again the best per minute rebounder on the Heat.

But his impact doesn't stop there.  He's had a couple of high-energy plays that have significantly affected both games.

In Game 1, it was his alley-oop dunk from a Ray Allen pass with a little less than eight minutes remaining that seemed to put the game away. The crowd went crazy and it put Miami up by 17 points.

Andersen's dunk late in Game 1 put the game away.

In Game 2, it was a tip-in that Andersen was fouled on that started off a huge 12-0 run to start off the fourth quarter after Miami had let the Bucks hang with them for three quarters. Andersen never gave up on the play and it was a clear turning point.

Birdman with the huge tip-in.

Andersen doesn't play big minutes, but he's been able to help out well in multiple areas of the game in his limited time. Birdman was able to do whatever he wanted to in the first two games and it will greatly benefit Miami's chance if that continues.

 

Turnovers

Miami seemed to have solved their turnover woes from the 2011-12 season, as the Heat finished with the sixth fewest turnovers this year (13.3 per game).

But unfortunately for the Heat, these problems seem to have snuck back in the postseason.

Through two games the Heat have turned the ball over 33 times.

Turnovers have been a key reason why Milwaukee has been able to stay close in both of the games at times. 

In Game 1, the Heat turned the ball over 11 times in just the first half. Entering the second half, their lead was seven.

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Miami needs to be more careful with the ball.

In Game 2, Miami once again had issues, as they turned the ball over nine times in the first half. This time their lead entering the break was just four.

The Heat are such a supremely talented team that them being sloppy with the ball is one of the few ways the Bucks can hang with them. 

Again, the Heat have been careful with the ball all season, so it's likely that this can be a quick fix for Miami going forward. If the Heat want to finish this series in four games, they better hope it is. 

 

Offensive Rebounding

The one knock on Miami in the 2012-13 season was rebounding, as they finished ranked 21st in overall rebounding rate. The numbers on the offensive glass were even worse for the Heat, as their 22.2 offensive rebounding rate ranked tied for 26th.

Milwaukee was an excellent rebounding team throughout the 2012-13 season. So it seemed going into this series that the Bucks could steal a game if they were able to dominate the glass and get plenty of second-chance opportunities.

Surprisingly, the Heat have actually won the overall rebounding battle in both games as well as the offensive rebounding battle.

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Chris Andersen has been a huge help on the offensive glass.

Through two games, the Heat have grabbed 23 offensive boards to the Bucks' 14 rebounds.

A big reason for this has been the aforementioned Andersen. Birdman has grabbed eight offensive boards in the first two games.

But it's not just Andersen. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have also been sizable assets on the offensive glass in Game 1 and Game 2.

This is a huge problem for Milwaukee. Not only are they not getting enough second-chance opportunities, but they're letting Miami get too many of them. If Miami can continue to win this battle, Milwaukee will truly have no advantages going forward in this series.

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