5 Hidden Advantages Miami Heat Have in 2014 Playoffs

Sam RichmondCorrespondent IApril 22, 2014

5 Hidden Advantages Miami Heat Have in 2014 Playoffs

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    J Pat Carter

    The Miami Heat might be the most talked about team in sports throughout the past couple of years, so surely there is a lot everyone knows about them.

    Still, there are a few things flying under the radar related to this team that could be beneficial to them as the postseason progresses. 

    From the over-the-top depth to Chris Bosh's ability beyond the arc, let's take a look at the five hidden advantages the Heat have. 

End-of-the-Bench Depth

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    Lynne Sladky

    Every playoff team has important contributors coming off the bench. But the Heat have that and more. Miami's depth extends to the point where they have guys that routinely sit out based on coach Spoelstra's decision that are capable of performing. 

    That was on display in Game 1 of the Heat's first-round series against the Charlotte Bobcats, when James Jones, who played a grand total of 18 minutes from Dec. 5-Mar. 26, added 12 points in 14 minutes in the Heat victory.

    Game 1 was Jones' turn to be the unforeseen hero from the end of the bench. Down the line, it could be someone else. Shane Battier, Greg Oden and Michael Beasley each were disappointments this season and didn't play in the opener, but all possess the talent to be a factor at some point during this playoff run.

    Throughout the Big Three era we've seen key role players emerge in the playoffs after playing very few minutes in the regular season (see: Miller, Mike), and this year should be no different. 

Health

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    Lynne Sladky

    The Heat made it a goal this year to enter the playoffs with Dwyane Wade healthy.

    He did. And so did his teammates.

    There are teams like the Brooklyn Nets (Brook Lopez), Atlanta Hawks (Al Horford) and Chicago Bulls (Derrick Rose) that lost one of their star players to season-ending injury long ago .

    There's also a team like the Golden State Warriors, who saw center Andrew Bogut suffer a rib injury just prior to the postseason that's caused him to missed the first few games. 

    And there's also a team like the Charlotte Bobcats, who now have hobbled center Al Jefferson (foot) to work with in the first round against Miami. 

    The biggest worry the Heat have right now is Mario Chalmers, whose knee injury may cost him Game 2. But Rio's injury isn't expected to be serious, and Miami could certainly overcome his absence for a game. 

    The Heat find themselves relatively unscathed injury-wise, which has them in great position to do a lot of winning. 

The Heat Have an Extra Gear

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    Lynne Sladky

    Energy and effort aren't categories on the box score, but they obviously play enormous factors in which teams win basketball games. 

    We watched the Heat lose plenty of games this year (often to much lesser competition) after lacking those two qualities at times. But that's solely a regular-season problem.

    In fact, come postseason time, energy and effort become a strength of Miami's. The Heat have an enormous on/off switch, and it's about to be pushed completely upwards in the coming weeks and months.

    No other team can switch gears to the extent the Heat can, which is a huge boost for Miami, given they have a talent advantage just about every time they take the floor. 

Chris Bosh's Three-Point Shot

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    Lynne Sladky

    Chris Bosh has seen tremendous growth in his ability to knock down three-pointers this season, which has proven to be a big asset for Miami.

    After shooting 28.4 percent from outside last year, Bosh converted 33.9 percent of his shots beyond the arc in 2013-14. Bosh is now able to draw opposing centers even further away from the paint than he was able to in the past while solely having an excellent mid-range jumper.

    The threat of the shot really opens up the floor for the rest of the Heat offense to operate. Slashers, such as LeBron James, now have a much easier path to the basket.

    Bosh's improved spacing ability might not jump off the screen, but it's crucial to the success of Miami's offense.

     

A Resurgent Udonis Haslem

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    Wilfredo Lee

    Udonis Haslem looked done. He lost his rotation spot early in the season after struggling in nearly every facet of the game and spent much of the year on the bench.

    But coach Erik Spoelstra decided to give Haslem a chance to redeem himself late in March, and U.D. took complete advantage. He averaged 7.9 points on 61.5 percent shooting from the floor and 7.9 rebounds in April.

    The mid-range game is back. The excellent defense is back (just ask Roy Hibbert). And the top-notch rebounding is back, too. 

    Haslem's game might not be flashy, nor may he be someone defenses are game-planing for, but he does the little things for the Heat that can pay dividends this time of year.