For another year, the Miami Heat successfully flipped its on/off switch upward come postseason time.
Miami's defense ranked just 11th in efficiency in the regular season, yet the Heat are allowing a postseason-best 89.3 points per game. The Heat ranked in the middle of the pack in three-point shooting this season (12th), yet they are shooting a blistering 42.2 percent from outside this postseason.
Miami's 4.8-plus point differential in the regular season was on par with the Golden State Warriors, who finished sixth in the Western Conference this season. In the playoffs, the Heat's point differential is 12.0. Not only is that the league best, but it's almost double (worth repeating: double) the team with the second best differential, the San Antonio Spurs (6.1).
Yes, the Heat corrected most of their issues and are absolutely dominating their competition right now, making another parade on South Beach look like a strong bet.
But, as great as life is right now for Miami, there is always room to get better, always a few things they can do to put themselves in an even better position to win it all.
Let's take a look what those areas of potential improvement are.
Now, the Big Three Heat have not typically been a solid rebounding team, or even an average rebounding team, and it hasn't stopped them from great success.
Just as it did this year, Miami entered the 2013 postseason with the worst per-game rebounding average in the league. And as we all know, the Heat won the title last year.
The Heat's rebounding woes are by design. This is a team that purposefully plays small, understanding the benefits of such a style outweighs the negatives (such as struggles on the glass).
However, Miami isn't just losing the rebounding battle in the postseason; they're getting absolutely obliterated.
Miami's offensive rebounding rate is an abysmal .146, a league worst. The team with the second lowest rate? The Atlanta Hawks at .204.
This is a teamwide issue for the Heat. Chris Andersen, Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, among others, have seen their offensive rebounds per game drop from the regular season to the playoffs.
As we've gone over, they are still crushing opponents, even with these rebounding struggles. But that has to be partly attributed to the quality of opponents they've faced (the Charlotte Bobcats and Brooklyn Nets).
If the Heat gave a great team like the San Antonio Spurs such an enormous advantage on the glass in the Finals, Miami very well could find itself in a bit of trouble.
Again, the Heat can still be a terrible rebounding team and win on the biggest stage. But Miami could really help its cause if it kept these deficits on the glass closer than it has to this point.
Miami struggled defending the three-point shot in the 2013-14 regular season. However, it would have been reasonable to expect that once playoff time came, and the Heat clamped down on defense, such a problem wouldn't exist to the same extent.
Well, that hasn't happened. As a matter of fact, nothing has really changed.
After allowing opponents to shoot 36.2 percent from outside in the regular season (ranked 18th), foes are hitting shots at a 36.8 conversation rate from downtown in the postseason.
In Thursday's Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Nets, Miami was destroyed by Mirza Teletovic. This was largely a product of subpar rotations and simply leaving him wide open on the perimeter.
Again, the Heat might be able to get away with that in a home game against the Nets. But this team's aspirations aren't beating Brooklyn in the second round.
Leave shooters open like that against the Spurs in the Finals? We know what happens then. Danny Green starts looking like the greatest shooter in NBA history.
Miami has made a great deal of improvements to its defensive intensity this postseason, but this remains an area it needs to sharpen up in if it wants to achieve ultimate glory.