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This is the team everyone waited so long to see in action! And they have had quite the season. The Heat certainly have had their share of lows and highs. They have gone on winning streaks and seemed unbeatable. They have gone on losing streaks and seemed completely dysfunctional.
One thing seems certain now: the Heat may have one of the toughest roads to the Finals of any team not named the Boston Celtics.
Although the records say otherwise, the East may have some of the best teams in the NBA. While the Heat should be able to sneak past the 76ers in the first round, the second round could match them up against either the New York Knicks or the Boston Celtics. LeBron and company have struggled mightily against the Celtics this year, only managing one win against them in four tries.
Everyone seems to be rooting against Miami as well. No one wants them to win. It seems almost poetic that they have the most difficult path to the end. If they, by some miracle, figure out how to dismantle the Celtics in seven games, they will most definitely be facing the Chicago Bulls (who may have quite an easy road to the Finals).
Can the Heat live up to expectations? Can they defeat their rival Celtics? Can they stop the Bulls who seem impossible to beat?
A few things need to occur in order for them to wield their second trophy. LeBron and Dwyane, of course, need to be themselves. Chris Bosh is the X-Factor. He CANNOT disappear as he's done during stretches of the season. He must grab rebounds and he must make his shots. Without him, LeBron and Wade may not be able to carry the load themselves. The Heat's bench has been largely absent all season as well. This cannot be the case in the playoffs.The competition is too great.
One of the biggest things I see as their downfall is their play in the fourth quarter. They have a tendency to squander big leads and lose close games. The playoffs will have their fair share of close games. The Heat need to capitalize when it's most important, not only relying on LeBron and Wade to make a last-second shot.
LeBron should not be forced to carry this team on his shoulders during the final stretch. They have been most successful when allowing others to take the final shot (for example: Eddie House). If they want to be successful in the playoffs, the Heat have to win close games.