What We Learned About Miami Heat in First-Round Playoff Series

Peter Emerick@@peteremerickSenior Writer IIMay 3, 2013

MIAMI, FL - APRIL 21:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat reacts to a play during Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at against the Milwaukee BucksAmerican Airlines Arena on April 21, 2013 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Miami Heat swept the Milwaukee Bucks, and they did so beating them by an average of 14.8 points per game.

While you have to applaud Brandon Jennings' confidence when he said that the Bucks could beat the Heat in six games, the Bucks weren't even on the same playing field as the Heat.

Throughout the first-round series, it almost looked like the Heat weren't giving 100 percent out on the floor. That's certainly not true, but it appeared that way because the Heat were so efficient and productive on both sides of the ball.

You know the phrase, "Work smarter, not harder"? Well, that's exactly what the Heat did during their first-round series with the Bucks. And it's exactly what they will continue to do throughout the playoffs. 

A good example of their intelligent play is the 49.9 percent shooting they averaged as a team throughout the entire first four games of the playoffs. It's hard enough for teams to shoot 50 percent from the floor in one game, let alone an entire playoff series.

Dennis Green sums up what we learned about the Heat in the first round best with his classic quote—"They are what we thought they were."

The Heat reminded the entire NBA that they are a different team in the playoffs compared to the regular season. 

I hate to use the "flip the switch" mentality here, but it's honestly what the Heat have done so far in the playoffs. Not only did they sweep the Bucks, they did it in an impressive fashion that left no questions about their ability to make a clean run at the NBA title this year.

That may seem like a cliché statement, but aside from the San Antonio Spurs, no other team handled its first-round series like clear title contenders. 

We also learned that the Heat can win in spite of themselves.

Sure, we all know that Miami rebounds like a middle school team at best. But we've already figured out that it can win games without dominating the boards.

What we didn't know is that LeBron James and company can control games even when they aren't protecting the ball like they should. 

In their four games with Milwaukee, the Heat averaged a whopping 16.3 turnovers per game. If the Heat had squeaked out a win or two against the Bucks those turnovers would be a major area of concern. 

But the fact that they won by 14.8 points per game while turning the ball over like it was their job is pretty impressive.

Sure, it was against the Bucks, but when you piece together their ability to shoot a high percentage from the field (49.9 percent) while winning by nearly 15 points per game, that turnover statistic takes a different form.

The final thing we learned about the Heat was that their defense is the real impetus for their offense. Without defense, the Heat are a team without direction.

Miami gave up just 85.3 points per game on 43.6 percent shooting to the Bucks, and it also forced an impressive 15.8 turnovers per game.

Using tough and opportunistic perimeter defense to slow the Bucks down was not only an intelligent choice by Erik Spoelstra, but it showed Miami's ability to guard the deep ball, which was a major area of weakness early on in the season.

The Bucks averaged just 25.8 percent from beyond the arc, and it was all because the Heat's defenders were in their shooters' faces each and every night.

When the playoffs roll around, the Heat are an entirely different beast, and that's scary because they were the best team all season long.

Improving in the playoffs and moving on takes attention to detail, and that's exactly what LeBron and company are doing.

We will certainly learn more about the Heat during their second-round series, assuming either the Brooklyn Nets or Chicago Bulls can put together at least one competitive game against Miami.

Either way, the Heat have proven that they are ready to run to the title, and it doesn't look like there are many teams that can stand in their way. 


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