A Beginner's Guide to Miami Heat Playoff Basketball

This Sunday, the Miami Heat will participate in an NBA playoff game for the first time since June 15, 2014. Finally, all is right with the world again.

The playoff berth is all the more notable because the Heat players epically pooped their pants against the Boston Celtics Wednesday in a must-win game. Yet somehow they not only kept the third seed in the Eastern Conference but also got a matchup with the sixth-seeded Charlotte Hornets. It was a miracle. 

So now that the Heat is back to playing butt-cheek-clenching basketball games in late April, let's get reacquainted with how this NBA playoffs process goes down. Huddle up, Heat fans, because this is our official walkthrough and shootaround. 

When do the first-round games take place? 

First things first. Before you can party with the Heat, you need the times and places. Games 1 and 2 are in Miami, while Games 3 and 4 are in Charlotte. Times for the Miami games are listed below.

These are not suggested times you should get in your car. These are not times you park your car in a lot you're almost 100 percent sure you saw on First 48. These are not the times you should be handing a yellow-shirted American Airlines Arena worker your ticket. This is not even the time you should be ordering a $21 double Jack and Coke.

These are the actual times your ass better be in your seat, with your face out of Snapchat and on the court.
What should I wear? 

By now, you should know this, but in case you don't take hints very well, the Heat is once again going with the White Hot theme. That means wear white. Don't rely on snagging a free T-shirt at the arena. White shirts are on sale for literally 99 cents at many places. Get one. Do not be the one asshole forever pictured in a poster, calendar, or YouTube video inexplicably wearing a faded-coral polo shirt. I don't care if you need to bring a garbage bag — your ass better be White Hot come Sunday. 

OK, so now that we have covered the basics, let's answer a few questions and get into the more advanced stages of planning for the Heat's playoff run. 

What is the best strategy to beat the traffic after the game? 

First off, you never leave the game early. Never. Listen, if you're paying big bucks for the Miami Heat playoff game, stay until it's finished, OK? You might witness a historic comeback, or you might leave while celebrating and end up missing overtime — you never know. If you're that worried about a three-minute head start on traffic, next time take an Uber and protect your investment.

Where is the best place to park?

That's a tricky question. Basically, the answer depends on you. If you get to Bayside early enough, you can probably score a spot in the parking garage. Otherwise, download the Park Jockey app — it's made to help Heat fans locate and reserve parking in lots surrounding American Airlines Arena. If you get there really late, you might be better off parking at a Publix a few miles away and calling a cab. 

So if I get there too early, what do I do to kill time? 

Get something to eat at Bayside. Things get more and more expensive as you climb the stairs heading into the arena. Might as well get there early and eat. Here is a handy-dandy guide to Bayside Marketplace

I haven't been to a Heat game in a while. Is "Seven Nation Army" still a thing? 

Somehow, yes. At this point, we must just accept that it will never go away. There will always be "Seven Nation Army" outbreaks. It's like herpes, in that you're reminded you acquired it during a pretty fun time, but living with it for the rest of your life is the punishment for that past pleasure. The chant still has a time and place, but it's best saved until the Heat is in full-fledged NBA Jam he's on fire mode. Don't be the guy trying to start this chant with the Heat on defense protecting an 8-6 lead. That's not how this works. People will judge you. 

I'm looking to get drunk. What's the best thing to order at a Heat game? 

The Triple-A offers an oddly awesome variety of craft beers available at select locations all game, but if you're looking to get freaky, Moët & Chandon’s Moët Ice Impérial will be the official champagne of White Hot. It's served in large white goblets. It's the most Miami thing ever. If you're looking to order hard liquor at the arena, be prepared to take out a line of credit. 

Catch me up on the new players' nicknames. I don't want to feel left out.

Hassan Whiteside: Agent Block. Blocktapus. Block Mamba. He likes basically any nickname. 

Justice Winslow: Rook 1.

Josh Richardson: Young Thirst. Rook 2.

Joe Johnson: Joe Cool. Iso Joe. 

Tyler Johnson: Bumpy. Dirty Sprite. 

Briante Weber: Bri-fence. We just met him, so that's about it. 

What are the potential teams the Heat could face in the East? 

The most likely route to the finals goes through Charlotte, Toronto, and Cleveland. To get yourself totally caught up on the East brackets, check out the outlook here

If I can't make the game, where can I watch it on TV?

Sunday's Game 1 will be broadcast on Fox Sports Sun. Some, but not all, first-round games will be locally broadcast on Fox Sports Sun. You can find the first-round TV schedule here, or you can buy a TV Guide like your grandma. After the first round, there are no local broadcasts — them's the rules. 

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