Five Reasons the Miami Heat Wants the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Playoffs

Photo by Keith Allison / Flickr
The next week of Miami Heat basketball is important, which is miraculous considering where the team sat in the standings three months ago. The Heat is desperately trying to make the playoffs after starting the season 11-30. For exactly half a season, the Heat was the second-worst team in the NBA. Since then, Miami is one of the hottest teams in the NBA, and the narrative surrounding the squad is no longer what spot in the draft the team can obtain, but how high a playoff seed it can capture. If there were ever a team that was playing with house money, it's this Miami Heat.

So why not go big? If the Heat can sneak into the playoffs this season, the team should want the LeBron James-led defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers. Go big or go home. Here's why it's crazy to think the Heat should want the Cavs in the first round of this year's playoffs.
Photo by Alex Broadwell
5. What better time than now to go all in?

The Heat has no business being in the position it's in. The team was dead. This is a zombie basketball squad. Miami somehow caught lightning in a bottle like no team in NBA history ever has. If the Heat can climb to .500 before the playoffs begin, it will be the first team in NBA history to do so after being 19 games below .500. None of it makes sense, and no one knows how long it will last. The Heat should want to knock off the biggest foe as early as possible while the team is still riding high on this hot streak.
Photo by Erik Drost / Flickr
4. Catch the Cavaliers while they are down.

The Cavaliers are in a rut. Smart money says they are just bored with the regular season, and Heat fans certainly saw some LeBron-led Heat teams that acquired that terrible habit a few times in his four years with the franchise. It is possible, though, that the Cavs just aren't clicking because they aren't the same team with the same drive to win anymore. If there is one thing Heat fans know, it's that as LeBron gets deeper into the playoffs, he gets it rolling. Once he gets it rolling, more times than not, his opponents are done. The Heat should want to catch the Cavs right out of the playoffs gate, when they're still fuzzy from the regular-season doldrums. Maybe Miami can catch the Cavs before they figure it out.
Photo by Keith Allison / Flickr
3. Beating LeBron with this Heat team would be the ultimate recruiting tool.

Second to stopping his championship run last year, the Heat beating LeBron with a squad full of guys thrown together after Wade left would be the sweetest revenge. That's not what's most important, though. What's much more important is the fact that a hodgepodge bunch of castoffs dethroning LeBron would be the Heat's greatest recruiting tool for years. LeBron thought he could steal the formula, but he can't. He can be the best player in the world and will a team to a couple of playoff wins, but he can't bring the Heat's culture to Cleveland, Ohio. Sending his ass home with Dion Waiters and Wayne Ellington would be the biggest statement the Heat could ever make to free agents: Want to know that the franchise you're dedicating a huge chunk of your career to will put you in the best position to win? Come to the Heat. Miami does more with less, and even more with more.
Photo by Alex Broadwell
2. Heat-Cavs would be a taste of the Big Three era all over again.

Facing the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs would be cool, but it wouldn't have the extra juice of a LeBron-Heat matchup. The electricity with LeBron in the building is rare. It's Michael Jordan-like. It's just different, and whether you're the team with LeBron or the opponent, you want to be involved with that sort of atmosphere. Losing 4-1 to the Celtics would be forgotten like another Dolphins wildcard playoff loss. Battling LeBron, win or lose, would be a dive back into the excitement that Heat fans got to live for the best four years of their sports lives.
1. Riley's revenge.

This is where it gets superpetty, and we're OK with that. No matter how you cut it, LeBron did Pat Riley dirty in a few places in the name of improving his image. He took everything the Heat gave him and gave the team a thank-you akin to the sort of nonapology Donald Trump rarely gives. To end LeBron's run at defending Cleveland's championship this year would be sweet, sweet revenge. We aren't above being petty. This is Miami. We are at peace with being petty when it makes us feel better about ourselves.
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Ryan Yousefi is a freelance writer for Miami New Times, a lover of sports, and an expert consumer of craft beer and pho. Hanley Ramirez once stole a baseball from him and to this day still owes him $10.

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