The day is almost here. After one of the most scrutinized regular seasons afforded to any team in just about all of NBA history the Miami Heat are set to play their first play-off game with LeBron James and Chris Bosh joining Dwyane Wade in red and black tomorrow. They'll face off at home against the Philedelphia 76ers. Let's not write that series off, but no one is really asking if the Heat can beat the Sixers. Everyone is wondering if they have an actual chance to win the whole thing.
It's easy to gloss over the first round series against the 76ers. They finished at exactly .500 compared to Miami's .707, and the Heat swept them 3-0 in regular season play. Anything short of a sweep could be spun as some sort of disappointment, and no sane observer outside of the good city of Philly is predicting the Sixers to advance. However, let's also remember that the Heat haven't won a single post-season series since 2006 -- the year they won it all. They have a pretty disastrous 12-4 post-season record since then.
True, it's a hell of a different team now-a-days, but taking this series seriously and pulling out would should be a relatively-easy (as far as playoffs go) win would be a big step as far as recent franchise history is concerned.
If that happens, then the Heat enter the conference semi-finals and things start to get interesting. They'll either face the New York Knicks (who have managed to string together a series of superstars in their own right, but with not quite the same results) and the Boston Celtics (who I've seen several Miami sports fan quips are starting to overtake the New York Jets as the most hated sports franchise in South Florida).
The Heat are 2-2 against the Knicks this season, and lost the only game the two teams played once Carmello Anthony found himself in a New York state of mind (and that was in Miami). It would be an interesting series, but Boston should have New Yorks number in the first round.
Miami went 1-3 against Boston in the regular season, but that only win came just 5 days ago. At 100-77 it was hardly even a contest. That's not to say a Boston series would be a cake walk. Far from it, but the momentum heading in would definitely be in the Heat's favor (especially if the Knicks manage to give the Celts a rough time).
Next up is the conference finals. We can't guarantee the Heat would then face the Chicago Bulls if they made it that far, but we'd be damned surprised if they didn't. A Miami-Orlando conference final would be interesting (and a point of Florida pride) and favorable to the Heat, but we just don't see it happening.
Miami's 0-3 record against the Bulls this year is somewhat deceiving in that all those games have been relatively close, but the Heat are really going to have to dig deep to pull it out. We don't want to dismiss the Western Conference, but this theoretical match-up could be the hardest Miami could potentially face during the entire playoffs.
It's almost ridiculous at this point to try and predict the finals should the Heat make it that far, but we'll leave you with the Heat's regular season record against the Western Conference's top four seeds in the regular season:
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- San Antonio: 1-1
- Los Angeles Lakers: 2-0
- Dallas: 0-2
- Oklahoma City: 1-1
Obviously an LA Lakers vs. Miami Heat NBA Finals is the match-up that TV executives are dreaming of (and every other fan in every other city is dreading), and given the regular season records here, the one Heat fans would like to see the most. Hey, who doesn't want to knock off last season's champs? But regular season records are far from the only thing to be considered.
We're getting a head of ourselves, and like we said, all we really want to see now is the Heat give us that playoff series win we haven't seen since 2006 (and, oh, OK, a couple of other things we haven't seen since 2006 either, but again, ahead of ourselves).