As of right now, the Miami Heat (34-11) are 3 games behind the Chicago Bulls for the 1st spot in the Eastern Conference. At the number two seed, the Heat would be facing the Boston Celtics, but scenarios change and it’s possible that the Heat move to the one seed and that the bottom of the conference scrambles for the last few spots. Let’s take a look at the possible scenarios:
Vs. Boston Celtics (24-21, #7 in East): While the Celtics can be dangerous at times, they’re very old besides Rajon Rondo and Brandon Bass. Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen are all heading into their late 30s, they’re heading for a rebuilding stage. Unless they can pull of heroics, the Celtics would not be able to beat Miami in a 7-game series. They lack the necessary depth and Rondo is their only advantage.
Vs. Atlanta Hawks (27-20, #6 in East): The Hawks have played tough this year considering they have had injuries to Al Horford and other players and Jamal Crawford left. Josh Smith, Joe Johnson and occasionally, Tracy McGrady, have taken control of this team. They’re athletic, but the Heat can match up with them. Unless Horford comes back for the playoffs, Miami will not have any problems with their size. The Hawks can never go far in the playoffs either.
Vs. New York Knicks (23-24, #8 in East): While the Knicks record doesn’t show their capability, they’re on the rise. New York is 5-0 since Mike Woodson took over and they now play defense. Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire have bought into the system, and Jeremy Lin is fitting in perfectly. The Knicks are looking feisty and I feel that if the Heat were to meet them, it’d be as a 7th seed. The Knicks vs. Heat playoff rivalry may be coming back soon.
Vs. Milwaukee Bucks (21-24, #9 in East): You can’t count the Milwaukee Bucks out just yet. After trading Andrew Bogut for Monta’ Ellis, their goal was to put points on the board, and Ellis brings that to the table. Teamed with Brandon Jennings, the two can combine for over 60+ per night if they wanted to. Drew Gooden, on his 9th NBA team in 9 seasons, has emerged as an excellent scoring option for them and was named this week’s NBA player of the week. They got the Stephen Jackson problem out of the way, and have been treated to great play from Carlos Delfino and Ersan Ilyasova. While I don’t expect the Bucks to compete with the Heat in the playoffs, even though they have played them very well during the regular season, I do expect Milwaukee to make the playoffs and fight.
Whoever the Heat play, Miami knows that it has a target on its’ back. Miami just needs to get in a rhythm going into the playoffs and show that they can blow these teams out easily. It is important that Erik Spoelstra gives the Big Three a break, since it seemed like they got tired last year.
Who do you think the Heat will play in the 1st round and what seed do you expect Miami to be?