Can we write off the Heat?

Posted: 06/15/2014 by levcohen in Basketball

It feels like, along with the start of the World Cup and the end of the Stanley Cup final, the last three days have consisted of a lot of eulogizing of the Miami Heat. After two home blowouts (19 and 21 points), it’s hard not to write the Heat off. They are clearly the lesser team, and their age has shown this series. This team has gone deep into the playoffs in each of the last four years now, and their stars are clearly tired. They have had to lift the team onto their backs in the regular season, and they have in the playoffs. The Spurs are simply deeper, fresher, and, perhaps most surprisingly, more hungry for the championship. The series is now 3-1, and the series heads back to San Antonio tonight. It seems like this series is for all intents and purposes over, and the Spurs are going to get their revenge on their home court in game five. But is it safe to write off LeBron James and the Heat?

The one word answer is no. This series feels over, but I’m not going to be a prisoner of the moment. No team has come back from a 3-1 deficit, and it’s not likely to happen now, but this series is not over. Just look at what the Heat have to do. They must win in San Antonio in game five. While that seems like a tough ask, remember that they outplayed the Spurs in San Antonio in games one and two, and that the Spurs are a better road team than they are a home team. And can you imagine what would happen if LeBron were to have a big game five and the Heat were to win? The media would do a 180. People would start to talk about last year, when the Spurs led 3-2 heading to Miami. And the Heat would start to gain some momentum. It’s not far-fetched to see the more desperate team- Miami- finally win at home in game six and send it back to San Antonio. And game seven’s are tossups.

Do I think the Heat are going to come back and win the series? No I don’t. But do I think they’ll win game five? I feel pretty good about their chances. The extra night of rest is going to be better for them than it will be for the Spurs, and I think Dwyane Wade will step up in game five, if only because it’s an elimination game and he must step up. In the end, the Spurs are still very likely to win this series, and I would pick them to win in South Beach in game six, which would be especially significant because of what happened in South Beach in game six last season. But the Heat have been totally written off, and most people think this series will end in San Antonio. It’s very possible, as the Spurs are the better, deeper, and fresher team. I just don’t think it’s wise to write off the team with the best player in the world. So while it doesn’t look good for the Heat right now, I don’t think this series is over. If the Heat win game five, and I think that is likely, the momentum (if momentum is a real thing) will shift, and suddenly Miami will be the best team in the NBA again. I wouldn’t write them off, at least until they’re down double digits in the fourth quarter of game five.

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