As we play through the final stretch of regular season games, thanks to the return of LeBron James the Cleveland Cavaliers are sittin’ pretty at the number two seed. If the playoffs started tonight, we’d joust with the Miami Heat in the first round. The Heat are currently 1.5 games ahead of the Celtics. The following reasons are why the Heat scare me in a seven game series.

#1 LeBron and DWade’s love-fest.

Every time the Cavs and the Heat have played this year, it seems that LeBron has been more focused on hangin’ out with DWade than actually winning a basketball game. For some reason, his competitive spirit is dampened a bit when he plays against his buddy/former teammate. This may be attributed to the broadcast constantly focusing in on the two, but it does feel like LBJ pays a lot of attention to Wade instead of the task at hand.

#2 Playing in Miami is weird.

This ties in to reason number one, but the Cavs have lost both games in Miami against the Heat this year. Coming back to Cleveland, LeBron thrived as the villain. His first game in late 2010 had him drop 38 points as the Heat routed the depleted Cavs.

In Miami, it’s a different story. He lacks an identity. Sure, he was the guy that brought them two titles and took them to four straight finals appearances. But, he’s also the guy the left them to go back home. Some Miami fans love him still, others do not.

This unusual disposition by his former fan base makes him uneasy. It reflects him play, and how he feels when he does again “take his talents to South Beach.

#3 Dragic + Whiteside + Healthy Wade for a full season = not a 7 seed.

Despite the devestating loss of Chris Bosh for the rest of the season, this Heat squad has improve from where they were when LeBron left them. The Heat traded Danny Granger, Norris Cole, Shawne Williams and Justin Hamilton all for Suns point guard Gordan Dragic and his lesser brother (basketball wise) Zoran.

Goran Dragic, as a member of the Heat is averaging 16 points, 5.4 assists and 3.6 rebounds per contest. A helluva upgrade for the serviceable Mario Chalmers.

Hassan Whiteside broke onto the scene when he blocked 12 shots in a win against the Chicago Bulls towards the end of January. This journeyman that once had the worst rating in NBA 2k15 is now a dangerous threat in the middle. He has been consistent throughout the rest of the reason. For the year, he averages 11 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks. Whiteside is currently out with a hand injury.

We all know how good Dwayne Wade has been throughout this NBA career, but the man is aging. Sadly for us Cavs fans, he’s still got it. This year, he’s averaging 21.8 points, 5.1 assists and 3.6 rebounds a night. Oh, and in his two games against the Cavs he averages 31.5 points.

If these three played together for an entire season at their current level, they’re higher than a seven see

#4 Heat are the team likely to scare the new-playoffees 

 

Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson and others have never played a game in the playoffs. Others such as Iman Shumpert and Timofey Mozgov haven’t been deep in the playoffs.

The first round would be perfect for the Cavaliers to collectively get their feet wet, cleaning up all of the mistakes they may make before the second round while still cruising the victory against a lesser opponent.

The Miami Heat are the most likely to steal and early game from the Cavs, putting the pressure on the new playoff players right off the bat.

Do I think the Heat could beat the Cavaliers in a seven game series? No. However, they’re the team to give them the biggest test compared to Boston or New Orleans per-say. The Cavaliers play against Boston twice and Miami once more this season. A win against Miami and and two losses against Boston would give the Celtics a better chance to climb up to the seven seed.

As a Cavs fan, you want this first round of the playoffs to be as easy as possible.

-Zach Shafron

 

 

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