March 16, 2010
Currently holding the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, Miami would face the Orlando Magic if the playoffs were held tomorrow. Owning the season series thus far, the Heat have matched up well versus the Magic with a record of 2-1. Despite Orlando being the defending Eastern Conference Champions, they have had difficulty in dominating Miami with their size and length. Conversely, Miami has found ways of containing the perimeter and post offense of the Magic. Analysts might argue that the Heat are no match for the Magic in a seven-game series, but underestimating matchups can be very dangerous in this league.
But the season is not over and playoff spots are not yet solidified, meaning Miami could still potentially drop, raise or keep their spot. With the revolving door that is the bottom half of the East, there could be plenty of shuffling in the final games of the season. Even the three and four seeds can be flipped with Atlanta and Boston at any moment. In essence, the playoff picture is still too blurry to define.
But for the sake of discussion we will assume that the East's top four seeds will stay put while other teams continue to vie for position in the bottom four.
With that said, it would be beneficial for Miami to either secure as high as a sixth seed and as low as a seventh seed. Nothing higher, nothing lower.
At the seventh spot Miami would face Orlando, while at the sixth spot Miami would face Atlanta; both of which the Heat have their number.
Against the Hawks and Magic, Miami holds a record of 5-2. Against the Cavaliers and Celtics, Miami posts a record of 0-6. The numbers speak for themselves.
The point: If Miami wishes to advance beyond the opening round, they must carefully position themselves in the Eastern Conference standings.