Tuesday, March 16, 2010

For Heat, Positioning is Key

March 16, 2010

With fourteen games left in the season, the Miami Heat find themselves in the final stretch of the playoff push; scrapping to hold on to a spot in the postseason and hoping to work their way up the seeding ladder. But will seeding at a higher spot benefit or harm Miami? The answer is: it's a delicate situation.

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.

Now if Atlanta was Miami's first round opponent the match-up would be a toss up as it was last season, when the series between the two extended to a game seven. The current season series between Miami and Atlanta stands at 3-1, with the average game being decided by 14 points; a strikingly similar outcome to their 2009 playoff series.

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.

Dropping to the eighth seed would be a death sentence in the form of a likely Cleveland Cavaliers series sweep, while rising to the fifth seed would potentially be another early exit series against the Boston Celtics; both of which have the Heat's 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.

No comments:

Image Disclaimer

The photos used on this site are not the property of Miami Sports Generation, unless otherwise defined by our logo. The rightful owners of these photos deserve all the credit for their work.