Mar 16, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat guard Norris Cole (left) chats with teammate guard Ray Allen (right) during the second half against the Houston Rockets at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Playoffs: Miami Heat’s Ambitions

With the NBA playoffs almost among us, each of the sixteen teams who will eventually make up the post season will have dreams of going all the way and be crowned the NBA Champions of this season. Of course for some this is still merely a pipe dream, while for others it is the absolute end goal, with any other result deemed a failure. With that in mind we take a quick and lighthearted look at how each team can potentially do once the playoffs start.

The Miami Heat are two time defending champions for a reason. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Why They Can Win It All

Although much fanfare has surrounded the amazing year Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder has had, people forget that LeBron is having a pretty useful year himself. The only problem is that James has been playing on another level for so long that people take his efforts for granted. Make no mistake, when the playoffs tip off this guy, along with the entire Heat team, will take their play to another level.

Key bench guys such as Ray Allen and Shane Battier have seen it all before, and know what it takes to scale the mountain once more. Chris Bosh is forever ridiculed as being on a level below both James and Dwyane Wade, but in fact he is the potential key for this team. His three ball is as powerful a weapon as it has ever been and his length is vital for a team that is small in a lot of other areas. He too has seen it all before and that mental toughness alone will give him the edge over some match ups. The Michael Beasley experiment may not have worked out, but they can’t all be home runs.

Why They Might Exit Early

This team is not going to bow out in the first round or anything like that, but age and a hunger to win are two glaring obstacles that need to be overcome. To this point in April, the team is 7-7 as well, hardly on a roll heading into the postseason. When you’re the two time defending champion though, opponents see you as the standard by which they have to get to in order to become top dogs.

Getting that intensity thrown at you every night will be tough, and this is where age and general wear and team become factors. Worse than that though, is the fact that this is the worst rebounding team in the entire league, posting an average of 36.9 per game. Wade can no longer be trusted to make huge and constant contributions to this team given the state of his knees anymore either. Capable of big games yes, but at some point he’ll miss a game or three. Battier and particularly Allen are no spring chickens, while some Heat fans seem to think that Oden will suddenly play forty plus minutes in the playoffs. That’s not going to happen and while he may make a key basket or grab a big rebound, he is not the answer. This team has coasted through the campaign this year and looked out of the sync for large parts while doing it, and that chemistry and ability to trust in one another cannot simply be turned on at a moment’s notice.

Potential X-Factor(s)

Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole. Chalmers seems to relish the big occasion and is a serviceable point guard, while the energy and general underrated play of Norris will be badly needed for this team during lean stretches of play. You’d almost forget, but Chalmers is twenty-seven now, and has seen it all in his time in the league. His 4.9 assists this season aren’t too bad either, especially when you consider the ball isn’t in his hands as often as it is for other point guards. Scoring just shy of 10 points a game in the regular season mirrors that of the last two championship winning years for this team. When the playoffs begin, while his scoring doesn’t go up by a lot (9.4 points a game last year in the playoffs and 11.3 the year before that.) he has the habit of getting those points when it really counts for this team.

Cole is a stopgap player who keeps momentum rolling. He averaged 19.9 minutes in the playoffs last time out, but it was his ability to seamlessly continue the work the Heat were doing on the floor that made him valuable to this team in crunch time. All he’s ever known is winning too having won back to back titles his first two years in this league. An increase on his regular season average of 6.6 points and 3 assists would be an added bonus though.

Could this be LeBron James‘ last year as a Heat player? Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

How They’ll Do 

Conference Finals at the very minimum, although don’t be surprised to see them win it all once again as King James really cements his legacy as one of the all time greats. Whatever happens though, this could very well be the last ride for the current incarnation of this team, so they will be doing their best to end this season on their terms once more.

Tags: 2014 NBA Playoffs Lebron James Miami Heat