They’re confident and they should be. Photo Credit: Mark Runyon, Basketball Schedule
The Miami Heat are cruising in the Eastern Conference and have become the clear-cut favorites to win the 2013 NBA championship. At 42-14 with a 13-game winning streak, the Heat are in the zone and can’t currently be stopped. Over their last 10 games, only Oklahoma City (+32.5) and Indiana (+31.6) have a better difference in efficiency than the Heat’s +29.9. Let’s take a look at five more reasons why they’re the favorites.
They’re Separating Themselves From The Pack
They have a commanding 9.5 game lead in the Southeast Division over the Atlanta Hawks and a 6.5 game lead over the New York Knicks for the No. 1 overall seed. With just 26 games remaining, it’s going to be extremely difficult for any team to catch the Heat.
The No. 1 seed means home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, where the Heat are a league-best 26-3 this season.
Locking up that No. 1 seed early means they’ll be able to get some rest before the playoffs begin. They’ll get enough work to be sharp, but they won’t be wearing their bodies down in the same way as if they were chasing the No. 1 seed.
LeBron James Is The Best Player In The NBA
Your 2013 MVP. Photo Credit: Mark Runyon, Basketball Schedule
The Heat have arguably the best one-two punch in the league with Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. There’s little question that James is the best player in the league right now, as evidenced by his current statistics:
He’s on pace to lead the league in efficiency for the sixth consecutive year and he leads the league in offensive win shares, win shares and win shares per-48 minutes. His shooting line is a ludicrous 56.4/41.3/75.1 for the season and a remarkable 62.6/44.4/79.3 over the Heat’s 13-game winning streak.
In a league of stars, it’s James that stands out above everyone else. It looked like Kevin Durant might be knocking on the door, but James has since slammed that door shut and put an industrial-strength lock on it. Nobody’s taking the MVP away from James this year.
They Have Veterans They Can Count On
Who better to make big playoff shots than Ray Allen? Photo Credit: Mark Runyon, Basketball Schedule
One of the reasons James couldn’t win a championship in Cleveland was his surrounding cast. He can only give guys the open opportunities – he can’t make the shots for them. That’s why they went out to get Ray Allen.
In addition to Allen, the Heat have picked up some important role players, including Chris Andersen and Juwan Howard. These are big guys who can still contribute in their own way, without the need for offensive touches. Andersen has been a godsend so far and Howard will provide some much-needed frontcourt depth.
Rashard Lewis has been somewhat of a bust, but he can still be relied upon to stretch the floor with his three-point making ability (42 percent this year).
Dwyane Wade Is Back As Flash
Flash is back. Photo Credit: Mark Runyon, Basketball Schedule
Wade has had his fair share of criticism over the past few years, even though the Heat have made consecutive trips to the NBA Finals. He’s been seen pouting over foul calls, arguing with Erik Spoelstra and he’s struggled with nagging injuries.
As of late, Wade has turned back into the player he used to be. He and James have a chemistry that’s beyond any in the NBA right now.
During the current winning streak, Wade is averaging 24.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 2.5 steals and 1.2 blocks while shooting 54 percent from the field. If not for James, he’d be an MVP candidate with those numbers.
They’re Loose And Enjoying The Ride
Ever notice how the best teams in the league seem to have fun on the court and genuinely appear to like each other?
If this doesn’t convince you of how loose and confident they are, then nothing will.