Five reasons to watch the NBA playoffs even though the Miami Heat are not in them

For the first time, both LeBron James and Dwyane Wade will be playing for teams other than the Miami Heat in the playoffs. (AP Photo)

The NBA playoffs start Saturday and the disappointment of the Miami Heat not being part of the postseason still is fresh in the minds of the South Florida sports fan.

But, the show must go on and the league usually gives us an entertaining two month run of postseason games.

Although many believe this all we come down to a third consecutive meeting between the Cavaliers and Warriors in the Finals, nothing is guaranteed, which is why there still are plenty of reason to watch from the start.

We give you five of those reasons.

Is LeBron’s run over?: The Cavaliers have left themselves no excuses not to get to the Finals. Cleveland conceded the top spot in the East by resting LeBron James and Kyrie Irving the final two games of the season, which means it’s Finals or bust to justify the move. And if Cleveland is in a Game 7 in Boston in the Eastern Conference finals, the pressure to win will be enormous. But for James to get there for a seventh consecutive year and for Cleveland to repeat as champions, the Cavs will have to fix a defense that sprung a leak and was among the worst in the league the final six weeks of the season.

How far will Dwyane Wade and the Bulls go?: Despite finishing with the same regular-season record as Miami, Chicago made it to the playoffs as the Eastern Conference’s eighth seed due to a head-to-head tiebreaker. Wade and the Bulls will take on the top-seeded Celtics in a first-round series that begins with Game 1 on Sunday in Boston. The Celtics are the clear favorites to win the series, but Wade, playing in the postseason for the first time in his 14-year career with a team other than the Heat, isn’t used to an early playoff exit. Wade was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs three times in his 13 seasons with the Heat.

Can the Warriors avenge last season’s Finals loss?: Golden State finished the regular season with the NBA’s best record at 67-15. But the Warriors’ road back to the Finals won’t be easy, as a matchup with the dangerous Spurs could await them in the Western Conference Finals. With Kevin Durant now on the roster to go along with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, Golden State has the most talented roster in the NBA. But will it be enough for the Warriors to make up for last season’s disappointing loss to the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals?

Are the Celtics fraudulent?: Boston finished 53-29, its best record since winning 56 games since 2010-11. Still, the Celtics were gifted the No. 1 seed in the East by the Cavaliers and they have not been the pillar of consistency with a 4-4 stretch in early March, then losing 3-of-5 in late March and early April. And while Isaiah Thomas will receive some MVP love – by that I mean he could be could sneak in to the Top 5 of the voting – can a team led by a 5-foot-9 guard truly be a title contender?

Which MVP candidate will advance?: The MVP race is down to OKC’s Russell Westbrook and Houston’s James Harden and the two will face off in the most entertaining first round matchup of the playoffs. Westbrook led the league in scoring and is the first player to average a triple double in 55 years. Harden led the league in assists and was second in scoring. Between them they averaged 60.7 points, 21.6 assists and 18.8 rebounds and combined for 64 triple doubles. This series will be the ultimate one-on-one battle and it will be fun.

[The captain speaks: Udonis Haslem discusses how special this Heat team was, his future, and Erik Spoelstra]

[Five that got away: Heat can look back at these five games in season that ended one win shy of playoffs]

[Miami Heat: Five burning questions entering the offseason]

[Want more Heat news sent directly to your Facebook feed? Make sure to like our Heat Facebook page]

 

Reader Comments 0

0 comments