Miami Heat. You cringed a little bit didn’t you?
Has there ever been a team in professional sports that has been so easy to hate?
Oh sure, you can go down the list and find fans that hate their team’s rivals, but it would be hard to match the overall despise of the Heat found around the country.
I’m not sure I can blame the popular vote:
Please note at 0:47 Lebron uses the word easy.
Well, when it comes down to the 2012 NBA Playoffs, I don’t think an easier path to the Finals could have been laid in front of King James.
Exhibit A: Iman Shumpert, Amare Stoudemire, Baron Davis
The Heat drew a match up with the New York Knicks in the first round, where Knicks rookie guard Iman Shumpert tore an ACL in game one. I’m not saying New York would have won the series with him, in fact they were in the process of being routed when the injury occurred. However, it did take away the Knicks best defender and leave the team absolutely depleted at the point guard spot after injuries to Baron Davis and Jeremy Lin. The Davis injury occurred in game four and with an elimination game looming. So the reigns were turned over to Mike Bibby. A playoff series where you need to lean on third and fourth string point guards is never a great a sign.
Also, who can forget the fire extinguisher that apparently tossed a “your momma” joke at Amare Stoudemire that ended up with a broken glass face? After a game two loss Stoudemire let his emotions get the better of him and threw a haymaker at the fire extinguisher, lacerating his hand and in result had to miss game three with the Knicks already down 2-0. The Knicks lost game three without him and were doomed to the historical black hole series count of 3-0.
So just to recap the Knicks: missing their best defender, pretty much all their point guard production, and a super star that had to sit out a pivotal game three with an injury from a public safety device.
Exhibit B: Dwight Howard
Orlando Magic star and center Dwight Howard underwent season-ending back surgery in April. If you were to ask any basketball analyst for a team other than the Chicago Bulls that could bounce the Heat in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, they would have undoubtedly said the Magic. However, for the Magic to be the Magic, they need Dwight Howard. This was painfully obvious in Orlando’s series against the Indiana Pacers. Without him, the Pacers own all-star center Roy Hibbert, and veteran forward David West had their way with Orlando ending the series 3-1. So now, the Heat’s second round matchup is with the upstart Pacers, not the Dwight Howard led Magic.
I know the Pacers have made huge strides this year, but don’t make the argument to me that they are a better team than the Orlando Magic with Howard in the middle. Just don’t.
Exhibit C: Derrick Rose
Torn ACL’s were a fad in the beginning of the Eastern Conference playoffs and Rose was no exception. The then reigning MVP went down in the final minutes of a game one win over the Philadelphia 76ers, and ended his playoffs. Long story short, the 76ers capitalized on the Rose injury (as well as one to Joakim Noah) and were one of the very few number eight seeds to overcome a one seed and advance.
The point is simple, Chicago was a favorite in the East and a huge threat to the Heat when the two were supposed to meet up in the conference finals. Now instead, the Heat if they make it past their series with the Pacers (I do say if, as I’m writing this the series is tied 1-1 and heading back to Indianapolis tonight), will most likely end up playing the aged Celtics.
The Celtics are a historically great team, but the Bulls-Heat matchup is the one that everyone expected and the one that would have given Miami more trouble.
The one excuse the Heat have now is the injury to Chris Bosh. The same Chris Bosh that no one talks about, or in all seriousness cares about until he’s not in the lineup.
But, you’re LeBron James and Dwayne Wade. You don’t have excuses.
So in theory, the road to finals cannot be more easy for Miami.
Injury ridden Knicks, Pacers, most likely the Celtics, no Derrick Rose, no Dwight Howard. And after all that the Heat only have to beat the best team in the Western Conference. Easy right?
One down, at least seven more to go.