Usually that top seed is what everyone is after, you get home-advantage through to the Conference Finals and the benefit of playing the eighth seed during the first round.
However this year is a little different: On the surface there is very little between the eighth and seventh seed in the east.
The Atlanta Hawks have secured the eighth spot, despite claiming that they weren’t particularly interested in making the playoffs.
Charlotte have the seventh seed and the Heat have already shown their class against the Bobcats this season, with LeBron James dropping 61 points on their sorry defense.
The main factor in the Heat settling for second however, comes in the shape of the fourth and fifth seeds.
Currently the Chicago Bulls and Brooklyn Nets respectively hold those positions and, save for a last day surprise, it is likely to stay that way.
Both the Bulls and Nets have shown themselves in the second half of the season to be fierce competitors.
The Bulls have won 21 games since the All-Star Break whilst the Nets have won 20, compare that to Miami’s 17 and Indiana’s 15 and it’s pretty clear who the hot teams are.
Indiana as the top seed, will face the winner of this matchup should they defeat the Hawks whilst Miami’s road to the conference finals will go through either Toronto or Washington if (or when) they beat the Bobcats.
Obviously by finishing in second, the Heat do forfeit home-court advantage in an Eastern Conference finals which is expected to be against Indiana.
However, with the experience of two straight NBA titles behind them, the Heat should be able to overcome that.
What the beat-up Heat don’t need however is for Dwyane Wade and LeBron James to be sapped of energy against the Bulls or Nets in a tough series.
The Heat’s plan makes sense, but the question is can they deliver?
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