Monday, January 27, 2014

Uneasy Lies the Head That Wears the Crown

Ayo listen here, Bey. You come at the King, you best not miss.

-- Omar Little, The Wire

But you've survived because you've been protected by the strong. But they're not strong anymore.

-- Sgt. Nathan Leckie, Animal Kingdom

The Miami Heat beat the San Antonio Spurs in a Sunday afternoon rematch of last year's amazing NBA Finals. Everybody clap, roll on snare drum. The Heat are 2 games improved on their regular-season record of this time last year, yet questions linger. Can the Heat three-peat? My sources -- a Magic 8-Ball that I stole from a homeless man's bindle and the three dollars I won at scratch tickets -- say "maybe."

Ingredients required:

1) Health. Can Wade's knees hold up? Can Greg Oden's*? The Heat's success is predicated on its roster being 100%. That's a house of cards.

2) The Heat have to make it to the Finals to try to win a third straight championship. That's not guaranteed. Everyone is predicting a Heat-Pacers Eastern Conference Finals, and that's not guaranteed, either. As of right now, the Heat are the No. 2 seed in the East and the Nets are No. 7. That possible match-up in the first round of the playoffs terrifies me, not only because of the Nets' combined veteran talent, but also because I suspect the officiating in Brooklyn has been influenced by outside factors.

3) Home court advantage. Jeff Van Gundy said during the game that the Pacers have the first seed locked barring a "huge setback," which, as much as I love JVG, is one of the stupider things -- no, make it the stupidest thing -- he's ever said. The Heat are 2 and 1/2 games behind Indiana. Midway through the season. Surely that's insurmountable. /s

Can the Heat beat the Pacers without home-court advantage? Maybe? Hopefully, if that's the case. I expect the Pacers will swoon a bit over the next two months, but that's just a guess.

* I think the Heat can win another title without Oden -- I just want the guy to be able to play and be productive.

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