Gruman: The Miami Heat's superstars are downright incendiary when they play with focus.
By ANDREW GRUMANFS Wisconsin
To put into context the challenge any team faces in a seven-game series against the
Heat, just take a gander at
Miami's regular-season results. The Heat lost just four times in their last 41 games – dating back to Jan. 27 - with one of those losses coming without LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on the floor.
Any team that plans on knocking out the defending NBA champions must find a way to beat them four times in seven games. It would be a monumental feat for anyone in the Eastern Conference to prevent Miami from having a chance to defend its crown in the NBA Finals, and the
Milwaukee Bucks just happen to be the first team to find out why.
In Game 1, the Bucks hung with the Heat for one half before things quickly got out of hand. Tuesday night, it took less than three minutes for Miami to turn a close game into a rout. One stretch of sloppy play and lackadaisical effort on the defensive glass and the Bucks felt the wrath of a 12-0 Miami run. From there, the Heat built a 19-point lead and cruised to a 98-86 victory.
For 36 minutes, the crowd was a nonfactor at American Airlines Arena. Only when James got a technical that he later talked his way out of did the Heat faithful really get into the game.
It was almost as if the Heat realized they had let the Bucks hang around too long, close enough where an upset could have happened if things broke right, when they flipped the switch. For a team like the Bucks to have a chance to take one game from the Heat, they have to play nearly perfect basketball for the entire game. One lapse, one stretch of turnovers, bad shots or failure to rebound is all Miami needs to go on a demoralizing run.
If the Bucks get a strong performance from Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis and others step up to support the two guards, Milwaukee might have a chance to steal a game on its home court. But that's just one game.
But forget about the Bucks for a minute. The way Miami is playing right now, can anybody beat the Heat in a seven-game series? Not in the East. The Heat are just too talented and too deep.
James is the best player in the world, but he's playing at an efficiency level that's impressive even by his standards. The Bucks held him to 19 points Tuesday, but it didn't matter.
If anyone is going to beat Miami, they are going to have to limit turnovers, hit 3-pointers and somehow match the "turn it up a notch" ability the Heat have. Do all three, and a team would still need Miami to beat itself in certain areas.
Yes, it's that difficult to beat the Heat once. Good luck trying to do it four times in seven tries. Miami is on its way to defending its title. Unfortunately for the Bucks, they were unable to avoid being in the way of the most talented team in the world still on a mission.