After closing out Brooklyn in five games, the Miami Heat find themselves back in the Eastern Conference Finals for the fourth straight year. They have advanced to the championship round for three straight years, winning series against the Thunder and Spurs for repeat titles after falling to Dallas in 2011. The Heat’s struggles at the end of the regular season had many National Basketball Association experts wondering about the club’s title prospects in 2014.
A quick dispatch of the Nets combined with the struggles of Indiana and Washington has Miami looking like clear favorites to return to the NBA Finals. Do the Heat have a three-peat in them? Here are five signs that suggest they are more than capable of running the table again in 2014.
1. Dwayne Wade is coming up huge at home
Looking at the stat sheet at halftime of Miami’s closeout Game 5 against Brooklyn, you’ll see Wade with 20 points already on the board. He finished with 29. After LeBron’s mammoth, taxing performance in Game 4 (49 points), he could have used the help. Wade delivered. This balance to Miami’s attack was the point of bringing Chris Bosh, Wade, and James together. When Wade shows flashes of his old swagger, the Heat present an enormous problem for opponents.
At the moment, Wade seems more comfortable at home, notching his best games at American Airlines Arena versus the Bobcats (Game 1, 23 points) and Brooklyn (Game 5, 29 points). LeBron has no problem delivering on the road. The best playoff games in James’s career have come while away, including his mammoth 45 points and 15 rebounds in Game 6 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals against Boston. He can handle that pressure. If Wade can continue to perform in Miami, the Heat have the answer home or away.