Imperfect Heat Should Roll Through East

Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

This season has operated under the assumption that the Eastern Conference is Miami’s to lose, and though the Heat’s interest has waxed and waned through their first 38 games, there’s no reason to abandon that premise yet. They’ve experienced some setbacks, but a motivational downswing is not unusual for a highly talented team in a title-defending regular season. The prize has already been won, and though the Heat are clearly interested in a repeat, they’re certainly not above biding their time — in the spirit of title teams past — until the framework of a seven-game series instills the basis for effort and order.

For now, the Heat are viewed as a team lacking in defensive focus and rebounding efficacy that nonetheless boasts the...

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