LeBron James and the No. 1 seed Miami Heat (60-16) will play host the No. 8 seed Milwaukee Bucks (37-39) on Tuesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. So it will be a legitimate preview of the potential first-round series in the 2013 NBA Playoffs, right? Hardly.
The NBA season is a marathon, and at this point in the year people run out of interesting things to say. You will no doubt see and hear a variety of silly arguments and assertions that this game means something in relation to the opening round series these teams seem destined to play. Here's a guide to help you cut through the rhetoric and emerge with a better perspective.
Silly Argument No. 1: The Heat are Looking to Make a Statement to the Bucks
The New York Knicks have rattled off 12 straight wins, and yet the Miami Heat are still 10 games up on the Knicks for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. The San Antonio Spurs (57-20) have won an astounding 74 percent of their games, and yet Miami owns the best record in the NBA by a comfortable margin. Kevin Durant has posted a 27.97 PER and scored 28.4 points per game on 64.3 percent true shooting, and yet LeBron James is the hands-down pick for the MVP. If the Heat were out to send a message, they did so in the first 76 games of the year...very loudly and very clearly.
LBJ and company are on a mission to win an NBA championship. They aren't in the business of sending direct messages to sub-.500 teams like the Bucks. If Milwaukee is the city on the schedule in the opening round, they will treat it like a tour date: just a stop along the way towards bigger and better things.
Silly Argument No. 2: The Bucks Can Make a Statement to the Heat
As previously mentioned, the Heat are 10 games up on the Knicks for the top seed and focused solely on defending their title. They don't care at all about the outcome of game No. 77 on their schedule. A win doesn't matter. A loss doesn't matter. Dwyane Wade (ankle) probably won't play. They don't fear the Bucks at all.
Even if Milwaukee plays an excellent game and pulls off an upset -- Miami is 33-4 at home this year -- don't buy in to the "they sent a message" rhetoric. The Bucks can't send a message, because top-tier teams like the Heat aren't listening.
Silly Argument No. 3: The Bucks are a matchup problem for the Heat
First of all, LeBron James. Second of all, the Heat are significantly better than the Bucks at every aspect of basketball except offensive rebounds, and Miami makes up for that by being the best offensive team in the association with the highest TS% in the land.
|Restricted Area FG%||66.90%||55.80%|
|Restricted FG% Allowed||57.40%||56.70%|
The Bucks aren't a matchup problem for the Heat. They are a motivation problem.
Silly Argument No. 4: The Bucks are Making a Run at the No. 7 Seed
We need to declare a moratorium on all seventh seed talk until the Bucks get over .500. It's just that simple.