The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

April 19, 2013

Is there a challenge for Heat in NBA playoffs?

Looking for a reason not to pick the Miami Heat to win another NBA title?

Don't check the odds, where the Heat are such an overwhelming favorite that it might as well be Tiger Woods against a weekend hacker.

Definitely don't bother with the Heat's results, which show exactly three losses since the start of February.

And certainly don't look on the court, where LeBron James sent season-long reminders that he's better than ever and already the best in the world.

The only people who might really believe in caution are the Heat themselves.

"There's going to be trials and tribulations no matter what, no matter how good of a team you are," Dwyane Wade said. "There's going to be a moment in the playoffs where our back is going to be against the wall. And I think everything we've done this season will prepare us for that moment. We have a goal, just like every other team that gets into the playoffs, to win a championship. But we understand the process that it takes."

It starts Saturday, when the playoffs start with four first-round games. The Heat will open Sunday against Milwaukee in what's expected to be a quick series.

Then it will be up to someone like the Knicks, Thunder, Spurs, or some other contender, to prove that the next two months aren't just a formality.

"They've had the best record and they're the defending champs so they're the team to beat, but I don't think it's much beyond that," Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "I mean, give them their due. They have the best record and they're the defending champs, so they're the team that you need to beat, but no, I don't think anybody is head and shoulders over any. There's too many good teams."

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