There’s no selection show in the NBA.
The brackets are set not by evaluation and debate, but by the cold, hard results of each team’s 82 contests. And, with just over a week left in the regular season, the Heat’s bracket could hardly be working out better.
Miami’s most daunting opponent on its path to the Eastern Conference finals?
Overconfidence.
Barring a Boston collapse – which appears less likely with Celtics coach Doc Rivers acknowledging that he would prefer to avoid the Heat – Miami’s opponent Tuesday night, Milwaukee, will also be its first-round opponent as the No. 8 seed.
The Bucks, who haven’t won a playoff series since 2001, when Ray Allen was their leading scorer, would be among the most overwhelming underdogs in NBA history.
And the second round?
The Heat would play the winner between the No. 4 and 5 seeds. Currently, the teams holding those spots are the Brooklyn Nets, three-time blowout losers to the Heat this season; and the Chicago Bulls, who have beaten the Heat two of three times but struggle for offense without practice-but-never-play guard Derrick Rose.
Chicago leads the Atlanta Hawks by just one game for the fifth seed, though it does hold the tiebreaker.
Ideally, for the Heat’s sake, the Bulls would slip behind the Hawks. That would put the four East squads whose teams and crowds present the most problems for Miami – Knicks, Pacers, Bulls and Celtics – on the other side of the bracket, beating on each other.