NBA playoff predictions 2014, Heat vs. Bobcats: Miami picked to cruise

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

The two-time reigning NBA Champions are looking to start things off with a sweep in Charlotte.

Miami won 54 games this year, but lost out at the last minute as they challenged the Indiana Pacers for the No. 1 seed in the East. That should only matter should the two teams meet in the Eastern Conference Finals, but for now the Heat have to get through Charlotte. LeBron James and Company are ready for the playoffs, and the Bobcats are an incredibly favorable matchup. Charlotte has trouble dealing with penetrating wings, so keeping Dwyane Wade and James out of the lane will be a priority for them.

Charlotte are 0-4 against the Heat this season, losing by an average of 10.5 points per-game. On paper, the Bobcats are defensive stalwarts, rating fifth in the league in defensive efficiency. But slashers like James, Carmelo Anthony, Kyrie Irving have all scored at least 43 points on the Bobcats this season. James dropped 61 on Charlotte back on Mar. 3 and the Bobcats will certainly have their hands full with the winner of the last two MVP awards in the first round.

The picks:

Paul Flannery Heat in 5
Mike Prada Heat in 4
Ricky O'Donnell Heat in 5
Doug Eberhardt Heat in 5
Tom Ziller Heat in 5
Hot Hot Hoops Heat in 5
Rufus on Fire Heat in 4

My pick:

There's going to be an upset in the first round this year. This won't be one of them. Miami has been too good to give credence to an uncalled for bounce in the first round to the upstart Bobcats. Charlotte has been a fun team to watch all season, with Josh McRoberts swinging his hair around and raining three-pointers, but it is unlikely they will beat the champs. Miami wants all the rest they can get moving into the second round, and this one will be over quickly. Heat in 4.

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