The Miami Heat are awaiting their opponent in the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals.
Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel writes on May 15 that the Heat are happy being back in the conference finals, but are shooting for a more important goal -- a third consecutive NBA title:
"There was no flight Thursday, no need to pack for five nights on the road. Instead, the Miami Heat remained grounded.
"In more ways than one.
"'We want to keep going,' center Chris Bosh said of reaching the Eastern Conference Finals for a fourth consecutive season, as many seasons as Bosh, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have been teammates. 'It's a small sign of success. But it's only a stepping stone of where we want to go.'
"Where the Heat want to get is a fourth consecutive NBA Finals, and then a third consecutive NBA championship.
"That doesn't mean there also wasn't time to reflect, as the Heat awaited their East Finals opponent to emerge from the series between the Indiana Pacers and Washington Wizards.
"'For once, we can just sit back, see what happens and start preparing again for another tough series,' Bosh said.
"Actually the waiting game is happening for the second time this postseason, the first-round sweep of the Charlotte Bobcats allowing a seven-day break after the opening round, and Wednesday's five-game ouster of the Brooklyn Nets allowing for more than what could have been a one-day turnaround going into the next round, had there been a Friday Game 6 at Barclays Center.
"'This is the reason why we came together four years ago,' James said, 'to put ourselves in position to compete for a championship, and this is one step closer.'"
The Heat, behind a three-pointer from Ray Allen with 32 seconds remaining in the game, eliminated the Brooklyn Nets in Game 5 of their semifinal series on May 14, 96-94. James had 29 points while Wade added 28 for Miami. Brooklyn's Joe Johnson led all scorers with 34.
The Miami Herald's Greg Cote maintains the Heat is still the team to beat this season.
"Miami remains the NBA's rock stars and royalty because of these three players and the two consecutive championship parades they have made bloom on Biscayne Boulevard.
"One loss shouldn't change anything -- the Heat should be above the knee-jerk doubt -- but this year is a little different.
"The doubts are just waiting for a loss, any loss. The doubters are hungry for it."
Allen, the Game 5 hero against the Nets, said the Heat's accomplishments over the past years is something which should not be taken for granted, per Winderman.
"It's an incredible accomplishment. It's something that you always think that once you go one time that you're always supposed to be in it, that there is no other place to be but there.
"Every year it seems like it gets tougher and you have to work your way into that situation so you can get back. If you talk to anybody on this team, four straight years, you talk about all the trials and tribulations that we've been through to get here. It feels great. But still the job is not done."