Top 4 fighting for HCA. A LOT would depend on which division they were in. Those extra games against division rivals are killer.
Take for example the Southwest division...
Spurs - 54-16
Houston - 48-22
Memphis - 42-28
Dallas - 43-29
New Orleans - 30-40
That's FOUR teams on pace for close for 50+ wins in the SAME division, all of which are play off teams. Now replace New Orleans with the Heat and they're playing ALL of them 4 times per year.
The grind would be brutal. The fast pace in the West is killer on the legs. Then you're also facing the Grizzlies pounding you in the paint.
Could Wade hold up in an 82 game schedule playing *that* many games in the West? How many times can Lebron pull out amazing performances under that sort of schedule? How often could the Heat get away with sub-par performance from the rest of the roster against those teams? Heck if I know.
I still think the Heat are a 50+ win team. However, no way I'd bet the house on them walking out with the #1 seed. Not running the gauntlet of the West.
J.R. Smith: "They were pretty much scoring at will. Especially my guy. I don't know what the hell I was doing on defense."
Raymond Felton : "The play was give the ball to Melo."