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Coach Erik Spoelstra knows the easy part of the season is over

All of the Heat rotation players have yet to capture the ultimate NBA trophy. Can they change the story?

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

March Madness excites the fan’s imagination, yet the tournament doesn’t prepare players for the grinding NBA lifestyle. One-and-done college stars may win a single year’s trophy, but NBA players face grueling 82-game regular season schedules year-in, year-out. This campaign is no different, because what happened in the first 69 games was an appetizer for the main course.

No time to showboat when the ball doesn’t drop in, i.e. turn your back to the basket at your own risk.

A football player can’t score a touchdown without the ball.

Coach Erik Spoelstra quickly points out this season’s past accomplishments are over and done with, because now is the time to realize every future opponent will test Miami to the limit.

The Miami Heat’s 23-5 record in the second half of the season has as much meaning as the 28-5 lead the Atlanta Falcons had over the New England Patriots, i.e. no lead is safe.

The 82-game NBA season has shrunk to a 13-game one, or two playoff series, where the margin of error becomes non-existent. For all intensive purposes, the mantra becomes win or go home.

Should Miami escape with a playoff berth, the second season begins with a clean slate of 0 wins, 0 losses for every team in the post-season action, although the Heat will probably play every deciding game on the road. Time for the players to look in the mirror and tell themselves the season’s work isn’t over yet by a long shot.

As a fan, I find it difficult not to get overconfident and smug with the Heat’s recent energetic performances. Disappointment would set in if the Heat go 99 yards and drop the ball at the one yard line. Human nature has a tendency of celebrating too early.

In pro sports no lead is safe, even when leading the best of seven series three games to one. Coach Spoelstra’s greatest challenge remains to guide his team for the final yard and have them finish the job. The Heat worked too hard to fail at this point