Back-to-back titles are pretty good. But everyone knows you aren’t for real unless you can “three-peat.” Believe me, it’s only going to get harder for Miami as more competition is right at it’s door. And everyone of those teams is coming straight for the Heat. There are no shortcuts for LeBron James as he’s always asked to carry his team to the promised land. Well, he isn’t necessarily asked, he is willing to be the leader of the pack. He has successfully done so the last two years. Let’s talk about the Miami Heat (big three’s) fourth go-around at the Larry O’Brien Trophy:
Guards (A-): Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade, Norris Cole, Ray Allen, Roger Mason/James Jones
D-Wade has gone through a lot of injury and pain in his career, but credit him for making it this far as an elite NBA player. The 31-year-old doesn’t have the same body and athleticism he used to but his work ethic remains great. Wade still makes game-changing plays on a nightly basis and makes unbelievable fadeaways, layups, and circus shots. Chalmers’ role is definitely a little easier than most point guards’ as he spends much of his time standing on the perimeter, waiting for a pass from LeBron or Wade. As long as Chalmers puts in the effort on defense and keeps improving, Miami’s backcourt should be fine. Ray Allen, who made the game-winning three of the Finals, is back. How could he not be? He brings great tradition to whatever team he’s part of.
Forwards (A): LeBron James, Udonis Haslem, Shane Battier, Michael Beasley, Rashard Lewis
As time goes on, King James is starting to look more and more like the greatest of all-time. LBJ now has everything: thunderous dunks, heroic/game-winning plays, full stat sheets, exemplary leadership, and a worrisome outside jumpshot. But can the guys around him continue to fill their roles? We saw Shane Battier struggle in the playoffs last year. We can clearly see Udonis Haslem is aging and not always on his game. I think everyone is curious to see what Beasley can do back in Miami. However, it was a great signing because the reward is much higher than the risk. All other things aside, the guy can straight up play basketball.
Centers (A-): Chris Bosh, Chris Andersen, Greg Oden, Joel Anthony
Obvious fact: Miami would not have won a ring with Joel Anthony as it’s starting center. Therefore, they immediately had to play Bosh out of position when the “big three” formed. Bosh has been criticized for not being the same type of player and not being as aggressive as he used to be. However, in his role, he must let the game come to him as LeBron runs the show. He’s doing everything Miami needs him to if he’s hitting shots, playing sound post defense, and grabbing rebounds. Greg Oden would be a nice comeback story and it would certainly help Miami a whole lot as he is a true center with a Shaq-like body. We’ll see how that goes.
Defense (A): For the most part, LeBron keeps the defense in check. Just with him being on the court, it’s hard to dribble through the defense and get to the basket. It takes a lot of ball movement and wearing Miami down to get the best of them. Whether you know it or not, Bosh has done a great job defending in the paint. His length has been enough to slow opposing bigs down.
Shooting (A): A team with LeBron and minimal shooters would not work out. That’s why Pat Riley needs to make sure there are consistent outside shooters on the roster every year. Last year, Ray Allen provided a huge lift to Miami’s shooting. James does a better job than anyone of freeing up space for open shots.
Experience (A): The “Big Three” has two rings, but they can’t stop now. The competition keeps getting better and the stakes keep getting higher. Larry O’Brien Volume 3, here we come.
Standing – 1st East: Although I expect Miami to win the Eastern Conference, I don’t think that’s much of a concern for them. Chicago, Indiana, or even Broooklyn could easily win the conference. Miami’s real season starts in April.
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