Team Name: Miami Heat
This Year’s Predicted Record: 64-18
Last Year’s Record: 47-35
Key Losses: Quentin Richardson, Jermaine O’Neal, Michael Beasley, Dorell Wright, Daequan Cook
Key Additions: LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Juwan Howard, Mike Miller, Eddie House
1. What significant moves were made during the off-season?
The real question is, what significant moves were NOT made during this past year’s off-season? This summer was hyped up for the past three years, with several teams completely clearing all players from their roster in an attempt to land one of the big three available (Chris Bosh, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade). The Heat cleared their roster of every player except one, Mario Chalmers, and succeeded in landing not just one of the big three, but all three. In addition to bringing in LeBron James and Chris Bosh and retaining Dwyane Wade, the Heat were able to bring back Udonis Haslem, Joel Anthony, James Jones, Carlos Arroyo, and Jamal Magloire. Much to every other team’s chagrin, the mastermind behind the whole operation, Pat Riley, was able to find a way to fill the rest of the roster and turn the Heat’s bench into one of the best benches in the NBA. The remaining roster includes Mike Miller, Eddie House, Juwan Howard, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and draft picks Da’Sean Butler and Dexter Pittman. Pat Riley and the Miami Heat have succeeded in putting together one of the most feared teams ever assembled in the NBA.
2. What are the team’s biggest strengths?
With this team, the answer is always going to be the Big Three, especially on the offensive side. In the past 6 years, each of the Big Three have demanded double teams when handling the ball. The strength isn’t necessarily just the ability for these three to score, but the ability for them to open the floor for spot up shooters in the corners, which is something the Heat, for the first time since Jason Kapono, is not lacking with Mike Miller, James Jones, and Eddie House on the outside. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are going to demand double teams on the perimeter, and many times Chris Bosh is going to demand a double team down low. With Wade and James’ ability to penetrate and dish, the corners are going to be wide open. A man-to-man defense with back-side help is not going to work against this team. This year’s Miami Heat may cause the zone defense to make a major comeback in the NBA, as it may be the only way to put multiple defenders on the Big Three while not taking defenders out of position.
3. What are the team’s biggest weaknesses?
The Heat’s biggest weaknesses are point guard and center play, but this weakness has been blown out of proportion in recent weeks. Most likely Mario Chalmers will starting at point guard, and while he is not a pure point guard, he is a serviceable guard who can spot up from the outside. His main job is going to be to bring the ball past half court, hand it off to Wade or James, and spot up from the outside, something he can do very well. Also, even though he is a starter, he is going to play role player minutes, as this team is not really in need of a primary ball-handler other than Wade and James. Chalmers is going to share a significant amount of minutes with Mike Miller and Eddie House. The same goes for Joel Anthony as the starting center. He is most likely going to be playing role player minutes as well, with Big Z being the first center off the bench, and Chris Bosh playing significant minutes at center with the warrior, Udonis Haslem, at the power forward position. The one thing that Joel Anthony does provide is great backside help. The Heat do lack overbearing skill at both of these positions, but this weakness is not going to cause the team to lose games. Most likely the Heat’s end of game line-up and the lineup that will play significant minutes throughout the game will be Dwyane Wade, Mike Miller, LeBron James, Udonis Haslem, and Chris Bosh, which, as can be seen, does not include a pure point guard or center.
4. What are the goals for this team?
There is only one goal with a team like the Miami Heat…championship or bust! This team is already being labeled as one of the greatest to ever be put together, and it was put together to win championships. Plain and simple…the Heat need to win multiple championships with this team, or they will face a different kind of heat from all angles.
5. Will Eric Spoelstra make it through the entire season?
This is one question that has been on everybody’s mind since the Big Three came together. We all remember 2006, the last time the Heat won the NBA Championship…Stan Van Gundy started the year as the Heat’s head coach, and about a quarter of the way through the season, he “voluntarily” resigned as head coach. With this season approaching, there are speculations as to whether Spoelstra will make it through the entire season. Riley has been quoted saying he will do anything to make sure that this team wins, but does that mean he is returning to the bench? Most likely Spo will finish this season as the head coach of the Miami Heat, but if he does not deliver a championship, do not discount the idea of him returning back to Assistant Coach status, with possibly Doc Rivers at the helm.