Three big names are enough to make this South Florida team a top contender: James, Wade, Bosh. No less.
But what if one of them goes down due to injuries and/or fatigue? Are they deep enough from the bench, balanced at all key positions to overcome such adversity?
I don't think so.
The common argument usually is: "any team that loses a key player to injury can lose, too. So the point is moot."
Look at the Dallas Mavericks, incumbent NBA Champions. They lost Caron Butler last season, arguably their second best player, and were still able to win over the Miami Heat. The Heat's "Big Three" were healthy then, but with such blatant liabilities at the point guard and center positions, they could not overcome Dallas. They surely missed a healthier Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem.
In other words, deeper, healthier teams will have a much better chance to win it all again. Some teams can sustain injuries and fatigue better than others which rely too heavily on certain pieces.
For instance, the Chicago Bulls could not advance with a clearly fatigued Derrick Rose. A much fresher Lebron James was able to contain the former MVP. That's because the Bulls relied too much on that single player who constantly earned double-teams. He ran out of fuel in the playoffs.
As I wrote before on this space, fatigue and injuries could very well be the deciding factors in this brutal, compressed NBA season.
Guess what, this early on, we're already starting to see the first signs of that: D. Wade clearly hurt and Manu Ginobli already out with a fractured hand, for starters.
Sloppy play on back-to-back games, favorite teams losing to non-contenders, lack of defense with high scores left and right and obvious fatigue. And the season barely started! Imagine during June and the playoffs. Almost every player will be with bumps and bruises, tired, if not out on the bench wearing a fancy suit due to a severe injury.
We have seen D. Wade seriously hurt many times before, sidelined for a good part of previous seasons. And he obviously hasn't been himself in the past three games ever since he sustained some obscure foot injury against the Charlotte Bobcats. He shot an abysmal 4-of-17 from the field in a loss at home against the young and athletic Atlanta Hawks.
This Heat team cannot afford key injuries, especially to a player like Dwyane Wade. Heck, they will even need a healthy Haslem, Battier and Miller off the bench as we saw last season.
Other teams, of course, will also suffer from tough injuries and collective fatigue during this insane 66-game season. But some of them are younger, deeper and more balanced at all positions than this Heat roster.
Preserving the health of Miami's "Big Three" should be a top concern of young coach Erik Spoelstra if he wants to win his first championship. He has to limit their minutes and not risk playing Bosh too much at center even if it means losing some less important games early on or getting a lower seed in the playoffs.
What teams will be in one piece to win several best-of-seven playoff series down the line? That's what really matters in the end.
Health and stamina for the long run should be the top priority for every team.
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