Miami Heat: Growing Pains of Last Season Are over

Derek CrouseContributor IIIFebruary 22, 2012

Wade and James have grown into an unstoppable force.
Wade and James have grown into an unstoppable force.Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

We are only a few days away from the NBA All-Star Game in Orlando on Sunday. Just a few miles away, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have been leading the Miami Heat on a tear as of late.

From strong defense, half-court ally-oops and beating teams by the third quarter the Heat are looking impossible to beat. Late February is good time to get a feel for who will be vying for the playoffs in May. The Miami Heat are showing why the best teams need a balance of star power and chemistry.

The Heat are a cut above all other franchises currently. It seems the growing pains of last year have led to the maturity of the 2011-12 roster. They are beating teams by double digits and crash out of the gates like a pack of greyhounds from start to finish on a nightly basis. After being embarrassed in the 2011 NBA playoffs, it looks as if they are playing with a chip on their shoulder.

The Evil Empire might be hated by many basketball fans, but they are a must-watch for all fans of the game. 

LeBron James might be the biggest villain in the NBA but is a hero in South Beach. He is en route to taking the MVP award by March. Even though he has tons of talent around him, that should not take away from his historical production this season. During the Dwyane Wade injury, James put the team on his back and was a scoring machine as he improved his three-point shot. James is shooting over 50 percent from the field even though all of this shots come various areas on the court. All the other players that are in that percentage are big men whose offense stems from the post. Only Dwight Howard has been to the foul line more than LeBron.

If the other contenders in the East want to make it to the Finals, they will have to find an answer for the Big Three in Miami.

The Boston Celtics are showing their age. Many think Danny Ainge needs to blow up the team to start the rebuilding process. The old Big Three needs to make way for the new Big Three.

The Chicago Bulls are right behind the Heat from a record standpoint, but all teams start 0-0 come playoff time. Derrick Rose has been hampered by injuries and Carlos Boozer is still a defensive liability. We have seen that Rose still needs another running mate to take on the Heat.

The New York Knicks are definitely a work in progress. Even though Jeremy Lin has been the headline at Madison Square Garden, the chemistry between Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire will be the Achilles' heel for a deep playoff run.

The Orlando Magic will most likely lose Dwight Howard right after the All-Star Game. He has been very outspoken about wanting out of town, which means that if an Eastern Conference team acquires him it could be an instant threat.

Unless something drastic happens, look for the Miami Heat to be playing into June in dominating fashion.