Miami Heat: 10 Reasons Why Breaking Up the Big Three Isn't an Option
One of the worst arguments ever conceived in the sporting world has been the idea of possibly dropping a member of the Miami Heat's big three for someone who can fill in a certain void.
What the people who make up those arguments don't realize is that there will be a brand-new flaw exposed upon the trading of one of the current members. Adding one player after dropping another isn't a solution, it's going through certain players so that they can address certain flaws. That's not where you pick up star players, that's where you pick up role players.
You'd be surprised, but finding a rebounder or a shooter in this league isn't all that difficult. They're everywhere you turn, with many of the players not even being utilized by their current team. They're there for a reason, just like why the Heat have their current big three: to fill a niche and serve a specific purpose.
We go through ten reasons why the Miami Heat's big three should remain intact not just through this year, but until this experiment has truly come to its end.
Chris Bosh Is the Best Player for the Job
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It's something that no one in the Miami Heat organization would think about, yet it's still out there that the team may be better off trading Bosh for a center like Dwight Howard. Howard's name has been brought up because of the Heat's struggles when it comes to protecting the paint and rebounding the ball.
In those areas, Bosh has been a bit of a disappointment. While the team didn't expect Bosh to be much of a deterrent on the defensive end, they certainly expected him to do better than eight rebounds per game. Coming from someone who had just averaged 11 the year before he joined the Heat, eight boards per is a stat that the Heat do not like to see.
It intrigues me how Bosh can manage to average only eight boards per on a team that is on a center-by-committee basis, not to mention that none of the centers the Heat possess are quality centers in the slightest.
The Heat were led by LeBron James in rebounding this past season at nearly nine per, while Bosh finished second just ahead of his backup, Udonis Haslem.
However, what Bosh lacks in defense and aggression, he makes up for it on offense with his versatility. There is no other power forward in the league that contains the ability to put the ball on the floor and drive while also being able to consistently knock down the 20-foot mid-range jumper like Bosh can.
Having a mid-range threat like Bosh is crucial for the Heat. When you have LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on your team, you need to find ways to clear out the lane as much as possible for them to get near the rim. Bosh allows that because his defender, usually an opposing power forward or center, will leave the painted area to defend him near the perimeter.
The threat of his mid-range game as well as his driving ability leaves defenders wary and always questioning what he'll do next.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade Are Just Getting the Hang of This
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To this day, there has been no thought more far-fetched or side-splitting than the idea that LeBron James and Dwyane Wade can't play together.
Among the reasons are that their playing styles are too similar, they don't know how to play off the ball or their egos are too big to share the court. That last one always arched my brows: how can egos play a part in this when these two have already sacrificed so much? They set their egos aside when they stepped out of their comfort zones and joined forces for the hope of winning a title.
Otherwise, James would still be struggling in Cleveland to get out of the semifinals and Wade would be in Miami still attempting to get out of the first-round.
Trust me, the egos of these two are nonexistent on the court and it showed in the final three games of the Heat's past playoff series against the Indiana Pacers, where Wade and James showed what what they were capable of.
Following an excellent second half in game 1, the duo were held to pedestrian performances in games 2 and 3. The Pacers made their adjustments to force each player into isolation plays; the Heat also forced themselves into awkward situations by not allowing Wade and James to play off of each other.
Instead of working together, they'd take turns—which is essentially the same as Cleveland basketball except there was a better player watching the action.
By game 4, however, the two finally figured out how to make this work. A lot more movement between the two began to occur and they started making aggressive attempts to get to the rim at all costs, much like how they did throughout the first half of the regular season.
It paid off in dividends by way of a three-game winning streak to end the series.
Wade averaged 33 points and James averaged 32.7 points per game in the final three contests of the series against a team with one of the biggest frontcourts in the league.
The same Wade that averaged 33 points in the final three games was the same player that scored five points on 13 field-goal attempts in game 3. What happened? He got his knee drained, started playing the basketball he was accustomed to playing and managed to integrate LeBron James into that equation.
Are we still trading this guy?
Necessary Experience Playing Together
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If last year proved anything, it's that these types of things take time to develop and reach their expected results.
You can't just throw a bunch of talent together on the same team and expect that to be the end of it. No, these things take time, practice and a lot of playing time for it to actually begin to work. That 9-8 start last year shouldn't have been too surprising if you recognized the context of what we were dealing with.
James and Wade have similar playing styles and were learning to play off each other, while Bosh was attempting to make the transition from a first option, who regularly took 16 shots per game and received the ball on every position, to a third option, who wouldn't shoot or receive the ball nearly as much either.
The Boston Celtics are a completely different story. Those were three players who had each been in this game for over a decade and knew how to play the game the right way. Each player had their own niche, their playing styles didn't overlap and they also had an excellent point guard, a strong center and a solid bench.
Take a look at the current New York Knicks as an example of things not working out exactly as you'd expect. It's gotten so bad in that franchise that they believe a little-known point guard from Harvard will be the savior for a team that already has Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler attempting to do the saving.
These things take time. Even with all the distractions, injuries and publicity that plagued last year's season, the Heat still found a way to make it to an NBA Finals that they should have won if not for the mental collapse suffered by a key player.
As time progresses, these three will only continue to learn to play together more efficiently, which makes it completely pointless to try out another big three just so they can go through growing pains again.
Why Start Over?
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That last paragraph brings me to my next point of asking why we should even think about cutting a new player or bringing in a new player in the first place.
You already went through the process of investing over $50 million into three players, surrounding them with the best talent you can scavenge and then letting them play for two years, so why go through the ordeal of starting a new big three and have to deal with the new publicity that comes with that?
The Heat already have two of the five best players in the league and one of the league's top power forwards. There is absolutely no need for any of those players to be replaced. Dwyane and LeBron are two of the league's top players for a reason, and Bosh's versatility complements the Heat's offense as well as any other power forward or center can.
Let's say that you want Dwight Howard. He's rebounding, making a few shots and playing good defense, but what are LeBron and Dwyane to do when Howard is constantly in the lane? Dwight isn't going to attract post defenders to the perimeter like Bosh does. Chris makes defenders uncomfortable by taking them out of their zone; all Dwight does is keep those defenders in the lane.
There's no stretching of the floor, so there's no entering the lane.
Say you want a point guard like Deron Williams instead of Chris Bosh. You get the perimeter scoring and you end up stretching the floor while picking up a stellar facilitator, but who's rebounding and making their presence felt down low? Is that supposed to be the job of Joel Anthony and Udonis Haslem? Without Bosh, the Heat are left constantly fighting the larger teams for rebounds and position down low.
There are a lot of intangibles that you must figure out when constructing this big three. Pat Riley picked up Chris Bosh instead of Carlos Boozer or Amar'e Stoudemire in the summer of 2010 for a reason. He wanted that versatility and that consistent mid-range shot to always be on the floor making life easier for Wade and James.
Big Three Will Always Attract Free Agents
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While some may deem it as overstated, the Miami Heat's big three will always be a beacon that attracts free agents from across the league.
In the summer of 2010, outside of picking up James and Bosh, the Heat also picked up Mike Miller, who had just shot 51 percent from deep the previous year. Along with him, the franchise also went about re-signing Udonis Haslem to a contract that was half of what he was being offered by teams like Denver and Dallas.
Haslem stuck around not just because of the influence Miami had on his life, but also because he knew that he'd be signing with a team ready to win a title. Unfortunately, that didn't occur in part because Miller and Haslem were hurt the majority of the regular and postseason. Without those two, the Heat missed out on their top perimeter threat and one of their best defenders and rebounders.
In 2011, the Heat, who were strapped for cash, made their splash by signing renowned perimeter defender Shane Battier. Thus far, Battier has been a bust on one end of the court while flourishing on the other. His three-point shooting has been abysmal this season, but his defense has fit in perfectly with the Heat dynamic and is allowing Dwyane Wade and LeBron James to get their rest.
As long as the big three is intact, there will always be a free agent willing to take a pay cut in order to join the Heat like Battier and Haslem did.
Free agents know just how easy it is to thrive in the Heat's offense. There is little need for a player that can handle the ball and create their own shot because the team already has three players capable of efficiently running the point every night.
When you're receiving passes from James or Wade, you know they're always going to find you in your comfort zone. They're great players because they know how to get their teammates involved, while also scoring their fair share of points.
Potential free agents will always look at the Heat as an option not just because of their championship aspirations, but for the ride that they take you on.
Strength and Conditioning Nearly Unmatched
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The injury suffered by Chris Bosh at the beginning of the Heat's series against the Pacers was the worst ailment dealt to a member of that three-man coalition in the big three era.
Miami happened to catch the injury bug that has plagued the NBA at a bad time. With the Chicago Bulls losing Derrick Rose and the Orlando Magic losing Dwight Howard, an NBA Finals date appeared to be a shoo-in for the Heat. However, the injury suffered by Bosh now leaves a huge hole in the Heat offense and it's up to Wade, James and a few role players to provide the support necessary to move on.
Word is that Bosh has begun light workouts with the team, although a timetable still hasn't been made for his eventual return, and it appears that he may still not make it for the Eastern conference finals. Nevertheless, the Heat may be able to get the past the ailing Boston Celtics.
Before this injury, Bosh had usually maintained a good standing of health and played in at least 67 games in each season since joining the league in 2003. He only missed five games in his first year with the Heat and nine games this season, with the majority of those coming near the end of the season when the Heat chose to rest their starters for the playoffs.
Dwyane Wade has also maintained good health since dealing with a slew of injuries from 2005 to 2008. He had played in at least 76 games the previous three seasons, but an ankle injury and a few other ailments played a large role this past season. He even appeared sluggish in the postseason, but quickly recovered after having his knee drained.
LeBron James? He doesn't miss games unless the team truly doesn't want to risk anything that night. The most games he missed in a regular season was seven, which occurred during the 2007-'08 campaign.
One of the most redeeming qualities of this big three is the fact that they've been in relatively good health for the past few seasons. When you have to rely heavily on the services of three players, it's a must to have them in the lineup as much as possible without having to worry about a player's predisposition to injuries.
Still Have Two of the Five Best
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Sometimes we take things for granted too often in this day and age.
Things as simple as a cell phone, a computer or a car are constantly abused because of minor mechanical issues—yet we fail to realize that we are able to communicate with people from across the world in seconds and get to a location in hours that would have taken us days barely a century ago.
Sports fans are guilty of taking what they have for granted, and Miami Heat fans were guilty of that following the conclusion of game 3 of the semifinals.
Trading Dwyane Wade? This is what it's come to for you? I understand the Chris Bosh idea and the firing Erik Spoelstra talk, but trading away a constant MVP contender, a former scoring champion—arguably one of the most clutch players in the NBA and the 2006 Finals MVP—because of one bad game? The Heat faithful really need to get their priorities in check, because it's getting old.
There's no need to trade Wade or James or Bosh; they're all fitting into this equation and they're four games away from leading the Heat to their second consecutive title appearance. As much as you think not, the NBA Finals are actually extremely difficult to reach. Even this year with injuries to key players across the East, Miami has also made their adjustments to injuries thanks to possessing two of the best players in the world.
You don't get to be known as arguably the best because you can make a few jump shots or a few nice drives. Half this game is mental and one of the benefits of having Wade and James on your team is having two extremely smart basketball players that know how to play and how to play it right. These two are amazing players because they can also make adjustments.
There aren't many other teams in the league that can recover from losing out on their third best player in the middle of the postseason. Imagine if the Celtics lost Kevin Garnett or the Lakers lost Andrew Bynum: those teams are going to have a sincere amount of trouble in front of them, because they don't have two of the league's best players on their side.
Look at the Heat before game 1 against Boston: they're nearly nine-point favorites despite not having their third best player and lone post threat. That's the power of having two dominant forces of nature.
Plus, do you honestly want to play against LeBron James or Dwyane Wade? We've seen them long enough to know what they are capable of and that's something the Heat defense doesn't want to play against.
Bosh's Mid-Range Stroke Is the Best You'll Get
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I've said it before and I'll say it again—Chris Bosh is the most important player on this Heat team.
Did I just see what Dwyane Wade and LeBron James did in the final three games of the semifinals? Of course I did. But is that going to last? Can we continue to expect Wade and James to be able to attack the rim every single game without having a consistent mid-range or perimeter stroke on the court?
This machine that Wade and James has constructed works, but it's only oiled properly when Bosh is on the floor. You can have Dwyane and LeBron work in the offense for so long before you have to rely on the services of another player. This is the spot where you come to rely on a guy like Bosh, who can consistently hit the mid-range jumper if he's left open.
Miami lost game 2 last series because they didn't have a shooter to stretch the floor in the fourth quarter. They would have ended up losing game 4 had Udonis Haslem not figured how to hit the mid-range jumper again. Even though James finished with 40 and Wade finished with 30, those two were physically drained by the fourth quarter and couldn't drive as proficiently as they did in the previous three quarters.
In games 5 and 6, the Heat had help from Haslem, Shane Battier, Mike Miller and Mario Chalmers.
That help isn't always consistent, though. As much as they'd like to be able to rely on their shooters, they haven't been dependent in the slightest this year. Haslem, Miller and Battier have shot inconsistently all year, while Chalmers has seen his hot shooting take a hit since the All-Star game. You need those guys to stretch the floor, but none of them have the same consistency and influence that Bosh possesses.
Whenever Bosh is on the floor, the Heat not only have that third scoring option to look to, but a distraction worth taking notice. This isn't like Miller or Battier or Haslem where you can sag off and they won't make it, there is always a need by the defense to get out and contest Bosh's jumpers.
Once they're doing so, the lane opens up for Wade and James to do as they please.
Not Enough of a Need for a PG or C
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In case you haven't already recognized it, the Miami Heat have flaws at two key positions—the point guard and center.
The point guard situation isn't in dire straits. They still have Mario Chalmers, a solid perimeter threat, and Norris Cole, a dynamic rookie with potential, as well as LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. While it hurts to not have a better defensive point guard, Miami usually finds way to recover thanks to a strong team defense and active hands.
There are problems at center, however. Even after last year where the Heat went through eight different players at the five, the team is still finding a true center to rely on. They've used Joel Anthony, Dexter Pittman, Udonis Haslem, Ronny Turiaf and Chris Bosh at center with the latter proving to be the most effective in a small sample size.
Bosh was able to match the length of certain centers and put his little-known strength to work as well. On the offensive end, he usually found ways to score thanks to his speed and the mid-range jumper that must always be accounted for.
However, it still hurts this team to not have a center who can constantly deter opposing centers and rebound the ball consistently. Miami has gone through several instances this year where they simply got pushed around by bigger teams. It played a large part last year when they couldn't find a way to best Dallas Mavericks' center Tyson Chandler on the NBA's biggest stage.
What team doesn't have problems, though? The San Antonio Spurs have problems and so do the Oklahoma City Thunder. In fact, just about every team that's ever accomplished anything had a flaw that played a key part in losses. Believe it or not, there's no such thing as a perfect team.
The only reason you hear so much about the Heat's problems at center and point guard is because they're the Heat. They have many of the same problems that a large number of teams have, but it's only brought out into the light for Miami because of the publicity they garner.
Miami isn't near the bottom in rebounding nor are they not getting enough assists. As much as everyone thinks this team needs Deron Williams or Dwight Howard, they're actually just as well off as any other NBA team.
It's Only Been Two Years
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Championships don't just happen in this league.
You can't throw a bunch of All-Stars together on the same team and then expect them to win 98 consecutive games. It hasn't worked before, won't happen in the future and isn't happening now. Players need the experience of playing together, especially those who have to make the significant transition like Wade, James and Bosh did.
It's ignorant to dismiss this team after one year. In fact, they should be praised that they even made it to the Finals after all the scrutiny and criticism they received. The Heat weren't even supposed to make it past the Boston Celtics last year and they sure weren't supposed to beat the Chicago Bulls—yet they defied the odds.
All of a sudden they were the overwhelming favorites against a Dallas Mavericks team that had only one loss in their past two series against the defending-champion Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder. It doesn't make much sense, but it does to those who attempt to find any sort of reason to poke and prod at this Heat team. Miami should have won, yes, but it wasn't as dramatic an upset as you could imagine.
It was disappointing that it reached that point only to see it come to a crashing halt for the Heat. However, it still gives no reason as to why this team should be broken up.
Even if the team loses this year, they still shouldn't be broken up. Perhaps a few trades or free agent moves could be made to strengthen the frontcourt and bench, but it would be absolutely insane to even consider moving one of the big three.
These three are just starting to get the hang of playing with each other, especially Wade and James who are finally beginning to play as teammates by thriving off each other. It took nearly two years for them to finally realize what they're capable of when they rely on each other, so why even begin to think of separating them?.
Chris Bosh isn't going anywhere, either. The Heat aren't going to find a big man who can stretch the floor like him and open up the lane, so don't expect Miami to end up trading Bosh for Dwight Howard or Marc Gasol anytime soon.