The Miami Heat strengthened their hold on the NBA with the signing of Rashard Lewis and Ray Allen. Both signings address weaknesses of the Heat and show that the organization is not content following its recent title and will do whatever it takes to win more in the coming years.
Against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA finals, the Miami Heat showed just how good they can be when threes are falling.
They dominated the series when Shane Battier, Mike Miller and Mario Chalmers were knocking down threes. In the regular season, the Heat shot 35.9 percent from three-point range, which was good for ninth in the league. In the NBA finals, the Heat took it up a notch, shooting 42.9 percent on three-pointers.
Improved shooting from three didn't just help the Heat in those scoring possessions, but forced Oklahoma City to respect the wings throughout the game. This provided the Heat with better spacing on the floor and allowed LeBron James and Dwyane Wade room to operate.
It's fairly clear that Battier, Miller and Chalmers aren't going to be knocking down threes as consistently as they did in the finals. Bringing in Allen and Lewis give the Heat a better chance at having success from the three-point line more consistently.
Allen and Lewis are both sharp shooters, with Lewis shooting 38.8 percent from three for his career and Allen shooting 40 percent. While both players address the issue of not having consistent shooters, they will each be used in different ways and fit different roles.
Allen will likely come off the bench as the sixth man to play shooting guard. With Wade and James both able to play the point guard for stretches, Allen can come in for either Wade or Chalmers. With the amount of talent the Heat have, they can afford to be flexible in getting Allen on the court.
Allen is unlikely to get close to the 34 minutes he averaged per game last season with Boston, but with his age, that's probably to the benefit of both the Heat and Allen. With Allen's ability as a streaky shooter, expect his minutes to fluctuate from game to game based on how each game is playing out.
The thought of James or Wade driving down the lane and forcing a second defender to help on the drive or stay on the wing and kick out to Allen is beautiful for Heat fans. One of the best shooters the game has ever seen will get plenty of open looks.
Lewis will be another rotational player for the Heat. Lewis' shooting ability and versatility should allow Erik Spoelstra to get creative with regard to his substitutions. Just like Allen, Lewis' minutes will depend on the situation and how well he plays when he gets on the court.
In addition to spacing the floor as Allen does, Lewis' size allows him to play multiple positions. The Heat had much success with their small lineup, using LeBron as the 4 and Chris Bosh as the 5. At 6'10", Lewis' height allows the Heat to go to a smaller, more athletic lineup while still maintaining some size.
Both players are very positive additions to the Heat roster and should impact the team in a beneficial way. When the Heat signed James and Bosh, the big question was what type of supporting cast would the organization be able to put around the big three.
Last year the Heat supporting cast was good enough to get by and get the job done on the way to the franchise's second NBA title. This offseason, the Heat have improved their supporting cast and have a great chance to become a dominant team next season.
The Heat still have weaknesses at the point guard position, and they could use a true center. There is still work to be done to shape the Heat roster, but the signings of Allen and Lewis are definitely positive steps towards a title repeat.
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