One of the best things about sports is that no one ever knows what is going to happen. Some patterns and trends are predictable, but even the surest of locks sometimes go awry.
Heading into the Conference Finals, a majority of NBA fans thought the Spurs were going to roll to the Finals. After Oklahoma City dismantled them, everyone jumped on the Thunder bandwagon. Now, everyone belies the Miami Heat will run off three or so more championships.
The narrative constantly changes.
As a fan, you must be ready for the both the highs and lows, because you never know which will come or when.
Here are the three worst and three best possible scenarios for the Miami Heat for the upcoming season, ranking from worst to best.
(Note: I'm not saying any of these will happen. These are all just hypothetical situations.)
In this scenario, everything that can go wrong does.
The condensed 66-game schedule from 2012 finally catches up with everyone, starting with LeBron James. Those cramps he suffered from in Game 4 of the Finals? They become a huge problem and eventually cause a muscle tear, the worst injury in LeBron’s career.
Then, when Dwayne Wade is asked to step up in the King’s absence, his 30-year-old knees give out, and he’s unable to go.
That makes Chris Bosh the leading scoring option. Bosh gets way too much crap for his play, but he’s not a true number one scoring option.
Meanwhile, Ray Allen’s heel problems come back, Mario Chalmers’ ego somehow doubles in size, Rashard Lewis is again suspended for PEDs, Udonis Haslem is arrested for marijuana possession and Mike Miller finally shatters into 1,000 pieces when taking an elbow to the sternum.
I think it’s safe to say Miami misses the playoffs in this situation.
Here, the cramps still bother LeBron, just not enough to cause a serious injury. Instead, they’re small and recurring–just enough to prevent him from ever getting into a true groove.
Likewise with Wade, his knees and overall age begin catching up to him, and his play suffers.
Allen doesn’t necessarily get hurt, but his 37-year-old legs can’t get the same lift and he goes through a shooting slump similar to Shane Battier’s last season.
Rashard Lewis turns out to be a flop. He’s no better at shooting three-pointers than Wade, and he can’t do anything else.
And the center situation becomes so bad, Erik Spoelstra has to start Dexter Pittman for extended period of time, just to see if he can finally bloom into something mediocre.
The Heat would still make the playoffs here, but they wouldn’t be a legitimate contender.
Here’s a unique situation.
Chris Bosh finally gets fed up with all the “third wheel” jokes and throws a fit. He decides he wants more scoring opportunities than Wade so he can finally get his proper due.
He also refuses to start at center so he can save his energy for the offensive side of the court and stay healthy. He demands this even though it’s really best for the team to play small, which requires him to start at center.
This ruins team chemistry for awhile, until about January or February, when he finally demands a trade. He’s already got his ring and money. Now he just wants the attention of being a number one again.
Miami decides to give into his demands.
The returning pieces are nice, but team chemistry is still out of whack with new teammates having to learn how to play together.
Miami still makes the playoffs and should be able to make a deep run, but it’s hard seeing them win a championship.
In this situation, about everything goes as planned.
LeBron’s postseason game continues to improve, making him even better than his incredible 2012 form.
Wade still isn’t quite what he used to be, but he stays healthy and remains the league’s best number two scoring option. His defense remains intense, causing multiple fast breaks for tons of easy baskets.
Bosh becomes more comfortable playing at center, now that the team will likely be playing a lot more small-ball.
Ray Allen opens up the floor with his deadly outside shooting and provides a spark off the bench. He is joined outside by Miller, who finally stays healthy for a full season.
The point guard tandem of Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole improves, and Chalmers finally matures after hours of LeBron and Wade constantly wailing on him for bonehead mistakes.
Shane Battier still does Shane Battier things, Haslem rediscovers his mid-range jumper and Lewis turns out to be a solid option off the bench.
Above all, the core unit now knows what it takes to win a championship, and thus gains another intangible tool for the postseason.
The Heat are favorites to win the Finals.
Here’s another unique situation.
The two weakest positions on the Miami Heat roster are point guard and center. So what would happen if Mario Chalmers and Joel Anthony break out with career years?
Chalmers would become a Steve Nash type, but better at defense. He would be extremely unslelfish, always running pick-and-rolls with athletic big men and searching for the open guy. His three-point shooting becomes good enough to prevent opponents from leaving him alone on the perimeter.
Meanwhile, Anthony grows an offensive game out of nowhere. He makes teams pay for leaving him wide open under the basket, always finishing with authority. You can even go to him for a basket here and there to take a little bit of the scoring load off the Big Three. His defense is already perfect for Miami’s scheme, so offense is all he needs.
This might be the unlikely of all the scenarios thus far, but if it does indeed come to fruition, the Heat would almost certainly win the Finals.
Not only do the stars align, but God arranges them perfectly himself.
In addition to perfect health for everyone, the following happens:
LeBron’s post game flourishes beyond belief after working on it for two offseasons and one regular season. The sweet taste of finally winning a championship makes him hungrier than ever; he wants to feast after starving for eight full seasons. And his jump shot finally becomes reliable and consistent, making him impossible to guard.
Wade goes to Germany to see what all the PRP therapy fuss is all about, and it rejuvenates his career. He returns to mid-20s mode, but remains unselfish enough to not step on LeBron’s toes.
Bosh returns from the offseason stronger and more defensively-minded than ever. He transforms into a true defensive and rebounding force down low without sacrificing any of his offensive talent.
Lewis and Allen have their best shooting performances of their careers, now that they just have to stand outside the arc all day just waiting for open three-point shots. Miller, now with a full season of health, picks right back up where he left off in Game 5 of the 2012 Finals.
Dexter Pittman morphs into a solid backup center, Jarvis Varnado turns into Serge Ibaka and, best of all, Skip Bayless never speaks ever again.