5 Possible Starting Lineups for the Miami Heat in 2012-13
The Miami Heat starting lineup has been an enigma that only just appears solved.
The team lacks any true centers, so for close to two full seasons head coach Erik Spoelstra has tried to find one by starting several big men, trying out Joel Anthony, Juwan Howard, Dexter Pittman and Eddy Curry.
There has been a question mark hanging over point guard in recent seasons after woeful performances by Mike Bibby and others.
However, these lineup issues finally appear to be solved, and the Heat can focus on turning their team into an even more fearsome winning machine.
No. 5: Opening Day Lineup
PG: Mario Chalmers—Chalmers has more than secured the starting berth in Miami after he came out of his shell as the playoffs progressed, culminating in a massive 25-point binge in Game 4 of the NBA Finals. He has become Miami's point guard for the foreseeable future.
SG: Dwyane Wade—Surprise! Dwyane Wade starts at shooting guard for yet another season. The veteran leader on this team will be hungry to add a third ring to his collection after a great 2012 season (despite a few injury concerns).
SF: LeBron James—Ground-breaking stuff here; LeBron James is the league's best player and last season had one of the greatest years a player can have—regular-season NBA MVP, NBA Finals MVP, NBA champion and Olympic gold medalist. Only once before has a player achieved this; that was Michael Jordan as part of the Dream Team in 1992.
PF: Shane Battier—This is where the Miami Heat lineup leaves normality. Battier is an undersized power forward who is a capable three-point marksman. Instead of deploying Bosh here, Battier will take on the opposing power forward and will stop them from getting what they want, as he is still an above-average defender.
C: Chris Bosh—Bosh returns at center after a successful stint there in the latter rounds of the playoffs. His ability to stretch the floor against big men like Roy Hibbert is vital in helping stop the opponent from clogging up the lane with big men in an effort to stop Wade and LeBron steamrolling inside.
No. 4: Starting Lineup Without Wade
Should last season be an indicator, Dwyane Wade could well be missing more games this season as his body continues to break down. Wade has many, many miles on the clock, and last season the wear and tear became too much at times, as he was forced to miss a handful of games.
PG: Mario Chalmers—Chalmers still start, but he will be leaned on more to create plays on the ball to make up for Wade's absence. Wade is one of a few players in the league who can still create his own shot.
SG: Ray Allen—It's not a bad thing to be able to bring in the NBA's all-time leader in made three-point field goals to replace Dwyane Wade, is it? Allen will be the first man off the bench and will be the man to take up the majority of Wade's minutes should he go down. His three-point shooting spreads the floor wide open for James and Bosh to operate with complete freedom.
SF: Shane Battier—Battier also still starts and will be expected to step up the scoring to pick up the slack.
PF: LeBron James—LeBron will thrive with Wade out, as he will be the go-to guy even more often, taking the majority of Wade's shots with him injured. James will excel in this, leading the team to victory even without one of its core Big Three.
C: Chris Bosh—Bosh has to be able to keep his offensive game rolling from mid-range to keep the defense honest. With no Wade roaming the court, the defense will be able to clamp down some more on the remaining two of the Big Three.
No. 3: Starting Lineup Without James
Should the unthinkable happen and LeBron James picks up an injury that rules him out of several games, the Miami Heat have a bit of a roster logjam.
The Heat can go down several roads to replace James' production, and one intriguing solution would be this:
PG: Mario Chalmers—Chalmers now becomes a true point guard. LeBron operated as more of a point-forward in the 2011-12 season, as he set up the offense on a large number of plays.
SG: Ray Allen—No, not Dwyane Wade. Allen steps in to play big minutes in this lineup and has to perform near his very best.
SF: Dwyane Wade—Wade continues the Heat's trend in blurring the lines between backcourt, frontcourt and center. Wade can play as a small forward, as again, what makes someone a small forward? Wade alongside Allen is a scary tandem that can easily make up for LeBron's production.
PF: Udonis Haslem/Chris Bosh—Udonis Haslem will be the other player to step up from the bench and back into the starting lineup. Shane Battier has to go to the bench as the Heat now need some more size without the overwhelming talent of LeBron. He and Bosh will switch positions depending on matchups.
C: Chris Bosh/Udonis Haslem—Bosh and Haslem in tandem is a great pairing. Bosh has the offense to open the floor for Haslem to get good looks deep in the paint where he is capable of beating up on his matchup.
No. 2: Starting Lineup Without Bosh
Chris Bosh could be the Heat's most important player this season. If he can continue to perform well in his new role as a center, the Heat are in good shape. Should he take a step backwards, Miami has a problem, as again they failed to bring in a quality big man.
PG: Mario Chalmers—Without Bosh, Chalmers has to pick up the scoring, as does everyone on the floor.
SG: Dwyane Wade—Wade will have to be at his slashing, cutting best as the defense does not have to worry about the size of Bosh inside and can really focus on shutting down the paint.
SF: Shane Battier—Battier will be relied on to connect on his three-pointers to help spread the floor for the Wade-James combo to get to work as, without Bosh, the opponent will be intent on building a wall around the paint. If Battier is hitting consistently, the defense at least has to keep him honest.
PF: LeBron James—LeBron will be picking up the scoring in this lineup and could end up playing some more in the post with no Bosh on the floor. LeBron has shown an ability to take on and beat players bigger than him at both ends of the floor and will be depended on to do so.
C: Udonis Haslem—Udonis Haslem steps up from the bench to be the team's token big man. His limited offense is clearly a step down from Bosh, but in his day, Haslem could consistently knock down jumpers out to the free-throw line—and he has to with Bosh banged up. Haslem also needs to make sure his defense is as good as ever as he will be tasked with stopping the opponent's big men with no help.
No. 1: Playoff Lineup
When the playoffs roll around, the rotation gets shortened up as the stars play more minutes. The bench unit becomes less of a factor and is primarily used to relieve gassed players for no more than a few minutes each night.
This shouldn't change the starting lineup much, but it will change the minute loads.
PG: Mario Chalmers—Chalmers' minutes may not change much, but should the matchup dictate it, backup point guard Norris Cole will be called upon to provide the spark to get the offense rolling again.
SG: Dwyane Wade—Wade's minutes will go up into the 40-plus range in the playoffs again this year as the Heat will depend on his mix of talent, determination and experience to guide them through opponents hell-bent on taking down the presumptive champions.
SF: Shane Battier—It will be tough for Battier to keep scoring as he does in the playoffs as defenses key in to players' tendencies and force them out of their comfort zones.
PF: LeBron James—James will need to be his dominant best in the playoffs, as you can bet opposing defenses will throw absolutely everything at him in an effort to somehow prevent the league's best player from doing whatever he wants on the court. (Hint: It won't work. He's too good).
C: Chris Bosh—Bosh's role as an undersized center will be under threat should Miami run into Andrew Bynum or Dwight Howard, as he simply cannot handle the sheer size of either player. However, when he's not taking on Hulk-like centers, he has the upper hand with his athleticism and range. A Bosh-Kevin Garnett matchup is what we all want to see again as both players make the argument for converting power forwards to centers.