6 Reasons to Both Fear and Scoff at the Early Season Miami Heat
In a 120-107 victory, the team's Big Three put together a balanced attack that showed the age of Boston, though the Celtics did go on a 14-3 run at one point. Even better was the performance of Boston's bench, which put together numbers that no defense could stop.
Simply put, though many of us would hate to admit it, the Miami Heat are still the best team in the NBA and they're in a prime position to make another title run in 2013.
LeBron James proved in just 29 minutes that he is truly the game's most valuable player and can be a threat in every way possible. Similarly, Dwyane Wade proved that he is beyond capable of stepping up when one of the Big Three goes down.
However, nobody's perfect and this is why we shouldn't be praising the Heat as automatic repeat champions. They still have a lot of holes in their system and will receive some wake-up calls by a handful of teams over the course of the season.
Sure, there's plenty of reasons to be scared of Miami.
At the same time, they're just like any other NBA team in that they have their flaws.
Fear Ray Allen
Allen may be 37 years old and relegated to a bench role in Miami, but his performance against his former team showed that he is just like a fine wine.
He keeps on getting better with age.
The former UConn Husky played 31 minutes off the bench and scored 19 points, going 5-of-7 from the field and 2-of-3 from downtown. Allen also went to the free-throw line eight times and sank seven of his shots. It's as though he never left Boston.
If head coach Erik Spoelstra continues to give Allen minutes like this, then the Heat will be dangerous once again.
Forget the Big Three, dear readers.
Having the all-time leader in three-pointers made and one of the most accurate shooters in the league on the team is a recipe for a long and successful season.
Scoff at the Lack of Bench Depth
As good a team as the Heat are, they rely on their starters way too much.
Keep in mind, James, Wade and Bosh accounted for two-thirds of the team's scoring last season. Even though Miami won it all and made some moves this offseason, their bench still leaves something to be desired.
Besides Allen, the two biggest names on the bench are Rashard Lewis and Mike Miller. Lewis scored 10 points and pulled down five rebounds in 19 minutes against Boston, but he has generally been disappointing for the past three years, averaging 12.1 points, albeit shooting 37 percent from long range.
Those numbers aren't bad, but they're still a far cry from his days with the Seattle SuperSonics and his early years with the Orlando Magic.
His performance against the Celtics isn't indicative of how he'll perform all season long.
Miller is a glorified shooter with durability problems. The rest of the bench doesn't have anything near what it takes to take over in crunch time.
Miami could find itself at a disadvantage on any given night against teams with a deeper bench.
Fear LeBron James
Love him or hate him, LeBron James is the best player in the NBA.
He can score points, grab tough rebounds, pass the ball and play exceptional defense. On top of that, he has a freakishly accurate shot.
During last year's MVP season, James averaged 27.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists while shooting an absolutely unbelievable 53 percent from the floor. For someone who isn't a center or big man, making that many shots is borderline unheard of.
James continued his dominance over 29 minutes against the Celtics, scoring 26 points and pulling down 10 rebounds before leg cramps forced him out for most of the second half.
One can only imagine what he could have done if he had his regular playing time.
Even if he's off to a rough start in one game, teams should still fear him. He's been named MVP three times for a reason.
Playing lazy defense against him for a mere second could prove disastrous.
Scoff at the Lack of Size
Even if you're a championship-winning team, there's a problem when your most reliable big man is Chris Bosh. He has the height at 6'11" but still tends to play soft on defense. After Bosh, every other player who can provide size is hit or miss in terms of overall skill.
Joel Anthony is essentially a slightly more athletic Eddy Curry at 6'9", 245 pounds, but he moves awkwardly in the paint and slowly up and down the court.
The same can be said for Dexter Pittman and Josh Harrelson, neither of whom should get significant playing time this year.
That leaves Udonis Haslem, who can play solid defense in the middle but is just too small at 6'8", 235 pounds, to keep up with more athletic big men like DeMarcus Cousins and Tyson Chandler.
Should Miami get matched up against a tough defensive squad that has reliable help in the middle, it's going to be very stressful for Heat fans to watch as Bosh tries to be a reliable center rather than a score-first power forward.
Fear the Heat Fans
Home-court advantage means a lot.
Whenever a team comes to play Miami, the fans are sure to let them know they're in hostile territory. Heat fans love their team and cheer loud from start to finish.
Given that Miami has been to the last two NBA Finals, there is clearly something adding to their success besides their players doing well.
That said, any team that comes to Miami needs to be prepared for a loud environment a la Thunderdome. The game is either going to be a dogfight or a complete blowout on one team's end.
Given the talent of the Heat and the passion of their fans, it's rare that the visitors blow out the hometown heroes.
Scoff at Erik Spoelstra
Let's be honest, folks.
Erik Spoelstra's team is stacked from top to bottom, making it a lot easier could coach them to a championship, let alone a spot in the NBA Finals.
More importantly, Spoelstra's stats as a coach were pretty average before LeBron James and Chris Bosh came to town.
He went 90-74 in two seasons and was out of the playoffs in the first round both times.
The team is suddenly amazing when two more superstars come to town. Even then, the Heat had to lose to the Dallas Mavericks in the finals before winning it all the following year.
Say what you want about the man being a fine disciple of former Heat coach Pat Riley, but his winning a championship last year isn't all that impressive.
He has a good coaching eye, but he's also got plenty of help on the roster and hasn't really done much in developing younger players like Norris Cole.
Long story short, there are more impressive coaches out there.