5 Positive Signs from the Miami Heat's Early-Season Games
One of those signs is undoubtedly the great play of 37-year-old Ray Allen.
Allen's been an offensive force, nailing three-pointer after three-pointer, helping turn one of the NBA's best offenses into the league's best offense.
Let's further examine Allen's offensive contributions, as well as four other encouraging early season signs.
Mario Chalmers Is Dishing out More Assists While Turning It over Less Often
The guy Heat players love to yell at, Mario Chalmers, has been very productive to kick off the 2012-13 season.
Through the first four games, Chalmers has had two games where he's dished out 11 assists. To put that in perspective, Chalmers didn't reach double-digit assists once in the 64 games he appeared in last season. In fact, he didn't even post nine assists in a game in 2011-12.
What's also encouraging is that in those two 11-assist games, he only turned over the ball once in each.
Chalmers current assist to turnover ratio stands at 4.67:1, which places him 10th in the NBA. Last season, that ratio was 1.56:1, which ranked a horrific 62nd in the NBA.
It's only been four games, so it's jumping the gun to say that Chalmers has solved his high-turnover and low-assist issues for good; however, it's at least clear that he's made improvements in both aspects of his game.
Rashard Lewis Isn't Playing Like He Did Last Season
There was some worry that Rashard Lewis's days of being a productive NBA player were finished, considering how poorly he played last season as a member of the Washington Wizards (9.33 PER).
But so far, he looks like a completely different player. Lewis is averaging 8.5 points on 50 percent shooting from both the field and on three-pointers while also grabbing 4.3 rebounds per contest.
Lewis is 33 years old and obviously on the decline, so it's far from certain that he can maintain this level of play. However, all the Heat need him to be is an efficient bench scorer, and he looks like he will be more than capable.
Lewis represented a low-risk/high-reward signing for the Heat, and to this point, it's been all reward for Miami.
Ray Allen Has Been Even Better Than Expected
While Miami doesn't need Ray Allen to win, he sure is nice to have.
Allen has been nothing short of spectacular thus far, averaging 15.5 points on an absurd 57.6 percent shooting from the field and an even more absurd 60 percent from three-point land.
Simply put, Allen has made the Heat offense almost impossible to stop.
Case and point, the Heat's final offensive possession against the Denver Nuggets on November 3, in which Allen knocked down a game-winning three-pointer with 6.7 seconds left. When LeBron started driving with 10 seconds left, Nuggets guard Corey Brewer had a choice: guard Allen in the corner, where he shoots 57 percent from (which is the best shooting percentage for any player from any spot in the NBA) or to try and stop LeBron from driving.
As the result shows, Allen makes it an impossible decision to make for Brewer.
Allen's play is a huge reason the Heat are averaging 111.8 points per game, and he is already building a strong case for Sixth Man of the Year.
The Heat Can Overcome Worse Defense
Throughout the first two seasons of the Big Three Era, the Heat were an elite defensive team. So it's quite shocking to see them currently ranked 29th in points allowed per game after four games.
But there is good news. Even while playing uncharacteristically bad defense, the Heat are still 3-1, with one of those victories being a convincing victory over a very talented Boston Celtics team.
Plus, with the team having an elite defensive head coach in Erik Spoelstra and some of the best defensive talent in the NBA, such as Wade and James, expect them to play much better defense sooner than later.
Still, the 2012-13 Heat have proven that their offense is so dynamic that they can still thrive even if they're not at their best defensively (or near their best, which has been the case so far).
Dwyane Wade Is Explosive Again
The health of Dwyane Wade's knee and how it would impact his play was a concern entering the season, but thus far, it's been a non-issue.
He's displayed his usual elite quickness and explosiveness, and has per game averages of 20 points, 4.5 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks.
The scoring is a bit down from his 22.1 per game average last season, but that has more to do with the Heat having new offensive weapons that need shots than Wade declining in skill.
Plus, considering the Heat's championship aspirations, Wade's good health is much more important than his scoring output in November.
Athletically, Dwyane Wade is Dwyane Wade again. As long as that's the case, the Heat are the clear-cut favorite to win the 2013 NBA title.