Miami Heat

3 Reasons Why LeBron James Must Carry the Miami Heat to Repeat Title

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 12:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat stands for the performance of the National Anthem against the Dallas Mavericks in Game Six of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 12, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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David WeissCorrespondent IIIFebruary 4, 2013

If heavy is the head that wears the crown, then the Miami Heat have shown an incredible knack of diffusing championship-caliber expectations with a penchant for keeping the bigger picture in mind. 

It's still the regular season.

So it doesn't matter if they have yet to win a game this season against the Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers or New York Knicks.

Instead, the preferable focus is that they have the best record in the Eastern Conference, the best player in the NBA, and although .500 on the road, they have been among the most dominant teams in the league at home. 

The problem is that we've seen this kind of formula backfire in the past, most notably with the 2004 Los Angeles Lakers, who became fat with success and dismissed their regular-season struggles until those demons came back to haunt them in the NBA Finals against the Detroit Pistons

The lesson from that year was that sometimes past success can create a false sense of present comfort. 

Could the Heat fall privy to that? Certainly. 

Keep in mind that Miami needed to win at home in nearly every series of the playoffs last season to move on. 

And anyone that need be reminded how much better the Heat are at home than on the road, simply compare their records between the two in the regular season both this year and last.

Now, the Knicks are only half a game behind Miami for first place in the East and just got Raymond Felton back. 

The Bulls, meanwhile, are only two-and-a-half games behind Miami and may get Derrick Rose back sooner than any of us may think. 

Because of this, at the end of the day, having LeBron James is the only clear and reliable advantage that has made Miami the favorites to win it all again this year. 

And here are three reasons why we should expect him to carry Miami through the playoffs once again. 

 

1. He is the Heat's best player in nearly every category.

For a team with Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Ray Allen, it may be surprising to hear anyone characterize them as relatively untalented. James did so only weeks ago. 

Look at the stat leaders for each team if you want to know why. 

James leads Miami in minutes, points, rebounds, and assists. 

In other words, if he is not dominating, Miami's chances of winning fall dramatically. 

Now, you may argue that Wade and Bosh are only pacing themselves right now so that they can make it to the playoffs fully healthy unlike last season.

But if you compared their numbers from the regular season to the playoffs, there isn't much of a jump.

Wade's averages went from 22.1 PPG, 4.6 RPG and 4.6 APG in the regular season to 22.8 PPG, 5.2 RPG and 4.3 APG in the playoffs. 

Bosh's averages went from 18 PPG, 7.9 RPG and 1,8 APG to 14 PPG, 7.8 RPG and 0.6 APG in the playoffs. 

In fact, the only player whose numbers did jump significantly was, that's right, James. 

His averages went from 27.1 PPG, 7.9 RPG and 6.2 APG in the regular season to 30.3 PPG, 9.7 RPG and 5.6 APG when the games really started to matter.

Maybe the Heat are not such a three-headed monster after all.

 

2. LeBron has the most to lose if the Heat don't repeat. 

America's justice system is founded on the principle that every person is innocent until proven guilty. 

Well, the opposite is typically true in sports media and the court of public opinion.

If the Heat win the title again this year, James will get some credit, but ultimately people will diminish it by saying either that he still needs two to three more championships to really be considered great, or he needed to be on a team with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in order to be a champion. 

But if the Heat fall short, guess who is getting the entire spotlight of blame all to himself? 

In one season, James won his third MVP, his first championship, led the US team to a gold medal and won Sportsman of the Year. Yet, in a world based on what people have done lately, no one will mention a word of those accolades.

Think that's reason enough for James to want to steer his own destiny again? I do.

 

3. The Heat's best players don't complement each other as well as we think.  

Maybe it's just me, but when the big three decided to join forces, I thought their roles would be pretty simple. 

James would be in charge of getting everyone involved, Wade would dominate the scoring, and Bosh would take care of the rebounding. 

That hasn't really been the case. 

Because Wade and James have similar skill sets, they aren't able to really feed off each other's games outside of running the break. 

And as far as Bosh's rebounding, well, I think we all know by now that Miami ranks last in the category among all teams in the league. 

The only obvious complement to this team has been Ray Allen, who fit in seamlessly from the very first day. 

And since Miami thrice doesn't mesh as well as we'd like, there have been a lot of sacrifices made by both Wade and Bosh—two guys whose numbers simply don't qualify them to make max dollars. 

Sure, teaming superstars up with each other seems like an easy route to success. 

But unless their games complement each other, one guy ends up having to do a disproportionate amount of the work. 

Such is the reality on this Heat team. 

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