Ranking the Miami Heat's X-Factors Beyond Big 3

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Ranking the Miami Heat's X-Factors Beyond Big 3
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Who will step up to help the Heat's stars?

They command the shots and the headlines.

They bear the burden and the blame.

And that is as it should be, since LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are the Heat's three All-Stars, as well as an enormous collective chunk of the team's salary cap. Between them, they represent $52 million of the Heat's $83 million in commitments for this season.

That's nearly 65 percent, and it correlates almost exactly with their nightly percentage of the Heat's scoring. 

Still, they didn't win the 2012 championship alone. 

They needed clutch shooting from Mike Miller and Mario Chalmers, strong defense from Shane Battier, solid screens from Joel Anthony, big rebounds from Udonis Haslem and even some pesky on-ball defense from then-rookie Norris Cole. His energy in particular helped turn Game 4 of the NBA Finals around. 

The bench was supposed to be better this season, with the additions of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. But, 45 games into the season, Erik Spoelstra is still in search of reliable combinations, especially when James is resting.

Against Indiana and Toronto, he experimented with a lineup of Bosh, Lewis, Battier, Allen and Cole. After that group was outscored 18-2 in those two games, he wisely chose to avoid that alignment against Charlotte. When asked after the win against the Bobcats about the Heat's balance among the Big 3, James' reply was telling. 

"We even want even more balance, to get the role players involved a little more," James said. 

So, on balance, what are the most important X-Factors for the Heat down the stretch of the season, and into the postseason?


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