Last year, the powerful Lebron James finally led his Miami Heat squad to an NBA Championship over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the finals. Despite losing Chris Bosh to an abdominal injury during the beginning of the playoffs and nearly losing to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals, the Heat came away with the win in the end.
Miami is playing great basketball right now, but they were looking a little inconsistent at the start of the 2012-13 season. Let’s take a look at what the Heat needs to do to win another championship for Miami.
Last year, Chris Bosh missed a good chunk of the playoffs because he was out with a strained abdominal muscle, and the Heat certainly missed him. Even when he came back, he still wasn’t at his top strength, and he needs to be full force this year to help Miami to another title.
After an illness put him out earlier on in February, Bosh returned to play great, grabbing his third straight double-double on Thursday February 14 during the Heat’s 110-100 win against the Oklahoma City Thunder. For the last 10 games, the center averaged 20 points and 8.1 rebounds in 35.5 minutes per game. This year, Bosh cannot get injured or sidelined by illness as the Heat face multiple tough competitors in the league.
Apart from Bosh with his illness, a few other Heat players have sat out recently due to injuries and health problems. Shooting guard Mike Miller is currently out with an inner ear infection, and power forward Udonis Haslem has struggled with a lower leg injury.
Haslem returned to start against the Atlanta Hawks last night, but Miami needs both Haslem and Miller to be at full strength for the end of the season into the playoffs. For the 2012-13 season, Haslem averages 3.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 19.1 minutes per game. Miller’s averages for the last 10 games have been down from his season statistics; he averaged zero points and 2.5 rebounds in 13.5 minutes of game play. In order for the Heat to secure victories in the playoffs, both of these crucial players, along with the rest of the Miami crew, need to stay healthy.
Every basketball fan remembers last year when Lebron James completely took over the seventh game in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Celtics to lead the Heat to the championship against Oklahoma City. If Miami wants to grab another title, Lebron James needs to fight even harder to prevail over the competitors that want so badly to take him down.
The small forward has been exhibiting star play lately. For the last 10 games, James averaged an impressive 31 points, 8.3 rebounds and 6.3 steals in 38.9 minutes of game play. If this kind of play remains consistent, James will continue to be the leading ingredient in the Heat’s strength.
Currently, Miami is ranked No. 1 in the Eastern Conference, and the Heat players need to stay there to intimidate their competitors and get a good spot in the playoffs.
The Heat have a 37-14 record and is followed close behind by the No. 2 New York Knicks (32-19) and the No. 3 Indiana Pacers (32-21). In order to remain on top, Miami needs to keep up its recent winning streak and the Heat players need to start winning road games like they win home games. Even though the Heat is 23-3 at home, the team has a less impressive record of 14-11 on the road.
Though the team has been playing well as of late with the eight-game winning streak, the Heat is a combined 2-7 against the Celtics, Bucks, Pacers, Bulls and Knicks. These are all teams that Miami could potentially face in the playoffs and Lebron and his squad must figure out exactly what they need to do to beat them.
The winning streak that began before the NBA All-Star game has the Heat winning six of the eight games by double-figures. This domination indicates that Miami is playing well, but they need to play well consistently, especially against teams they could be matched up against during the playoffs. Last year, they met the Celtics in the Eastern Conference playoffs and it took the full seven-game series to shut Boston down despite the Heat's impressive record.