Can LeBron and D-Wade do it again in 2013-14?
I am on record of saying that I do not think the Heat will three-peat because too many things would have to go right in order for that to happen. Plus, it has only occurred five times in history. However, that does not mean that a logical reasoning for how Miami can do it does not exist.
With the Eastern Conference getting stronger and the West also welcoming some new ballclubs into contention, the 2013-14 campaign may represent the Heat's biggest challenge since LeBron James arrived in the summer of 2010. Regardless, Miami remains a great squad, and it is still capable of putting together another championship season.
Plus, what's fun without a little competition, right?
The only move the Heat really made this summer was signing Greg Oden, and while you can say that's a bad thing because they didn't try to counter the wheeling-and-dealing of their conference rivals, you can also spin it positively and say that the Miami players won't have to get acclimated to one another.
The core group of this ballclub has been together since the 2010-11 campaign, and it has been pretty darn successful during that time period. So, maybe Pat Riley figured, "why mess with it? It has worked so far, and until it stops working, we're going to keep rolling with it."
Of course, the Heat don't really have much money to throw around, so that may have also played a factor in Riley's decision-making, but that hasn't stopped him from going out and making big moves before.
Miami will enter the 2013-14 campaign knowing exactly what it needs to do to win. The players know each other's strengths and weaknesses and know how to play off of them. For that reason, the Heat will be a force to be reckoned with once again.
This one is easy, but that does not diminish its importance.
The Heat are the most experienced team in the league. They have been through it all together, and because of that, they are prepared for any challenge that comes their way.
Let's remember that not only has Miami won the last two titles, but it has also been in the finals the past three years. The Heat have seen it all, and it seems very hard to believe that an opponent can actually fool them. You may be able to overpower them inside or exploit certain weaknesses, but you are not going to outsmart Miami.
The fact that the Heat are so battle-tested will obviously come in handy against younger ballclubs that haven't fully ripened and also against the teams that haven't been through many wars in the past, as those potential opponents will not be able to stake claim to that advantage over Miami.
It's possible that the Heat may no longer be the best team in the NBA, but they are certainly the most experienced, and sometimes, that makes all the difference.
Outside of a couple of big plays here and there (particularly down the stretch of Game 6), Chris Bosh was awful during the 2013 Finals, so awful that he scored zero points in Game 7.
Bosh was also routinely dominated by Tim Duncan and appeared to look absolutely lost at times. Not that anyone should be ashamed of being outplayed by Duncan, but for the highest-paid player on the Heat, the level of abuse that he took was unacceptable.
The good news is, despite Bosh's lackluster performance, Miami still won, and you have to think that he can only go up from here. It just doesn't seem plausible to think that Bosh could play any worse than that, and it also doesn't seem likely that he will put up another doughnut in a big game.
What Bosh really needs to do is stop shooting so many threes. He shot them at a 28.4 percent clip in 2012-13. Even the most casual basketball fan in the world knows that that isn't very good. He must focus on his mid-range game and using his length and athleticism to slash to the basket. That is when he is most effective.
While it is blatantly obvious that Dwyane Wade is not the player he once was, he can still be the best on the floor for stretches. We saw this during the 2013 Finals, particularly in Games 4 and 7.
Do the Heat win the title last season without Wade playing like a star in those two contests? Absolutely not. Wade knew he needed to step up in order for his team to come out on top and he did, balky knees and all. The 31-year-old proved that he still has something left in the tank.
At this point of Wade's career, it would probably behoove Erik Spoelstra to religiously monitor—and limit—his minutes throughout the regular season. Let's face it; the regular season means virtually nothing to the Heat. It's much more important for D-Wade to be healthy for the playoffs than it is for the team to win 65 games.
If Wade can do what he did in 2013, picking his spots and showing up in a big way when Miami needs him most, the Heat will have a good chance of making it three straight. The question is, does the future Hall of Famer have it in him? Better yet, does his body have it in it?
You probably don't need this spelled out for you, as you obviously knew this was going to be the primary reason that the Heat have a shot at three-peating. In case you do, though, here it is.
LeBron James is quite easily the best player on the planet at the moment, and as long as Miami has him in its corner, anything is possible. Not only is he a dominant force, but he opens up his teammates, as guys like Mario Chalmers and Shane Battier can really hurt you from distance if you pay too much attention (is there a such thing?) to James (see: Battier in Game 7 of the 2013 Finals).
This is also someone who can play a full 48 minutes without breaking much of a sweat. While you have to wonder how long he can continue to do that, the fact remains that, thus far, James has proved to be fully capable of going wire-to-wire and playing at an extremely high level the entire way. This guy never seems to run out of gas, and to say that is scary is an understatement.
Basically, the Heat have LeBron James, and over the past two years, that has been their trump card. Can it work again this season?