Miami Heat: LeBron James and Heat Will Blaze A Trail Into NBA Finals
Whenever a new force emerges in the NBA, the doubters seem to raise their voices louder than ever before.
With that in mind, it is no surprise that Miami Heat fans find themselves flooded daily by the "expert" opinions of fellow basketball supporters.
The naysayers and critics have come out in full force, whether it be amateur sports journalists like myself, professional sports analysts, or even former NBA legends.
A news report I found particularly amusing came from LeBron James' former Cleveland teammate Wally Szczerbiak, who claimed that a pairing of LeBron and Dwyane Wade would never translate to on-court success.
Even here on Bleacher Report the anti-Heat sentiment is overwhelming, and I've recently found myself immersed in negativity.
Hadarri Jones, a friend and fellow Featured Columnist, has been busy pumping out articles reinforcing the fact that the Lakers are the team to beat in 2010-11. If you're a Lakers fan, by the way, make sure you find your way to his page.
This article is a response to all the doubters, who seem to have forgotten their allegiance to any one team and all joined the "Anti-Heat" squad.
While some may think this is biased, I'll be the first to admit that this is true. Would you expect anything else from a Featured Columnist, and life-long fan of the Heat? Regardless, it is still more objective than a lot of the comments I have been reading from Heat-bashing fans.
In addition, it is quite a lengthy article, and I haven't been able to provide responses to all the questions that doubters have raised. This piece will focus solely on the challengers that the Heat will face in the Eastern Conference.
It is my belief that the Heat will have no problem reaching the Finals next season, and will dispose of any challenge that is present in the East come playoff time.
The biggest question mark regarding the Heat's lineup has been the weak link at the center position. How will the Heat contain the likes of Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum? As this article will focus on the East, let's leave Bynum and the Lakers out of the discussion for today.
In response to Dwight and the Orlando Magic, does it really matter? Too many questions have been asked about how the Heat will defend one or two impact players from other teams, instead of how other teams will stop LeBron and Wade.
Seriously though, does anyone have the answer to that question? Which of the Magic's players are going to stop LeBron and Wade? Is it going to be Vince Carter, Rashard Lewis or Quentin Richardson? Don't forget notorious defensive liability J.J. Redick!
In fact let's be realistic and use the term "contain" instead of "stop", because clearly nobody has a chance at stopping the Heat's dynamic duo of perimeter superstars.
Secondly, any fan who thinks Dwight will be able to carry the Magic over the Heat is nuts. Recent history has shown that Dwight lacks the offensive finesse, post-game and mid-range jumper to be a truly dominant offensive player.
The guy has never averaged more than 20.7 PPG in the playoffs and 20.7 PPG in the regular season, ridiculous when you consider that the league is seriously depleted at his position. He's a ridiculous rebounder and defensive anchor, but unless he's seriously improved offensively this off-season, he's not averaging more than 25 PPG in any given series.
The Heat know this, which is they have gone out of their way to acquire a list of big bodies who will each take their turn hassling Howard. Zyrundas Ilgauskas, Joel Anthony, Jamaal Magloire and Juwan Howard will be more than capable of completing that simple task.
Don't get me wrong though, I'm not saying the Heat will dominate the Magic. I'm just throwing some fact into the fray of ridiculous arguments I've heard recently. In my opinion, Jameer Nelson's ability to get into the heart of the defense will be the x-factor if the Magic are to be victorious.
Moving on, let's talk about the Boston Celtics.
Outmatched would be the one word that encapsulates the way I feel about a Celtic-Heat showdown. The "weak-point" now moves from center to point guard, as Kendrick Perkins and Jermaine O'Neal aren't dominating any team inside.
How will the Heat contain Rajon Rondo? I acknowledge this is slightly harder. Do we see how Mario Chalmers goes throughout the year, and decide closer to the time? What about sticking LeBron or Wade on Rondo? Surely that would work.
Again I'll counter with this question, how do the Celtics contain LeBron and Wade? Ray Allen is too old to chase Wade around, and Paul Pierce lacks the quickness to contain Wade or LeBron. What about Tony Allen? Oh wait, he's left for Memphis.
Without Allen slowing Wade in the second half, the Heat would have taken the first game of last season's first round playoff series. Hell that could have changed the outcome of the entire series, and the Celtics may not have even made it out to the Finals in the end.
That said, the Celts do play great team defense. If that and Rondo is enough to beat the Heat remains to be seen, although all logic points to a negative answer.
Now that we've exposed the Heat's two biggest threats in the East, who is left?
The Atlanta Hawks have no chance, so let's not even go there. Charlotte Bobcats? We'll see if they even make the playoffs. An intriguing team is the Milwaukee Bucks, who have a legitimate post-presence in Andrew Bogut and some talented wings. They likely lack the perimeter defense to make significant noise though.
For the moment I'll call the Chicago Bulls the dark-horse to legitimately contest with the Heat. I'm a big advocate of Derrick Rose as the future point guard of the league, but I think the Bulls are too lacking on the wings on both offense and defense.
If you've managed to get through this entire article I commend and thank-you for your attention and time. If you've just skimmed the page and are picking up reading here, let me clear things up and leave you with a bold prediction.
My intention is not to preach mindless garbage about how the Heat are the best thing since sliced bread. It is merely to provide some counter-arguments to the questions raised by Heat doubters. You may as well know both sides of the story if you're going to indulge in Heat-bashing.
Haters can raise whatever doubts what they want, but this is history in the making. Whether the Heat will win the championship in 2010-11, or more specifically beat the Lakers, is a debate for another day. The Heat will however, have no problem disposing of any and every opponent in the East that stands between them and the NBA Finals.
You can take that to the bank.
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