Finished 47-35, third in Southeast Division, fifth in Eastern Conference
First Round: Lost to Boston Celtics 4-1
Additions and Re-Signings
Dwyane Wade via re-signing, LeBron James via free agency, Chris Bosh via free agency, Mike Miller via free agency, Udonis Haslem via re-signing, Zydrunas Ilgauskas via free agency, Jamaal Magloire via re-signing, Joel Anthony via re-signing, Carlos Arroyo via re-signing, Shavlik Randolph via re-signing, James Jones via re-signing, Dexter Pittman via draft, Eddie House via free agency, and Juwan Howard via free agency.
Jermaine O'Neal via free agency, Michael Beasley via trade, Quentin Richardson via free agency, Dorell Wright via free agency, and Daequan Cook via trade.
The Miami Heat are a motivated team. They knew what they wanted when they were going into the offseason and they got it. Every one of Pat Riley's plans came through starting off with the re-signing of Dwyane Wade, closely followed by the signing of Chris Bosh, and then capped off with the signing of the reigning MVP in LeBron James much to the dismay of the rest of the NBA.
Somehow, someway they managed to surround three near-max contract players with a quality bench filled with a plethora of defenders, three-point shooters, and veterans to pay cuts and reduced contracts.
For the first time in four years, Miami can finally say the Heat is on.
The Heat heavily relied on Dwyane Wade as their main scorer, passer, and emotional leader for the past two years as Wade had little to no one to look to when it came down to finding a reliable second scoring option. Jermaine O'Neal proved to be faulty come postseason time when he shot less than 20 percent in last season's loss to Boston, Michael Beasley was too streaky of a shooter and couldn't utilize his strengths, and Udonis Haslem bases most of his scoring on getting open thanks to Wade's ability to attract double teams.
With LeBron James and Chris Bosh on the team now, I don't think Wade will have to worry about finding a second or a third or even a fourth option that can put the ball in the basket without needing his guidance over 48 minutes. Dwyane has played like an MVP the past two seasons by carrying a team filled with veteran's past their prime and rookies to 45 plus win seasons and taking his first scoring title in the process by averaging 30 points two seasons ago.
His scoring dropped off to 27 points last season, but he was still able to carry the team to a fifth seed before an embarrassing series against the eventual Eastern Conference champion Celtics where Wade set the high for points in the postseason with 46 in the team's lone victory.
There are arguably two players in the NBA just as talented as Wade and one of them is playing in Los Angeles and the other just joined Dwyane. LeBron James is coming off another stellar season averaging nearly 30 points, nine assists, and seven rebounds last season with the Cavs. James was in the same boat as Wade when it came down to postseason as the both of them saw their season end at the hand of the Celtics and saw their supporting cast falter when needed most.
The third biggest acquisition in Chris Bosh gives the Heat their first legitimate post presence since Shaquille O'Neal left the team in the middle of the 2006-07 season. Bosh is coming off a career season where he averaged 24 points on 52 percent shooting to go along with 11 rebounds. His former Raptors team cannot boast the same success last season as they failed to make the postseason for the second straight season.
Now that the Heat got all three, how does it work out?
Very easily if you think about it. When these three joined the team, they knew the risks that they were taking. They knew that there would be no room for egos and that each player will need to know their respective role. When LeBron came to the team, he knew he was joining Dwyane Wade's Miami Heat, as did Chris Bosh. If the three of them wanted to continue to be statistical oddities and attempt to outscore teams by themselves, they could have stayed with their respective teams.
There can only be so many double and triple teams an NBA team can throw at any one of those players before they find someone open, whether it will be Wade's ability to drive or drain a jump shot, James' uncanny ability to use his athleticism to drive and draw contact, or Bosh's ability to post up and score over nearly any defender. Every one of these players has their own game and they all know what they are supposed to do on the court, win.
Three players hungry for a championship will set aside their differences if they all have one goal in mind. Go back to the 2005-06 team where the Heat featured some of the biggest egos in NBA history with Shaq, Gary Paton, Antoine Walker, etc. Under the tutelage of Pat Riley and Dwyane Wade, they managed to secure their first title because each player shared one desire, and that was to win.
Then there's the supporting cast.
The Heat were not a good three-point shooting team aside from Quentin Richardson, who led the team with two three-pointers per game on 40 percent shooting. Aside from that, Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade, and Dorell Wright all attempted to contribute, but none could provide the consistent three-point shot that Richardson exhibited on a near daily basis.
By adding Mike Miller, the Heat an incredibly consistent three-point shooter who is coming off a career season where he averaged 48 percent from beyond the arc, making nearly two three-pointers per game. In one season with Washington, he averaged 11 points and six rebounds while hitting a career high shooting percentage from beyond the arc.
The Heat can also look to three-point shooting specialists in James Jones and Eddie House to hit from deep as well. While neither are top quality players, they'll be able to heavily rely on the big three to attract attention away from them and set up easy open jumpers while each player has shown off over their careers that they can hit.
If there is one concern about the Miami Heat, it has been their lack of a quality point guard or center. To address the center issue, the Heat can look at shot blocking specialist Joel Anthony for an answer. Neither position will need to score at will, so a need for a player like Zydrunas Ilgauskas will be unnecessary when the scoring is well under control.
Even though Anthony is undersized at only 6'9", he has shown a stunning ability to block shots. At a little over one per game coming off the bench, and rounding off to three per 36 minutes, Joel will be needed for defense and nothing more. The backup centers in Ilgauskas, Jamaal Magloire, and newly drafted Dexter Pittman will be used primarily to use up some fouls against elite centers, and in Big Z's case space out defenders at the threat of his jump shots.
Udonis Haslem might have cost himself a few games after a drug possession charge that could result in a suspension if convicted. The charge is said to be a felony and could result in a maximum of five years in prison, which would be extremely detrimental to the Heat's quest for a championship. Haslem has shown over the past seven seasons to not only be Wade's right hand man, but surprisingly one of the more clutch players in the league.
In his first season off the bench, Haslem averaged 10 points and eight rebounds as one of the Heat's most reliable shooters when it came down to 15-20 footers in crunch time. Udonis has also proved to be a warrior and outstanding defender, giving 100 percent every game and displaying a true desire to win and doing whatever it takes to benefit the team.
The Heat still have a long road ahead of them and have not been guaranteed anything close to a championship. There are still a number of issues that can be raised, but there is no doubt that this Heat team has the essentials, materials, and then some to win multiple titles over the next few seasons.
Projected Starting Lineup
PG Mario Chalmers
SG Dwyane Wade
SF LeBron James
PF Chris Bosh
C Joel Anthony
This is part 15 in a 30-day series of previews for each NBA team for the upcoming 2010-2011 season. My profile contains the other teams that I have already previewed.
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