The long-awaited NBA season is on the horizon as the preseason has started and excitement is extremely high regarding the overhauled Miami Heat team. Numerous articles, reports, and segments have been dedicated to the Heat and their new power trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.
So many questions remain up in the air about this team. Can they gel? Who is the leader? Will egos get in the way? Do they have what it takes to knock off the Lakers? Well, those questions are on the brink of being answered as the regular season is less than three weeks away.
Although it is only preseason, the spotlight is already shining on this Heat team. Their preseason opener against Detroit on Tuesday was nationally televised, with the media all over the game and the attendance a lot higher than usual for a preseason contest. Since so much attention is being focused on the Heat, it could be easy for this newly constructed team to get distracted.
With a preseason that could prove a lot about the colors of this team, the Miami Heat should have goals that they set before their season opener against Boston on Oct. 26th. Here are the five biggest goals for the Heat during the preseason.
Allen Levin is a senior journalism student at the University of Central Florida. He can be reached at www.allenlevin.com and you can follow him on twitter at twitter.com/allenlevin13
With all the media attention and hype surrounding them, it could become difficult to stay focused. They are one of the most talked about topics in sports right now and ESPN has gone as far as to launch a "Heat Index" that will follow Miami's "Big Three" throughout the season.
Guys like Chris Bosh, Mike Miller, and other role players are not accustomed to having this much attention around them. While LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are frequently talked about in the media, the other players haven't experienced this type of limelight and it could be easy for them to get drawn in.
Team captains and leaders like Udonis Haslem, Wade, and LeBron need to keep this core focused and ready for the long season that awaits. Coach Spoelstra will also play a big role in keeping his players focused on basketball and not the hype. If they are going to be prepared for the regular season, they need to stay as focused as possible.
One of the major concerns that people have had about this team is if they can gel right away in order to be successful. Many critics are questioning how the chemistry will work.
The Heat need to use the preseason as a time to gain chemistry and learn to work together. This team has been completely restructured with a plethora of new faces that need to learn and understand the Heat system in a very small amount of time.
By the same token, Miami has brought back seven players from last year's roster. So, they will also need to get used to all the fresh talent on the team and playing on a team that contains three superstars instead of just one.
This preseason is a critical time for the Heat to bond and get the chemistry flowing.
The Heat are already facing adversity after just one game into the preseason, as they lost Dwyane Wade to a hamstring injury three minutes into the contest against the Pistons on Tuesday.
Injuries are a part of every sport and teams have to adapt when a key player goes down. There might be times during the season when one member of the Big Three suffers an injury and the rest of the team will have to adjust.
Not that Wade's injury is a benefit, but the fact that he will be out for two weeks with a mild injury provides a test and learning experience for the team.
You're probably thinking that this injury is very detrimental because it gives the Heat no time to allow the "Miami Thrice" to play together and gain chemistry. However, it's better that an injury occur now rather than later on in the season when the games count. Wade's injury allows James and Bosh to take on a bigger leadership role and experience carrying the team when a crucial piece is missing.
Obviously, LBJ and Bosh are already leaders, but they are the ones that switched area codes, and without the Heat's established captain (Wade), they get to experience adversity in a way they are not used to. This will only make them stronger.
Although it's only preseason, the Heat should have a goal to come out strong right away. And they already did that in a convincing 105-89 blowout victory over the Pistons. However, throughout the rest of the preseason, they should continue to play as hard and as motivated as possible.
With all the scrutiny this team endured, they should want to prove the naysayers wrong immediately. They need to have a chip on their shoulder as they enter this season, so why not start right away? King James apparently already has that chip as he came out of the gates with 12 points in his first quarter in a Heat uniform.
The team needs to keep up this sense of urgency because they have a target on their back and everyone is watching them. So, the Heat should act as if the preseason is the real deal and prove doubters wrong right away by dominating the opposition.
While the Big Three are obviously already cemented in the starting lineup, there have been questions as to who will fill out the starting center and point guard positions.
It appears that Joel Anthony is the favorite to man the middle and that Miami-native Carlos Arroyo is the favorite to run the point. However, there is still uncertainty at both positions, with Coach Spoelstra saying that LeBron, Wade, and Mike Miller could all see time at the point position this season. Mario Chalmers is also in the mix to get his starting job back.
Also, rookie center Dexter Pittman turned some heads with eight points and two rebounds off the bench against the Pistons, while starter Anthony had zero points and only two boards.
Since neither the center or point guard positions are set in stone, the Heat need to utilize the preseason to finalize the starting lineup, as well as the lineup as a whole. This is the time to test out various lineups and see what works best and is most effective.
With critics already questioning the chemistry of the Big Three, Miami can't afford to be second guessing who will round off the starting rotation.