LeBron James and Dwyane Wade Injuries: Time To Panic for Miami Heat?
In the preseason, Miami was supposed to get the first glimpses of what is going to be the biggest attraction in the NBA this season in LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on the same team.
That lasted three minutes before Dwyane Wade went down with an injury. LeBron James followed suit last night with leg cramps. It's nothing that's going to keep either player out for the start of the season, but could it be the start of more bad luck for the Heat?
Inside I have 10 reasons why the Heat could fall short come next summer.
No. 10: Plenty of Contenders
Just because Miami had the biggest splash in the postseason doesn't mean that the Heat are the team to beat in the entire league.
The Lakers are back-to-back defending champions and have plenty of veteran leaders who know what it takes to win a championship. They will be fired up to defend, with all of this talk about Miami.
There's also an up-and-coming Oklahoma City team who could make the leap this year along with Orlando, who has been very vocal about the Heat. Don't forget Boston, who tried to reload a bit for another run at a title.
No. 9: Other Teams Gelling
One of the big things that Miami needed to do this offseason was learn how to play with each other, and they haven't been able to do that since D-Wade went down with his injury.
Meanwhile, teams like Orlando are getting in reps and so is Boston, who made a couple of offseason pickups as well. Those teams are figuring out their strengths and weaknesses when the games don't matter, putting them at an advantage over Miami, who doesn't have that same luxury at the moment.
No. 8: D-Wade's Injury History
Dwyane Wade has had some injury and durability issues during his career to this point. There was the injury in the 2005 Eastern Conference Finals against Detroit that hampered his play and even caused him to miss a game, a series the Heat would lose in seven games.
In 2006-07, Wade missed 31 games because of injury and missed 21 games the next year because of a knee injury. That's a lot of games, and Wade's played through plenty more injuries that were less severe. He has a very physical style of play and injuries are a big concern when you play like that.
While this is just a tweak, he can go down with injuries later in the year.
No. 7: Rebounding Issues
In the early preseason, it's been clear that Joel Anthony is not working out at center. Anthony has averaged one rebound a game.
That's unacceptable for a center, especially on a team like Miami, regardless of how good his teammates are at rebounding. Anthony was targeted as a bit of a question mark heading into the season, and he's done nothing to dispute that in the preseason.
It's only the preseason, but it's something to keep an eye on while Miami's on defense.
No. 6: Injuries To Other Players
While the team is led by its big three, other key Heat players could cause trouble if they fell to injury.
Players like Mike Miller and Eddie House, players who fill in the gaps and make big plays off the bench, are irreplaceable if they go down. House has won a championship and gives great energy off the bench, and his leadership is needed just as much as LeBron or Wade.
Miller is a pure gunner from beyond the arc, and Miami is expecting big things from him.
No. 5: High Expectations
Once the signing of LeBron James was announced, everyone started asking how many championships this team would win. Not could, but would win. Victory is all but expected and anything less than a ring is a failure for this squad.
That's a lot of pressure for this team, especially Chris Bosh, who hasn't played many playoff games in his career and hasn't gotten out of the first round. It'll be interesting to see how this team responds to the pressure and getting each team's best shot every night.
No. 4: Point Guard Inexperience
Mario Chalmers is another question mark for Miami this year.
Chalmers is a young player who doesn't have much experience and hasn't produced much in his career with the Heat. It remains to be seen how he'll respond to playing against the Rajon Rondo's and the Jameer Nelson's that he'll see in the playoffs.
Miami may have to get creative defensively to try and cover up for Chalmers' deficiencies. The same goes for Carlos Arroyo on the defensive end.
No. 3: Lack of Size
One thing Miami doesn't really have are big men that can go toe-to-toe with the best big men in the league.
Chris Bosh isn't exactly a physical player and plays a more finesse game when he's on the court. Joel Anthony isn't exactly what you'd call a solid option to defend players like Dwight Howard either. It's going to be interesting to see how the Heat respond to playing big, physical players in the frontcourt.
If you're going to beat Miami, it's going to be with your bigs besting their bigs in the paint.
No. 2: Erik Spolestra
Once the big three was put together in Miami, the question was if Pat Riley would eventually come down from the front office to yet again coach the team.
Dwyane Wade has come out in support of Erik Spolestra, but he's also a big fan of Riley.
If Riley wants to come down and try to coach his way to another ring, he's going to do it. He did it to Stan Van Gundy and if the Heat struggle, whispers will start and that's no way to be coaching a team.
There's a lot of pressure on Spolestra to get the team rolling from the start.
No. 1: Lack of Chemistry
The one thing Miami needed to do in the preseason was get on the same page as a unit. The Heat needed to find out what their stars' roles were going to be when they were on the court at the same time.
Miami got to do that for a whopping three minutes. The Redeem Team was so successful because they played together for so long and had training camps. Miami needed reps together to figure out who was going to lead in certain situations and who would take a lesser role.
There's a lack of chemistry no matter what anyone in Miami says, and the Heat will struggle to figure that out as they play on the fly to start the season.