Biggest Weakness: Interior Presence
I know we're just two weeks into the season, and the Heat are under more scrutiny than any other team in the league...and any team in recent memory. But is it possible they had the wrong blueprint in the offseason?
Here's a list of every NBA champion team in the post-Jordan era and their power forwards/centers:
San Antonio ('99): Tim Duncan, David Robinson
Los Angeles ('00): Robert Horry, Shaquille O'Neal
Los Angeles ('01): Horace Grant/Robert Horry, Shaquille O'Neal
Los Angeles ('02): Robert Horry, Shaquille O'Neal
San Antonio ('03): Tim Duncan, David Robinson
Detroit ('04): Rasheed Wallace, Ben Wallace
San Antonio ('05): Robert Horry, Tim Duncan
Miami ('06): Udonis Haslem/Antoine Walker, Shaquille O'Neal
San Antonio ('07): Robert Horry/Fabricio Oberto, Tim Duncan
Boston ('08): Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins
Los Angeles ('09): Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Los Angeles ('10): Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Notice the trend?
Even with rule changes that allow point guards to dominate more than they have in decades, teams win championships with post players that can control the paint, rebound and provide a strong defensive presence. The only two possible aberrations ('04 Detroit, '06 Miami) each had physical bangers patrolling the lane.
So the question is, can Wade and LeBron be good enough to add Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem and Joel Anthony to that list?
Bosh is averaging less than six rebounds per game and less than one offensive rebound—he's never had less than 2.4 offensive boards per game in his career.
Udonis Haslem is a great pick-and-pop player and underrated rebounder, but would you really trust him guarding Garnett or Perkins, Gasol or Bynum, or Duncan and Blair in the playoffs?
Zydrunas Ilguaskas and Juwan Howard are on their last legs—at this point they can't give more than 15 solid minutes a game.
As for Joel Anthony...he is who he is.
Maybe we're blowing things out of proportion a bit. Maybe Bosh will eventually thrive in his role and become an unstoppable third-wheel on a dynasty. But he hasn't been tested in big games (11 career playoff games) and interior defense was never a strong part of his game.
If these bigs can't hold their own (and maybe do a little more) in the playoffs, then there's no way the Heat can beat the Lakers or Celtics (and perhaps the Magic) in a seven-game series.
How They'll Address It
Unfortunately for Miami, the available centers and power forwards on the market are slim pickings. Erick Dampier is still on the market after negotiations with the Rockets fell through but Pat Riley didn't want to sign him a few weeks ago—why would that change now?
Despite a few overreactions that suggest Miami should look to make a trade to boost their depth inside or find more complementary players, the Heat will keep this roster in tact and hope it's enough. And if Bosh becomes more comfortable with his place in the offense, it gives them another dynamic that most teams simply can't prepare for.
The problem is that if Bosh is neutralized, it's difficult to win in the playoffs relying solely on one guy to carry your team...even if it is LeBron or Wade.