LeBron James and Dwyane Wade's Miami Heat: 10 Reasons They Are The Favorites
Seriously, the Miami Heat are on fire.
In fact they shouldn't be allowed to wear those fresh red jerseys. They're simply too hot, winning 19 of 20, making them the hottest team in the NBA.
After beginning the season in a state of turmoil with a 9-8 record, many were shrieking for coach Erik Spoelstra's head.
Well the Heat have turned ship around without Pat Riley's return to the sidelines. Miami is the No. 1 contender for the 2011 NBA Championship, and here's why.
10. LeBron and Wade Have Room to Improve Offensively, Together
Huh? LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are tearing the league up, right? Although this may be true of late, they haven't reached an elite level of cohesion just yet.
Often times, they take turns with scoring bursts. One stretch LeBron carries the load, the next it's Wade's turn.
For them truly to be unstoppable on the offensive end, they need to work together. This means more cutting off the ball by Wade. Although they've improved in this area there is room to get better.
How about running pick-and-rolls with Wade and James? LeBron rolling to the hole for a vicious slam is a scary thought.
9. Spoelstra Hasn't Even Experimented With LeBron's Versatility Yet
Imagine a 6-8, roughly 270-pound behemoth with a sprinter's speed and an ox's strength. Hello, LeBron.
Spoelstra hasn't really experimented with LeBron as a true point guard or in the post as power forward or center.
It's a wonder if he ever will, but why not? The regular season is about finding the best possible combinations for your team before playoff time.
Imagine a lineup of James, Wade, Jones or Miller, Bosh, and Dampier. Defensively the unit is unstoppable and a great matchup with a team like Boston because of the size it brings.
Now imagine a lineup of Arroyo, Wade, Jones or Miller, James, and Bosh. What power forward in his right mind could contain LeBron on the baseline?
My point is until they fully utilize LeBron's versatility, this team won't peak offensively.
8. Mike Miller Has Yet To Crack The Rotation
There's no question Mike Miller is the team's fourth-best player behind Bosh, James, and Wade.
He's healthy but still hasn't cracked the rotation consistently because of the Heat's incredible success. They plan to work him in slowly.
With his ability to not only drain the three ball, but also provide another playmaker off the dribble, he adds another dimension to the Heat offense.
He's also an underrated rebounder/passer and led all shooting guards last year in both assist ratio and rebound ratio.
Although the Heat might suffer in the short run integrating Miller, he no doubt makes them a better, more dangerous team in the long run.
7. Miami's Stable of Centers Allow Them To Match Up With Any Team Inside
Erick Dampier provides toughness and physicality inside when needed. Joel Anthony can guard both the four and five spot.
Anthony is one of the Heat's most valuable players. Call me crazy, but he has become a terrific defender. He alters shots, blocks shots, and rebounds, which is all they need form him. His hustle and energy is also unmatched. What he does doesn't always show up in the box score.
Chris Bosh is an excellent pick-and-roll defender.
No matter the opponent's style, Miami has the combination of bigs to matchup with anyone. With Boston they'll utilize bruisers like Dampier. Against more finesse teams without beef, they'll use Anthony more.
Although center is a perceived weakness by many, it's actually a strength. Collectively, the Heat are strong at the position because of their versatility.
6. Miami Is Elite Defensively
Miami ranks third in point allowed and defensive efficiency.
This has been done even with a liability defensively at the point guard position. Mario Chalmers can't keep my grandmother in front him, while Carlos Arroyo lacks the foot speed to be a great perimeter defender.
In the playoffs against teams with cat-quick guards like Boston (Rondo), Miami can opt to take a traditional point guard off the court and put Wade or James on the opposing team's point guard.
James Jones has quietly surprised this season on the defensive end. He leads the team in charges and has become a valued help defender.
The Heat's strength defensively is in LeBron and Wade's ability to shutdown the perimeter. No team in NBA history has won it all without a strong defense.
5. Udonis Haslem Will Be Back
You really think an injury is going to keep UD out for good? Dream on, Celtics fans.
This guy has the heart of a lion and will do everything within his power to get back before the playoffs, which he will do.
He's one of the league's best defensive forwards and can even play center if needed. He also has a lights-out mid-range jumper, which adds another weapon to the Heat's offensive arsenal.
The playoffs are all that matter, and this guy will be back for them.
4. There Could Be a Trade Coming
It might not happen, but it should.
Miami can get better at the point guard position. Carlos Arroyo has played superb, shooting an incredible 51 percent from three.
The problem lies within his backup, Mario Chalmers, the only other point guard on the roster. Chalmers has no basketball I.Q. He doesn't know when to push the ball and never puts the ball where his teammates need it, when they need it.
His only role offensively is purely as a spot-up shooter, where he is average, because of his inability to finish anywhere within the three-point line.
Defensively his best weapon is tackling the dribbler because he can't keep anyone in front of him. Anyone who says different clearly hasn't watched this kid as closely as I have.
Although he might not have value on his own, the Heat can dangle their injury exception for Haslem along with Chalmers for a point guard like Luke Ridnour, Daniel Gibson, or Keyon Dooling.
Some team will be looking to dump a contract and the Heat should bite on the opportunity if it arises.
3. Mental Toughness
There haven't been any teams in the league that have had to withstand this ridiculous amount of criticism, from LeBron James all the way down to Erik Spoelstra.
How about LeBron having the best game of his career in Cleveland, the most hostile environment in sports history?
This team has heard it all and has pushed through to greatness. Yes it's early, but they are mentally strong.
The only legitimate threat to the Heat in the East is the Celtics.
What's their average age again, 40?
The odds of the Celtics actually staying fresh and healthy through the whole season and playoffs is incredibly low. Even one of their young guns in Rajon Rondo has had injury woes this year.
There is no chance this team is at full strength when these two powers match up in April or June. Throw in the fact that Miami WILL be the one seed with home court advantage, and It's ova.
The Celtosaurs are done.
1. They Will Have The Two Best Players On The Court In Every Game They Play
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are the two best players in the NBA. Forget Kobe, Dwight, or Kevin.
LeBron and Dwyane teamed up for a reason. To win championshipS. I capitalize the "S" for a reason.
They want to do something the league has never seen before and that's have two ball-dominant wing superstars win it all on the same team. Alpha males will coexist and they will win.
There is no precedent for the 2010/11 Miami Heat. They are about to make history.
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