NBA Playoffs 2011: The Miami Heat and Their Unshocking Rise

Joe Burgett @JoEburGett_WESenior Writer IIIMay 5, 2011

When I think of the Miami Heat, my natural instinct is to think of Dwyane Wade.

The man helped win an NBA Championship for the Heat five years ago and without him, chances are they wouldn't have won. Of course, nowadays I think of LeBron James too, the man who carried the Cleveland Cavaliers on his back for the bulk of his career.

He carried them to the 2007 NBA Finals. Sure, they didn't win, but James got them there. As we've seen, without James, they are nothing.

But then the forgotten one of the new Big Three is Chris Bosh.

People forget this man is a multi-time NBA All-Star who helped the Toronto Raptors get to the playoffs numerous times. Of course, he is not a player of Wade's or James' caliber, but he is a star player who can contribute. And statistics show that when Bosh is playing, the Heat win far more. So, his role in the Heat lineup has proven to be critical.

It seems to be championship or bust for the new-look Heat squad, and this comes as no surprise. James has seemingly made the Heat the most hated team in the NBA.

Can you blame the fans for hating a guy who takes an hour on ESPN to make "The Decision?"

Sure, he could have gone about things better. But, he is now with the Heat. This was fuel to the fire at the beginning of the year. Fans wanted to boo the Heat, well, those outside Miami anyway.

They had to mesh better, so their record looked awful at the beginning. But then they started to get it going and went on a major win streak.

Thing about this was, we knew the Heat had three star players, but who else was there? Were we to expect Joel Anthony was going to be a major role player?

Mike Miller was a good pickup early. But after that, nothing. Sure, Big Z was there, but it's an older, out-of-his-prime version of the once All-Star center.

The one thing I thought that got them over the hump was the trade for Mike Bibby. It gave them another key to the lineup and a man who could get out and distribute the ball well. Along with this, Bibby is no slouch on the scoring end of things. So, it was a great pickup.

The bench still was called into question. However, having one of the best bench players ever in my opinion in Eddie House helps out the cause. Adding him with Udonis Haslem and Mario Chalmers makes the Heat roster look better than anticipated. Still, there was no standout bench player who, when put in the lineup, could easily pick up where a Heat star left off.

That was until we entered James Jones. He is a young member of the Heat roster but can hit the three as good as anyone right now. We saw him emerge during the season, but his rise in the playoffs made the world take notice.

Having now five players that can hurt you at any moment, one coming off the bench, makes the Heat very scary at this point.

The Celtics are down two games to zero to the Heat as of this writing, and it could be a potential sweep. Still though, the Heat, no matter how well they are doing now and how well they did in the regular season, still have to win that NBA championship this year.

There is more pressure than ever, especially now. If they do beat the Boston Celtics, it's going to make people think the Heat are shoe-ins for the title. However, if they get there and lose, the season means nothing.

This isn't just a time where a team can say, oh, we went this far, we should be proud. No, the Heat have to win for this season to have any meaning at all. It could make them the team to fear now. Sure, there was some fear early, but when teams found they could be beat, that fear left and teams got more confident.

This makes this harder on the Heat. They must bring the fear back. If not, they can go down to any team in the NBA at any given night.

Some say that if they do win, they could only do it because of the Superfriend phenomenon.

However, to those people I say, Michael Jordan needed Scottie Pippen. Pippen proved he could lead a team after he left the Bulls. But without another star to help carry the load, Pippen fell. Keep in mind too, Jordan, although the greatest, never had a title before Scottie Pippen came in. Add him, along with guys like Dennis Rodman, Luc Longley and Ron Harper. Not to mention a ton of other role players who made that team go.

Basically, that Rodman-Pippen-Jordan combination can be seen in one similar fashion to the Heat's James-Wade-Bosh trio: All could do well on their own, but they still needed each other to win the big one.

I know Wade won before, but keep in mind, he also had Shaquille O'Neal, another star to help carry the load.

People want to hate James for leaving the Cavs. They say that if he ever wants to be seen in the same light as Jordan, he should have stayed there and tried to win.

But as I said above, even Jordan never did it on his own. The thing here was, James just left his time to win, while Jordan did not.

Does that make Jordan any greater than James because he stayed in the second city? No.

However, until James wins six titles, more MVP's and headlines more All-Star games, he'll never be seen in the same light as Jordan and rightfully so.

But for people to say his legacy would be tarnished if he won with the Heat makes no sense at all to me.

But the comparisons should die. It's all about the win this year for the Heat. If the Heat win this year, James could easily know he can at least do it, unlike before when he was close but still didn't get it done.

But what do you think? Do the Heat have to win for this season to mean anything?


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