Rest easy for now doubters, the Miami Heat missed out on the gold. However, after a year under their belt don't expect the same.
Expectations were through the roof last year for the rebuilt Miami club. Rarely in history have we seen a team with so much capability and talent form together like this. As expected, the Heat took much criticism and hatred from opposing fans, but that's understandable.
After signing as a free agent with fellow stars Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, LeBron James became the biggest villain in the NBA. While he has been the most talented player in the NBA for the past few years, many feel James committed a sin by joining the Heat. This trio proved that they could be deadly at times, it just wasn't meant to be last season.
Seeing Miami lose on the biggest stage of them all is satisfying for many fans, but this team is a serious contender to right the ship next season.
While all seems good for the future in South Beach, some tweaks could be made. The following are a list of steps Miami should consider to solidify themselves as Eastern Conference favorites.
No secret here: The Miami Heat got their tails spanked in the NBA Finals. The good thing is much can be learned from this. The super team has weaknesses, now they can pick them out and correct the wrong.
No one said this road was going to be easy for Miami, but often times they looked to take pure talent for granted. Chemistry was off as expected starting the season and eventually progressed come playoff time.
However, they pulled a complete 180 in the NBA Finals.
Miami turned the ball over with unnecessary decision making and lack of an offensive flow against the Mavericks. Not only that, come fourth quarter, superstar LeBron James seemed completely out of his element.
Being the most talented team in the NBA doesn't guarantee a championship.
The Mavericks proved that having a solid offensive flow, great chemistry, and a good work ethic are the keys to winning. Look for Miami to learn this and come back better next season.
Without a question the Miami Heat need a valuable point guard.
No, Lebron or Wade shouldn't take point, instead they should be surrounded by a great role-playing ball handler.
Last season, four point guards started at least one game for the Heat: Carlos Arroyo, Mike Bibby, Eddie House, and Mario Chalmers.
With many veteran free agents about to hit the market, it's likely that Miami will bring some new talent in.
T.J. Ford is one of those aforementioned free agents that would be a great fit in Miami.
In a limited role, Ford is a reliable game manager who can always be a threat to score. Due to injuries it would be unlikely he would see big minutes, but Miami doesn't need a standout point guard.
The best option for the Miami Heat happens to be restricted free agent Mario Chalmers. While coming off the bench for most of the year, Chalmers rarely got a chance to shine for the Heat. However come playoff time he came up solid. He showed he was never afraid to take big shots and thrived in pressure situations.
Chalmers most underrated aspect would be his overall defense. Using his quick hands, he is always a legitimate threat to shut down a defender or create crucial turnovers.
If Chalmers gets his chance to find a steady spot in the rotation, look for him to compliment the Big Three well.
The decision, the welcoming party, the crying, and mocking Dirk's sickness are just some of the things this Miami Heat had working against them in the media.
While not all of it was bad stuff, it was obviously going to be put under a microscope by haters and critics alike. With year one in the book, look for attention to slowly fade away from the Miami Heat, allowing them to focus.
The speculation is over and we have seen a glimpse of what this team can do. Without them drawing any more negative attention their way, the Heat will stay focused for the time being.
As a fan, nothing angered me more than seeing Mike Bibby or Erick Dampier check into a game.
Neither player brought much that could help Miami succeed, and I'm pretty sure I speak for most fans when I say we wont miss them.
Miami has a huge void to fill by acquiring a valuable starting center. The Heat did a nice job last season keeping opponents from constantly abusing them inside, but a solid body in-the-paint could do wonders for the team's overall approach.
Samuel Dalembert would be a perfect fit in Miami based on if they could offer a proper contract. His athletic ability plays nicely with the Heat superstars and he is one of the more versatile defending centers in the game.
Offensively he would help clean up the glass to create second chance opportunities. Along with that, the best thing about Dalembert's offensive game is he does not demand touches to be effective.
Former Nuggets' star Nene would also be an interesting fit. While one of the more coveted free agents in the class, Nene would likely pursue a contract offering more money and opportunity. However, his efficient scoring and big body could be just what Miami needs.
This is a need Miami cannot look past and will most likely address. An ideal center would be a big-bodied, physical defender who will contest shots at the rim
While fans love what Joel Anthony has pitched in, the truth is he is sometimes a liability on the floor. Anthony should pick up plenty of deserved minutes off the bench to provide a spark.
Head coach Erik Spoelstra wasn't phenomenal in the NBA Finals last year, but then again no one else was besides Wade. Sure Spoelstra was out-coached by former championship coach Rick Carlisle, but give him a break.
Being thrown a championship-caliber team sounds nice, but a lot of work still has to be done. Chemistry issues were crucial to a slow start, but after the Heat stuck with Spoelstra, he led them to an impressive finish to the regular season.
The Heat organization gave Spoelstra his first shot at a coaching position after serving as Miami's video coordinator for years. Slowly building his way up, it was obvious that the young guy was a good fit to stay in Miami for a long time.
Why call for his head after leading his team to the NBA Finals?
Spoelstra is a wizard when it comes to being a defensive coach, but he is still learning the intangibles. If Pat Riley, one of the greatest coaches in NBA history, has confidence in Spoelstra, so should fans.
Give the guy another shot, it could be a monumental regret if he gets a shot elsewhere.
Miami's lack of depth was truly visible last season and hurt them in the long run. A lot of this was because Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem missed a major chunk of time because of respective injuries, but having Jamaal Magloire play relevant minutes should never be an option.
While Miami has one of the more complete teams in the NBA in a variety of areas, they could use some depth to help with that.
Miami is short on funds, especially depending on how the lockout plays a role in things, but it's still a sexy destination for many reasons.
Aging veterans looking for one more shot at a NBA championship should be inclined to help the Big Three in their redemption quest. Once money is no longer a major factor for veterans without a championship, they will often sign veteran minimum contracts to contribute.
Injuries were a major concern for Miami last year, but I am a strong believer that Miami could take a shot at acquiring a few more injury prone players. Players like Tracy McGrady or Michael Redd could provide bonus scoring for the Heat if healthy. They would not be expected to play major minutes, in turn keeping their legs as fresh as possible.
Gaining some athleticism off the bench could be a way to go as well. Miami had plenty of players on the bench last season that were at the end of their careers. The difference between these guys and most is they looked like they forgot how to run, jump, or move in general.
Boosting the defensive attack could help as well. Look for names like Jeff Foster or the more expensive Shane Battier to be discussed.
Any approach Miami takes, expect them to come with a full solid rotation.
Chris Bosh should not be considered the third wheel of Miami's big three. However, considering him a third option is understandable, albeit a blessing.
Offensively, there aren't many power forwards in the NBA that posses the constant threat Bosh brings to table. While not possessing the strongest body in the world, Bosh can beat defenders off the dribble and be a consistent asset with his mid-range shooting ability.
Bosh doesn't need to be the most aggressive player in the league to be effective. He has shown he can rebound and play good team defense. However, with not much help inside Bosh was under a lot of pressure defensively.
Miami will most likely compliment the 6'11" power forward with a defensive-minded force of a center. This will allow Bosh to focus more on what he does best: score.
Establishing him as a legit option inside will open up many opportunities for role players. Not many defenders will have an easy time guarding Bosh one-on-one and he will most likely draw plenty of attention.
No more "Bosh Spice". I am still waiting to see "Boshasaurus Rex" inside.
I'm not calling for some Batman and Robin roles for James and Wade, that's too played out. However, it's clear that Dwyane Wade is the true leader of the Miami Heat.
He's played his whole career in Miami, bringing the Heat the first NBA championship in franchise history. Maybe the most beloved player in Miami history, Wade is not only the player fans want to see lead, but the proven leader as well.
I'll say LeBron is the better player, but Wade's play ethic and leadership abilities have never been questioned. Miami fans have always trusted in Wade to lead them to great things and that shouldn't change.
Wade has shown he can be clutch in big situations, but rarely received opportunities last season. His NBA Finals performance solidified why he is the leader of this project.
Expect LeBron to take a heavy load off Wade's shoulders, but when all is said and done Wade should lead the team.
The scary thing about this Miami Heat team is they haven't tapped into their full potential yet. Yes, they made it to an NBA Finals, but didn't look like the fluent team they could be.
Miami has one of the best offensive and defensive attacks the NBA has possibly ever seen, but with a few tweaks they can become legendary.
Championships are on the way for Heat fans and players, but the quantity depends on how fast the Heat can realize how good they can be.
It was interesting watching how the Heat dismantled the Boston Celtics and the Chicago Bulls in last season's playoffs. Maybe they just figured out their opponents after combining for a measly 1-7 record against the two, but it seemed like much more.
When given the motivation and determination to succeed, this is a unstoppable team. If they would have taken the same approach into the NBA Finals, it could have been the Heat winning the six game series.
With three All-Stars leading the way, this team is hungry for success. The failure of the 2010-11 season will be used as motivation to help this team thrive in the future.
Look for the Heat to make it back to the NBA Finals next season, perhaps even gaining redemption and validation along the way.