Miami Heat Season Preview: 6 Reasons They Are the Team to Beat

Luis RodriguezContributor IDecember 14, 2011

Miami Heat Season Preview: 6 Reasons They Are the Team to Beat

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    Any basketball-loving Heat fan can tell you that Miami completely choked in the 2011 NBA Finals. It can't be excused by anyone.

    It's also a known fact that LeBron James consistently had his struggles in the fourth quarter. Anyone who tries to use his triple-double as proof that he did not struggle is simply fighting a losing battle, much like the Heat did against Dallas.

    However, throughout the playoffs, Miami didn't just beat Philly, they dismantled them.

    They didn't beat Boston, they embarrassed them.

    They didn't beat Chicago, they took them to the brink. And just when you thought Rose and the Bulls would crawl back into the series, Miami took the dagger and thrust it into the heart of the city.

    For some odd reason, people get amnesia when talking about the Heat; they simply forget the good despite the fact that at one point during the playoffs, America's worst nightmare was about to become a reality.

    Let's take a look at why people need to snap out of their 2011 Finals trance and start seriously worrying about the Miami Heat.

1. They Still Have the Best Player in the World

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    For all the rumors and hoopla surrounding nearly every other team, the Heat have taken a very low-key approach to the 2011 season. 

    New York got Tyson Chandler.

    Dallas got Lamar Odom.

    LA (either team) could get Chris Paul.

    While these are huge signings for the respective teams, people seem to be ready to crown anyone who recently acquired an All-Star as the next NBA champion. What they seem to forget is that Miami still employs the best player in the world, LeBron James.

2. They Still Have the Third-Best Player in the World

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    Maybe there should be an asterisk next to the word "third," depending on how you see it. Regardless, Dwyane is a pretty good player.

    Unfortunately for Wade, he's one year older and will be 30 years old in January. However, it appears as though he's ready to say no to aging.

    Over the course of the prolonged offseason, Dwyane has been working out with legendary trainer Ed Downs. During his training, Dwyane dropped his body fat from 4.8 to 3.5 percent and has lost a good amount of weight.

    While I don't expect Dwyane Wade to have an MVP season like many others, I don't think he'll lose a step to Father Time.

3. Their Biggest Weakness Can Be Hidden

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    To call Miami's center rotation anything but horrible would be an injustice to the game of basketball. Considering that David Stern is still the NBA commissioner, there's enough injustices in the league right now.

    Let's take a look at the center rotation on South Beach: Joel Anthony, Dexter Pittman and Eddy Curry. Ouch.

    The good news is that Miami really doesn't need a lot of production from their centers. Being a defensive-minded team, all Miami really asks of the terrible trio is that they stand in the middle of the floor and eat up space.

    Look for Eddy Curry to be particularly good at eating things.

4. They Have a Complete Team

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    By saying they have a complete team, I don't mean they're solid at spots 1 through 5. I mean that, with the exception of Mike Miller, they have their entire rotation relatively healthy.

    Dwyane Wade's migraines are a thing of the past, Udonis Haslem just recently was 100 percent cleared by his doctor to play, and while Mike Miller continues to be bitten by the injury bug, the Heat acquired Shane Battier to take his place.

    Battier may not have the offensive capabilities of Mike Miller, but he is a much better defender and just as good a shooter. When Miller returns from injury, the Heat bench will look a little like this:

    6 - Udonis Haslem

    7 - Shane Battier

    8 - Mike Miller

    Haslem and Miller could very well be starters on a lot of teams when 100 percent. The same goes for Shane Battier, but at his age, he'd be better suited as a sixth man.

    This adds a ton of depth at the wings that Miami didn't have last year.

5. Mario Chalmers Will Prove Plenty of People Wrong

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    I've said this before, and I'll say it again. Mario Chalmers is probably my second-favorite Heat player.

    One word comes to mind when I think of Rio, and that word is fearless. Reckless comes to mind as well, but recklessness can be coached out of a player.

    What you can't coach is the inability to be rattled. I've seen Chalmers stare at Derrick Rose in the face and play him one on one.

    Of course, Chalmers was beaten to a pulp by Rose, but if you were to judge by Chalmer's demeanor, you'd think he just pickpocketed the league's MVP and took it all the way home for a 360-between-the-legs dunk.

    I've seen him knock 6'11'', 235 lb. Kevin Garnett to the ground and stand over him triumphantly. Chalmers plays with the same ferocity whether he's against Dwight Howard or J.J. Barea.

    If Spoelstra can get Chalmers to limit his turnovers, I strongly believe the league is looking at a Top 10 point guard in Mario Chalmers.

6. Continuity

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    Dallas lost Tyson Chandler, J.J. Barea, and DeShawn Stevenson.

    The Lakers lost Lamar Odom, and there's no telling what the recent rumors have been doing to Pau Gasol's morale.

    Boston is shaping up to be a disaster with all the talk surrounding Rajon Rondo, the Glen Davis trade and the failed David West signing. Not to mention, the guy they traded away their championship center for, Jeff Green, failed his physical.

    A lot of the other teams standing in the way of Miami are also going through plenty of change and drama, with the exception of Chicago and Oklahoma City. 

    Doing nothing and picking up where they left off may just prove to be the best thing the Heat, Bulls and Thunder could have done in this lockout-shortened season.