Bold Prediction: Jeff Van Gundy Thinks Miami Can Top the 1995-96 Bulls
The Heat in Miami continues to get turned up, and now the bulls-eye target across the team's chest got more magnified with recent comments made by an ESPN analyst.
Jeff Van Gundy is never one to hold back his thoughts as an ABC/ESPN analyst. To hear Van Gundy make a bold prediction in regards to the new Miami Heat is nothing really knew. I mean this is a guy who held onto Alonzo Mourning’s leg and was dragged around as if he were a young child’s blankie. So, we know that he will go all out and hold nothing back.
But to say that the new Miami Heat team can actually beat the Chicago Bulls’ record-setting, 72-win season of 1995-96 seems a little bit on the loony side.
Well, that is exactly what Van Gundy predicted while a guest on “The Waddle and Silvy Show” on ESPN 1000 this past Monday.
Van Gundy went even further to say that the Heat are also good enough to go after the Los Angeles Lakers’ 33-game win streak set in the 1971-72 season and that Miami will not lose two games in a row all season.
Now, Van Gundy was quick to cover himself a little by saying that all this could happen barring injury or any other unforeseen events that could transpire through an 82-game season.
Come on. They haven’t even played a single game together yet. I know that LeBron James did just win 66 games with his former crew in Cleveland and that his current crew is probably better than the one he had in Cleveland, but those guys also had been playing together for years. It is not like the Cavaliers were winning 66-plus games in all of James’ seven years with the team.
Even that Bulls team that did win 72 games had been developing team chemistry for years. It didn’t just suddenly become this dominating team overnight. Plus, it had already won together, so the team actually had more to play for than just a title.
First and foremost, the Heat have to win the title before even thinking about setting the regular season wins record. That is why they all went there. Not to win 73, 74, 75, or 82 games during the regular season, but to win an NBA Championship. And according to James, they aren’t going to win just one, two, three, four, or five, but they will win at least six if they do it right and take care of business.
So, before we go and get bold with dropping predictions of just how good this team will be, let the Heat win a title or two first, and then let’s start talking about win totals and winning streaks.
They Haven’t Even Played a Game Together
Sure, the Miami Heat look pretty darn good on paper. They have three All-Stars and have also put together some nice pieces to accompany their “Big Three”. But, they still have to learn to play together.
Also, they are not the only team in the league that has a dominating set of three and a nice core of role players to go with them. In addition, those other teams in the league that have their own trios have been already been playing together. They know how everyone fits into their scheme.
Is It Going To Be LeBron James or Dwayne Wade?
Whose team is it? It is Wade’s town, and James is the new guy in South Beach, but he is no ordinary Robin if Wade is in fact Batman. In the close games, who is going to have the ball in his hands?
I think history would show that Wade has stepped up more than James has with the game on the line, but James has also had a few clutch moments of his own. How are they going to figure out in the timeout who starts out with the ball and who gets to take final shot?
Erik Spoelstra vs. Pat Riley
I think that Spoelstra is a fine coach. What he has been able to do with just Wade on the team in the past few seasons has been very impressive. He is a terrific young coach, but like with the Heat, the bulls-eye on his chest is pretty big.
If this team does not perform as well as the experts are predicting, how long will it be before Riley decides to step in and take over as head coach? Also, how will it affect Spoelstra’s coaching when he sees that Riley is watching his every move?
I know that Riley has always been there during Spoelstra’s coaching tenure, but it is going to be much different with the team that Riley has put together. What if the Heat do lose two in a row next year? Is that all the room for error that Riley will give Spoelstra? If it is, Spoelstra will know who to blame.
Bosh is a superstar player, but he has yet to perform under the bright lights like James and Wade have on an everyday basis. He was the man in Toronto and was expected to perform at a high level, but he was also in Toronto. The Raptors weren’t exactly a top-tier team in the league while Bosh was there.
James was the “Chosen One” and has had to deal with the pressure of the bright lights since his first game. Wade’s play has earned him the spotlight, and he has also played in big games in the first seven years of his career, having won an NBA Championship.
But back to Bosh. He is the wildcard in all of this. If this team does go through some struggles I think that he will get the blame before James or Wade do. It is Wade’s town and James is “King James”. If someone has to take the fall Bosh seems like the candidate.
I am a big Bosh fan, having had a chance to see him play in college at Georgia Tech. Out of the “Big Three”; I think that the pressure on him is less than the pressure on Wade and James. However, that does not mean that he wouldn’t have to receive any of the blame.