Miami Heat: Five Questions That Heat Detractors Refuse To Answer

Robert FeltonAnalyst IISeptember 25, 2010

Miami Heat: Five Questions That Heat Detractors Refuse To Answer

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    ATLANTA - APRIL 19: Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat dunks over Josh Smith #5 and Marvin Williams #24 of the Atlanta Hawks during Game One of the First Round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs at Philips Arena on April 19, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE T
    Doug Benc/Getty Images

    When the formidable triumvir of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh was formed in Miami, countless critics and assorted detractors, generally located outside of the South Beach area, began creating scenarios as to why this team can't win despite having one of the most talented rosters in the league.                                                                                                                                         

    "Their coach is inexperienced," screamed one critic, while giving the benefit of the doubt to the Chicago Bulls' rookie head coach. "They need to play together a while to develop chemistry," was another observation from someone who apparently forgot when Pau Gasol joined the Lakers in mid-season in 2008 and made an immediate impact. "Chris Bosh sucks!" says one fan who doesn't remember last season when the Lakers fans were frothing at the mouth at the prospect of getting him in a Laker uniform, even if it meant trading Andrew Bynum.

    I enjoy some of these arguments, because they are impossible to substantiate. But I also enjoy offering counter-arguments that many of the detractors seem unwilling to address, perhaps because it forces them to face the flaws in their own arguments, which many of the Heat haters just don't want to have to do.

    Here are five questions for the Heat critics that I have presented, that have so far gone unanswered.

"How Do You Keep You Bigs Out Of Foul Trouble?"

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 11:  Mario Chalmers #6 of the Miami Heat is defended by Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center on January 11, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Why It is in Question: One of the biggest assumptions made about the Heat is that their inside game will be weak and therefore, they will be vulnerable to teams with supposed "great centers" who will exploit this vulnerability. Centers like Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum, can exploit them and "dominate the paint." However, when I ask what will those team's do to keep their centers out of foul trouble enough for this prediction to come true (since Wade and James WILL be driving to the basket to collect fouls on the bigs) ,they have no real answer.

    Why Detractors Refuse to Answer it: The problem with answering a question like this is that it forces the detractor to recognize that great size has a vulnerability of its own against great speed. Many of the league's best center's (Bynum, Howard and Yao) are susceptible to foul trouble and if they pick up fouls trying to protect the paint against the big three the "our center will dominate" argument becomes moot.

    They aren't dominating anybody if they're glued to the bench with foul trouble and Heat detractors refuse to address that prospect since it hurts their theory. It's much easier to paint the picture that their center will "destroy" the Heat in the paint than to pay much attention to the defensive end of the court where the Heat will have an advantage as well.

"How Do You Know The Boston Celtics Won't Have Chemistry Issues?"

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    BOSTON - MAY 13:  Shaquille O'Neal #33 of the Cleveland Cavaliers waits to shoot a free throw in the fourth quarter against the Boston Celtics during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2010 NBA playoffs at TD Garden on May 13, 2010 in Bo
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Why is it in Question: "Chemistry." It is the albatross hanging around the neck of the Heat according to their critics. Somehow, despite great motivational minds like Pat Riley, great leaders like Dwyane Wade and all the motivation in the world for LeBron James, Heat detractors contend: This team will not mesh or will flame out when the going gets tough and they will struggle with chemistry issues.

    However, while screaming from the rooftops about the Heat's presumed chemistry issues, the detractors are eerily silent when asked about Boston's chemistry concerns.

    Didn't they just add Shaquille O'Neal? Didn't he have a problem with the systems at his two previous stops, in Phoenix and Cleveland? Wasn't Shaq's enormous ego part of the reason he had to leave L.A. in the first place and he and Kobe were butting heads over team leadership?

    I actually watched the Cavs play last season, both with Shaq and without, and I personally felt that the Cavs played better without Shaq in the lineup. Shaq forced them to play a slower tempo, which stagnated the team's offense and made it difficult for them to get out in the open court where LeBron really thrives.

    Shaq is a difficult man to incorporate into a lineup because he takes up so much space in the paint, makes it difficult to get out on the fast break and is not a significant enough offensive threat to double-team anymore so he will not help improve the team's perimeter offense.

    These are all things that have Heat detractors putting their fingers in their ears and yelling "la-la-la!"

    Why Detractors Refuse To Answer It: The Celtics are the odds on favorite to beat the Heat, (i.e. The team the detractors are praying will knock the Heat off) so assuming that adding Shaq will create no problems with the Celtics team chemistry fits the narrative perfectly. They can tie in into this theory that the Heat's "weak post defense" will be "destroyed" by...well, guys that can't score like Kendrick Perkins and Shaq whose offensive game has greatly diminished, as was shown in the playoffs this year.

    I would venture to argue that incorporating Shaq into Boston's system could undoubtedly have an effect on the chemistry of the Celtics, but by ignoring that possibility the detractors seem more like they are looking for scenarios that the Heat will lose than weaknesses in the Heat's biggest threat.

"How Do You Know The Hate Won't Fuel This Team's Desire To Win?"

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    MIAMI - APRIL 25:  Guard Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat dunks against the Boston Celtics in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena on April 25, 2010 in Miami, Florida.  NOTE TO USER: Use
    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    Why It is in Question: Entering the season, the Miami Heat will be the league's most marked team. Everyone will be looking to beat them, they will be booed in several arenas and most sportscasters will be looking for any sign that the "Big Three" experiment has failed.

    "Oh my look, LeBron threw the pass out of bounds. Clearly this team is not in sync."

    "Oh boy, Bosh just missed a wide open jumper. Is that a sign that he isn't meshing with Wade and James?"

    However, few have considered the prospect that the vehement dislike that this team may face could actually unite them, not divide them.

    Regardless of whether you are a Laker, Celtic, Bulls or Magic fan, nobody in the league wants to see Wade, LeBron, Bosh and their team play with an angry us against the world mentality.   

    Why Detractors Refuse to Answer it: Fear. Plain and simple. It's like the boogieman under the bed. You're so afraid of the consequences of its existence that you don't even want to entertain the thought of it. That's why the detractors refuse to look at this as a potential outcome.

    I've heard a lot lately about Kobe's "desire to prove that he can lead a team to a 3Peat without Shaq. And Shaq's desire to prove that he can win one more title without the Lakers, preferably at their expense, but no one has spoken about the Heat, who have everything in the world to prove this upcoming season.

    They have been hearing ever since the "Decision" that LeBron is a "quitter," that Wade can't "win alone" (who can?), that Bosh will average 2ppg since he's playing with Wade and James, that their bench sucks, that their coach sucks, that Pat Riley sucks.

     I think everyone associated with the Heat has been described in a negative light except the cheerleaders and the the kid that hands the players the Gatorade on the bench.

    What team wouldn't use that much vitriol as incentive to shut the mouths of their detractors? I think if Miami plays with a chip on their shoulder this season, no one will want to face them.

What Success Have Matt Barnes and Ronnie Brewer Had Against Wade?

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    Why is it in Question: Well, fans of the Lakers have been pretty excited about their free agent coup over the summer as they secured the services of backup center Theo Ratliff, secondary point guard Steve Blake and forward Matt Barnes, who will presumably be the Lakers "defensive ace" off the bench. Heat detractors who also happen to be Laker fans cite the Barnes signing as the most significant as he will "help contain Wade defensively." Meanwhile, Bulls fans have their own defensive guru in Ronnie Brewer to "play tough man-to-man defense on Wade." They however, never mention what success, if any, either of these defensive specialist have actually had against Wade.

     Why Detractors Refuse To Answer It: I always felt that both Brewer and Barnes were overrated defenders, but against Wade, I started thinking: Hasn't Wade had some huge games against the Jazz and the Magic in the past?

    As it turns out, he has: Over his career, against Matt Barnes, Wade has averaged 27.3 points on 50% shooting. Hmmmm...That's the kind of lockdown defense the Heat fans can even get behind.

     Meanwhile, the Wade/Brewer matchup looks quite similar (27.6 ppg on 46% shooting). So where does one reach the conclusion that Barnes can "shut Wade down?" It's not reflected in the numbers, even though the Heat haters mention Barnes' "tremendous defensive impact against Wade" without citing a single figure.

    Well, so far, there's not much to cite.

"If This Team Comes Together and Coheres, How Can They Be Beaten?"

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    MIAMI - JULY 09:   LeBron James #6, Dwyane Wade #3 and Chris Bosh #1 of the Miami Heat speak after being introduced to fans during a welcome party at American Airlines Arena on July 9, 2010 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
    Doug Benc/Getty Images

    Why is it in Question: Of all the articles about the Heat's "weakness" and the most common theories predicting their downfall are:

    •  They Will Lack Chemistry
    •  Their Egos Will Flare Up
    •  They Haven't Been Together Long Enough
    •  They Will Get Injured
    •  They Won't Play Team Ball
    •  They Won't Play Good Defense

    Notice something odd about that list? Well, if you guessed that all the theories involve self-sabotage, you'd be correct.

    For all the talk about why they Heat will crash-n-burn this season, one thing has been greatly under reported: What if this team lives up to, or even exceeds expectations? What if they mesh, play well together and become a strong defensive squad as well? What if James and Wade become a great duo and Bosh becomes a consistent third option? What if Mike Miller is coming off the bench and stroking threes and Joel Anthony and Udonis Haslem are blocking shots and grabbing rebounds?

    None of the detractors have focused on this possibility and it may well be fitting. Perhaps, Miami Heat are the only team that can beat the Miami Heat—if they live up to expectations.

    Why Detractors Refuse To Answer It: Because they refuse to say the words: "This team will be tough to beat," so they use language to demonize it in order to downplay the possibility of a team they vehemently despise winning a title.

    I'm still waiting for a recipe for beating this team if they do cohere and I have not seen one from a single detractor.

    How do you stop a team that can put a lineup on the floor where there can be scorers at all five positions? How do you stop LeBron and Wade's penitration? How do you guard this team single-coverage without your defender fouling out before the first timeout?

    One Heat columnist recieved a letter about the possibility of playing this team with a zone defense and forcing them to take jumpshots. Unlikely the writer said, since you can beat a zone with ball movement as the Lakers showed against the Suns in this year's playoffs and Wade and James are solid ballhandlers.

    Plus, the zone is just not very practical in the long run.

    The bottom line: Even if you are strongly rooting against the Heat to win next year, how can you do an honest assessment of their chances if you're not open to the idea that they COULD be a great team?

    I would like to see even the detractors address these five questions. 

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