Poised for a Three Peat
With the first half of the ’14 NBA season in the books, the Miami Heat have once again positioned themselves favorably in the Eastern Conference. Currently, Miami sits in the two seed behind rival Indiana. The Pacers have put together a very impressive start to the season holding on to the top spot in the East by two and a half games. With the two beasts of the East posturing for position and the ever-so-important home-court advantage on the line, getting hot at the right time will be critical.
Miami has looked both dominant and shaky at times this season. The loss of Mike Miller through the amnesty clause seems to have affected Miami much more than they anticipated. Miami is a mere 9-7 without Dwyane Wade in the lineup and has called upon just about every guard on the roster to fill in for the ailing superstar. With Mike on the team, Miami had a sure-fire fill in for games Wade couldn’t give it a go. Is this a catastrophic issue? Not at all. But it is something worth mentioning without question. The Heat have not found the consistent replacement for Wade when he is not in the starting lineup. Because of this, Miami has been quietly shopping around for back-court help while they continue on this “Dwyane Wade Maintenance Program”. They’ve been linked to names such as Evan Turner and DeMar DeRozan.
Say Miami doesn’t make a move before the trade-deadline and remains status quo. Is it realistic to believe they can win their third consecutive NBA Championship? Miami’s chances at a three-peat are decent. Though this may be the deepest team the Heat have had during the “Big 3” era, it comes with some uncertainty.
The first major cause for concern is Dwyane Wade and his health. The Wade injury saga continues. How hurt is he? When will he be 100%? Will he ever be 100%? Can he still help the team even if he isn’t at full strength? Is this a maintenance program or something more? It seems as though there are more questions surrounding the superstar than answers. With the home stretch of the regular season about to commence after the all-star break, how will Dwyane Wade hold up? Wade is an integral part of the Miami Heat when he’s healthy, there’s no debating that. However, Wade will not have the luxury of taking games off in the playoffs. Which Dwyane will we see then? Will we see the Heroic Dwyane who went bananas against Indiana after having his knee drained during last year’s Eastern Conference Finals? Or will we see the apathetic, non-aggressive Dwyane? Only the Heat and Dwyane himself know the truth regarding his health. Assuming everything is going according to plan, Wade will be ready and firing on all cylinders come playoff time.
Another question mark on the roster is center Greg Oden. What are reasonable expectations for Greg Oden? How much can he contribute? Will he be able to bang down low with Roy Hibbert and David West for a full series? The Heat have done a good job easing the big man into the rotation thus far and he has responded well. But, playoff basketball is a completely different game than the regular season. And truth be told, the Heat need help winning playoff games not regular season games. His health going forward will be very important for this team. Miami’s front court is very thin as it is, if Oden can’t contribute meaningful minutes in the playoffs the Heat could be in a world of trouble.
Aside from Oden, the Heat also added Michael Beasley. Miami drafted Beasley 2nd overall in the 2008 Draft. He has journeyed around the league and has now found a home back with his original team. The Beasley experiment has been successful so far. There were some mixed feelings within Heat Nation about how a knucklehead like Beasley could mesh with this team. So far so good. He has proven to be ready when called upon even if it might not be every night. He seems to have bought into the “team first” mentality of Miami. The only problem with Beasley is the same problem Miami has with Ray Allen. Both can score and create their own offense, but, they’re both liabilities on the defensive end. Miami has done a decent job masking the deficiencies with good team defense. There is a delicate balance between wanting Beasley’s scoring and living with the defensive results. Will he be able to provide meaningful minutes in a playoff series for the Heat? Can he play adequate enough defense to even be considered for the playoff rotation? Beasley could very well be the “secret weapon” for Miami in a deep playoff series.
With all the questions surrounding this team, they remain unfazed. They are a proven winner with championship mentality and championship focus. Miami is a much different team now then when the Big 3 came together prior to the 2011 season. This team goes about their business with one goal in mind. It is that mindset and focus that will once again carry them to the promise land. Miami is poised for a Three-Peat. After a grueling seven game series against Indiana, Miami will land in the NBA Finals for the fourth consecutive time and win their third consecutive NBA Championship.