Miami Heat Season Preview: Defending Champs Should Clinch The East


It may be hard to believe, but here we are! The NBA season tips off tomorrow, and the opening marquee matchup will pit the Boston Celtics against the defending champion Miami Heat at the American Airlines Arena. And given that this offseason has seen a lot of significant changes in terms of roster personnel, the landscape has changed somewhat. New powers were formed, old ones faded away, and others got even stronger. Now that the preseason is over, it’s time to watch some meaningful basketball.

As the defending champions, Miami goes in as the alpha dog. Every other team is looking to take them down. That shouldn’t be surprising. On top of that, there’s always the chance the Heat could suffer from a little bit of championship hangover. But with the amount of talent on the team, coupled with the players added through the summer should lessen the chance of this occurring. Speaking of the talent…here is the official 15-man Miami Heat opening day roster.

Ray Allen
Joel Anthony
Shane Battier
Chris Bosh
Mario Chalmers
Norris Cole
Josh Harrellson
Terrel Harris
Udonis Haslem
LeBron James
James Jones
Rashard Lewis
Mike Miller
Dexter Pittman
Dwyane Wade

Just looking at that collection of players brings a few things to mind. First and foremost, you have three of the top players in the NBA at your disposal, in Bosh, Wade and LeBron. Each is the best or close to it at what they do. Bosh can create matchup nightmares as a newly-minted Center. Wade is as electrifying as they come in terms of speed, vision and sheer ability to score at will. And LeBron is a 4-time MVP, all-round complete player, and as many would say, the best in the world. A player whose game resembles Oscar Robertson more than Michael Jordan, the King should be set for another season averaging 25 points, 7 assists and 7 rebounds with over 50% of his shots converted. Scary numbers on their own. Scarier considering who else he’s got backing him up. Wade can easily drop over 20 points a night and provide similar numbers to LeBron, in addition to the occasional big-time block. Chris Bosh has one of the best shooting strokes for a big man today, and on top of that is a constant double-double threat. Also consider that neither player has a chip on their shoulder after tasting glory in 2012. This should set the stage for each of them to perform at a relaxed, but very effective level.

There’s also no looking past the variety of 3-point shooting options on this team. Chalmers, Miller, Battier and Jones led the way last season in that department, and with Allen and Lewis joining them, the Heat become a lot more dangerous. Now, it’s come to something of the “pick your poison” type – double on LeBron and Wade? Or defend the arc? Regardless of what they can do, teams will have an undeniably difficult time trying to cover everything the Miami Heat can throw at them. And if one player catches fire, beating the Heat becomes a much more difficult task.

Of course, the weaknesses from seasons’ past still continue to linger around Miami. Turnovers have been, and will continue to be an issue. While LeBron, Wade and a few other players are very flashy with their playmaking abilities, at times their carelessness results in turnovers. This usually leads to easy scoring opportunities for the opposition. As well, the lack of size and strength in the post is always going to be a problem. Aside from his height, Bosh cannot be considered a true low-post defender, as he lacks the body strength needed to contain a Dwight Howard or an Andrew Bynum. Finally, Miami does have a tendency to go into major droughts on the offensive end. When shots aren’t falling, they’ll try launching jump shots, which isn’t successful all the time. In some extreme cases, this can result in double-digit leads quickly evaporating. The Heat have to ensure that they play a full 48 minutes on the court with no lull periods.

Taking all of that into account, the Miami Heat are not a perfect team by any means. Yes, they have tons of talent. But they aren’t invincible – every team will have to suffer a few losses here and there. And even then, the Heat have just one objective for the regular season. And this is to clinch the #1 seed in the conference, which would up home court through the Eastern Conference playoffs. An even better goal is for Miami to secure the #1 overall seed in the NBA, which would see them snap up home court advantage through the entire duration of the playoffs. This is why I don’t have them going 73-9, nor do I set the bar at 72-10. It’s just too unrealistic. And yes, I have taken into account that the East is somewhat weaker than it was last season. Still, I have them racing in front of the pack and securing a playoff spot, and eventually the #1 seed in the East. Then, they’ll take the time to rest a few players and coast to the playoffs. With that wrapped up, here is my projected record for the Miami Heat.

Regular Season Prediction
62-20, 1st in East

A very reachable mark considering the Southeast division is as weak as it’s ever been, and the fact that Chicago will be lacking Derrick Rose for perhaps the entire season. The only true competition should come from the likes of Boston and Indiana. And while they may pose a good challenge, I still have Miami running out on top of both of them when all is said and done.

That wraps up my take on the Miami Heat’s chances for the upcoming season. It’ll be fun to be watch. And I hope you’re all ready for the ride!