The Miami Heat Believe They Are Still Elite


Editor’s Note: This post as been updated since it originally published.

When LeBron James left, so did much of the media attention surrounding the Miami Heat. ESPN and the rest of the sports media world gave so much media attention to this team that it was dubbed The Heatles. As the South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Ira Winderman points out, that has already changed.

"Wade spoke after Saturday’s practice ended with a media contingent sparse by last season’s standards, including no presence from ESPN, which practically reinvented its NBA coverage standards with the formation of the Big Three in the 2010 offseason."

Without James or the media attention, the Heat are being counted out as contenders in the Eastern Conference. Sure, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls are your clear favorites, but it isn’t as if the Heat are the 76ers.

The Heat will certainly miss the best player in the NBA, but here are a few things they will be better at.

More from Heat History

  • Defense — The Heat mailed it in last season on defense, but with Deng and a team reenergized and wanting to prove itself, this side will improve
  • Ball Movement — By necessity. This team can’t rely on giving the ball to LeBron James anymore.
  • Chris Bosh — He will have an opportunity to be The Man. We will see more production from him.
  • Horns — This formation will be better with the addition of Josh McRoberts (as I detailed more here) In general, Miami’s spacing can still improve.

Again, that doesn’t make the Heat better. Losing the greatest singular player in the NBA will make this team worse. However, the Eastern Conference isn’t exactly a daunting one, and Miami still has an opportunity to compete.

According to the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson, Wade still thinks Miami is the top dog in the East. Bosh, however, gives it a bit more thought.

"Who’s the Eastern Conference favorite? “The Heat,” he responded.Though he said he would put Chicago “ahead of the pack” in the East, Bosh also said he believes the Heat is as good as any team in the East — “We’re not better, but we’re as good.” It irks him when people refer to the Heat as a middle of the pack team.“I don’t like that. It gives you a lot of motivation. Middle of the pack. My thing is, ‘Who’s supposed to be better?’ That’s the question I ask. We are trying to be one of the elite teams in this league. You don’t want to come from going to the Finals four years in a row to being the fifth, fourth seed. We want to be better than that.”"

A lot of people are counting out this Heat team, but they still have the most playoff experience of any team in the Eastern Conference, and that counts for something. Just ask the Spurs.

They also pose a unique matchup issue to many teams, given their unique pace and space system predicated on Bosh. That will only get more spacious with the addition of Josh McRoberts. We saw last season how a team running this system could make waves in the playoffs when the Hawks almost beat the Pacers in the playoffs last season.

This team’s success will mostly rely on its health. If healthy going into the playoffs (mainly Wade and Danny Granger), this team can still pose as a major competitor. Maybe this team doesn’t finish with one of the two best records in the East during the regular season, but don’t count them out when the games that matter are upon us.

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