The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Will the Heat be hot enough to keep us warm

Ah yes, the dawn of another NBA season is upon us. After the most anticipated off-season in sports history, the world places its collective eyeballs on Miami Heat and its trio of superstars. They may have signed three superstars this offseason, but make no mistake about it, the hype about this team comes as a direct result of LeBron James’ offseason actions. First, there was the fashion in which LeBron signed with Miami, shamelessly taking a dump on the entire city of Cleveland. Then, King James starts running his mouth and guarantees that the trio will win 3+ championships together (he actually said more than seven, but he was obviously playing to the crowd). Finally, ‘Bron reposts some of the hate messages he has received on his Twitter account, accomplishing nothing outside of making him look as petty and unprofessional as the people he’s responding to. It’s funny, though; for all of the pressure and expectations that the acquisition of the Big 3 has put on the Heat, I don’t think they’ll even win the Eastern Conference, let alone the championship. LeBron took less money, and dragged his image through the mud, just so he could walk away empty-handed once again.

Like most basketball fans, I cleared my busy, busy schedule Tuesday night to watch the Heat take on the Celtics in the NBA season-opener. The Heat played like crap, but that’s due to a number of factors. Dwayne Wade played in his first game after sitting out virtually the whole preseason, the Big 3 can’t be expected to gel immediately anyways and key reserve Mike Miller is out until January with a broken thumb. These things will change, and there is no doubt in my mind that the Heat will start to play better as the season wears on. However, I’m not sure the Heat playing at their peak can beat the Celtics, Magic or Lakers in a seven-game series. The Heat do not shoot as well from the perimeter as any of those three teams, and that’s a concern. Miami has three guys that shoot above 39 percent from three-point range for their career: Mike Miller, James Jones and Eddie House. Very rarely will more than one of these guys be on the floor at the same time, so that means defenses only have to play one guy straight up on the perimeter, while ‘sagging-off’ the rest of the Heat. Dwayne Wade and LeBron James shoot 29 and 33 percent respectively from three-land, but they are two of the best in the game at getting to the rack. The last thing you want to do is get in a track meet, up-and-down game with the Heat, because they’ll tear you apart. Better to force them to score from the perimeter.

Another weakness of this Miami Heat team is interior toughness. Outside of Udonis Haslem, the Heat do not have a low-post defender who plays significant minutes. Zydrunas Ilgauskas was once a solid center, but he’s 35 years old with bad knees. Even if Big Z could match up well with the likes of Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, or Kevin Garnett, he can only give you about 17 minutes a game maximum. Juwan Howard and Jamaal Magloire are also in their twilight years, and Joel Anthony is undersized at center. What about Chris Bosh, the other member of the Big 3 and by far the most skilled big man on the roster? Well, it depends on which Chris Bosh shows up to play for the Heat. While there is no doubt that Bosh is an incredibly gifted offensive player, he was often criticized for his poor defense when he was with the Toronto Raptors. However, Bosh played fantastic defense during the 2008 Summer Olympics, when he helped Team USA (which James and Wade were also members of) win the gold medal. Considering that the Heat are going to try to push the tempo and wear their opponents down, I would bet that Bosh’s defense doesn’t improve much this year.

Finally, the number one reason why I think the Heat won’t win the championship is that there are other really, really good teams in the NBA this season. I mentioned the Magic, Celtics and Lakers before, and while there are many other solid teams this season, such as the Thunder, Bulls and Spurs, I can only see the former three realistically beating the Heat in a 7-game series. The Magic don’t really match-up that well with Miami, but it’s tough to discount a team with Dwight Howard and a bevy of players that can shoot lights-out from long range, including Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis and J.J. Redick. Heat have the players to defend the perimeter, so unless Dwight Howard has developed a low-post move or two, the Heat should have the edge in this one. The Boston Celtics probably match up the most evenly with the Heat; Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and KG will have their hands full with James, Wade and Bosh, but Miami’s other players will have their hands full with Rondo, Jermaine O’Neal, Shaq and Glen Davis. While the matchup is close, I think the Celtics have too many skilled big men for the Heat to handle, and I think they dominate points in the paint like they did on Tuesday. If the Heat somehow make it out of the East, which would be quite impressive considering they’re going to have to face Orlando, Boston, or both in order to get there, they’ll likely face the defending champs. The Lakers are the clear favorite in the West, and they match up as favorably against the Heat as any team. Kobe against D-Wade, that’s a wash, maybe a slight advantage for Kobe. I’ll take Pau Gasol over Chris Bosh eight days a week, and if anyone in the league can contain LeBron James, it’s Ron Artest. The rest of the Heat’s supporting cast is vastly outmatched by the likes of Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom, Derek Fisher and Matt Barnes.

In my opinion, the Lakers are a more complete version of the Heat—they have their three starting superstars in Kobe, Gasol and Artest, but they also have talented role players filling out the roster instead of 35-year-old ‘has-beens’ and younger ‘never-gonna-bes.’ The Heat can become a vastly improved team in 2011 with the right acquisitions, but that hinges on the condition that the organization and the fans don’t go all DEFCON-5 if the team doesn’t win a championship this year. Be patient, Heat fans, it will take a couple seasons. In the mean time, enjoy watching some fun basketball.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *