Worst Case Scenarios: The Miami Heat

Let’s be clear about something before we go any further. Along with the Chicago Bulls and the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Miami Heat are the favorites to win the NBA Championship. These are the facts, and they are indisputable. But despite that fact, or maybe even because of it as we will discover later, all three of these favorites have flaws, reasons why they could very easily not win the championship in June. But as I thought about this further, the flaws for the Heat are worthy of their own post.

1: Their Bench Is Terrible.

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Somehow, and I’m not sure exactly how they did this or even if it’s ever been done, every single one of their gambles has not paid off. Gambling on Mario Chalmers being able to be this team’s Ron Harper or Kenny Smith, a steadying influence who can control the game when necessary and take the pressure off of their 2 perimeter players? Didn’t happen.

Believing that Norris Cole’s early-season good run would allow him to become the young point guard they needed to take some occasional pressure off of LeBron and Wade? Nope. Eddy Curry and Dexter Pittman providing low-post scoring and defense so that Chris Bosh can be free to do Chris Bosh things? Not even a little bit.

(Side Note: What in the world has gone on with Eddy Curry? Remember he was a schoolboy phenomenon in Chicago, and he was one of the better offensive centers in the league in NY? Man that’s a shame.)

Mike Miller and Shane Battier providing defense and outside shooting, respectively? That hasn’t happened yet.

Will it? Perhaps. But the trouble with all of this not working out is that it’s not working out in the regular season, a time where you can experiment more freely than you can in the white-hot crucible of the playoffs. Want to see if your young troika of point guards can handle crunch-time minutes without looking like they just saw their mom naked? The regular season is when you try that out.

In the postseason you need to know who you can rely upon to make shots, make plays, and play well. And that leads us into point #2.

2: LeBron and D-Wade can’t do this all themselves.

Every championship team, from the Russell Celtics through to the Mavs last year, has pieces that aren’t stars who do good things. Where is Miami’s Robert Horry, Vinnie Johnson, James Edwards? Hell where is their Dennis Johnson?

As long as the Heat have this problem with their bench, that means only one thing. That means LeBron and Wade will have to again drag this roster to an NBA finals. And, frankly, that doesn’t work. It’s not that it can’t work because LeBron and D-Wade somehow don’t have the sand to pull off the trick. It’s that it can’t work because it’s never worked.

Every single championship team has those role players. Miami learned this lesson the hard way just last year. Do the Mavs win their championship with no JJ Barea, or Jason Terry, or no Tyson Chandler?

Of course they don’t. This has been a formula as old as time itself. Simply put, you can win by running your opponents off the floor. You can win by playing suffocating defense. You can win by shooting great, and by shooting poorly. But you have never won when you have a team so completely dependent on 2 players to do everything. This is not an assault on LeBron and D-Wade. It’s a fact. Go into the comments. And then name me a time in the history of the league when 2 players, even 2 players as gifted as LeBron and D-Wade, won a championship almost entirely by themselves. This team’s supporting parts, such as they are, aren’t championship level. But there’s something else.

3: The pressure is overwhelming.

Ever since the moment The Decision happened, whether it’s fair or not, people have judged this team to a higher standard. And after they fell apart in the NBA Finals against the Mavericks, that pressure has only increased.

Now do I think they’re going to have any trouble whatsoever with the 7th seed whoever that might be? Not really. I mean they might lose a game if it’s the Knicks, and Carmelo decides he wants to do a Bernard King impersonation at Madison Square Garden.

But as we get closer to the Finals, to that same spot where LeBron melted down last year, the questions about whether or not he can do it, whether or not he has what it takes to win his 1st championship, they’re not going to be softer. People aren’t going to stop asking them. They’re only going to get louder, and get more insistent. And when the Bulls come back around, looking for revenge for last year? Make no mistake. That pressure is real and tangible. And the higher the stakes of the game, the more people are going to look to see if LeBron melts underneath that. That can’t be a sustainable environment.

Will I be right? I’m not sure. That’s the fun of the NBA playoffs. This is only a scenario, a theory. When May comes we’ll find out if I was right or wrong.

11 Responses to “Worst Case Scenarios: The Miami Heat”

  1. ch555x says:

    I’d even venture to say their key “bench player” is essentially a starter (Bosh). It’s a toss up after the 2nd Rd. as I’m sure they’ll get to the Con.Finals…(?)

    :/

  2. Temple3 says:

    Okori:

    I’m not sure what you want Mario Chalmers to do. He’s shooting 40% from 3 and 80% from the line. He’s averaging 3.5 assists and he’s not the primary ball handler. If you want to compare him to Kenny Smith, perhaps we need to find Miami’s Hakeem Olajuwon. The Heat don’t even have a Vernon Maxwell (a knock down shooter from the 2, with slasher tendencies: Wade is the reverse). Kenny Smith played a conventional 1 because of how the Rockets were constructed. The Heat are not built the same way…they can be effective with James or Wade or Chalmers running the 1. So, I don’t think his role and performance will mirror the Jet and definitely not Ron Harper.

    Defensively, Chalmers has been very good. He has a higher defensive rating He has the highest true shooting percentage of any of their Top 11 scorers, except for LeBron. He has a higher shooting percentage than his playoff competitors (Rose, Rondo, Nelson, Collison, Teague). He shoots better than all of them from 3; and leads the pack in steals.

    I’m not going to defend the rest of those bums, but I don’t see Chalmers as a weakness on their roster. In fact, I think the Heat would be better if Chalmers played more than 29 minutes…

  3. Okori Wadsworth says:

    @Temple3: Chalmers has been solid. Of the problems with this team he is the least of them.

    @Ch555X: The funny thing is if they play the Celtics. This C’s team reminds me of the last gasp of the Bird\McHale\Parish team. That team will push them as hard as they will be pushed by anyone save the Bulls. And let’s not forget this isn’t an elite road team.

  4. eric daniels says:

    The Miami Heat are the favorites to win the championship. Even if the yahoos on ESPN want to say otherwise, every team goes through lulls in the regular season especially this one being condensed into 66 games. You are bound to run into some trouble stretches and every team from the Heat, Thunder, Lakers and Celtics have run into those patches. Only the Spurs have been able to escape those droughts. But the playoffs start Saturday and it’s “big boy time, teams will be able to focus on one opponent for 7 even games and make adjustments. To me this championships is the Heat’s to lose because the other teams have negatives.

    1. Bulls – without a healthy Derek Rose slim to no chance conference finals

    2. Celtics – Too old and not deep enough to challenge Miami or Chicago

    3. OKC – Probably the most talented team in the league, not their time yet, but I see them in the finals this year

    4. Spurs – Too old, and not athletic enough to compete with either Memphis or OKC and the Lakers height will give them problems.

    5. Lakers – too discombobulated to make a serious run , but you never know about Kobe. and the ‘twin towers’ are playing well for L.A.

    6. Clippers – without Chauncey Billups to lead them, they can get to the second round before getting knocked out ,Blake Griffth needs to develop a perimeter game before I can take them seriously as threats to win a championship.

    7. Memphis – s serious dark horse, if everything breaks right they can end up in the conference final and give OKC a tough series.

    8. Indiana – They haven’t beaten a playoff team so they are still building towards being a threat.

  5. Okori Wadsworth says:

    I’ll get to those other 2 teams, Eric. Trust.

    But do me a favor: Name me the last championship team who won with a bench this bad. And a team that has a road record as bad as theirs is. It’s all bad indicators. Could they do it? Sure. But it’s not promising.

  6. Origin says:

    Whats up Okori?

    As far as the Heats road record it really isn’t bad. You are basing this record on a regular 82 game schedule. This is a 66 game schedule….the Heat have like the 4th best road record in the league.

    Only the Bulls, Spurs, OKC, Heat and Pacers have a winning records on the road in the whole freaking league.

    Also remember those bulls championship teams 1991-93 benches were straight garbage the only thing they had that the Heat don’t have is size true big men 7 footers and 6-11 big dudes coming off the bench. Those Bulls teams during their runs would go on awful scoring droughts. Look at some of the finals games against the Suns when they went 7 and 8 minutes without a basket. Thats why Phil would keep either Pippen or Jordan out there at all times with the garbage second unit. The difference was that Phil knew how to use his scrubs, had a better system for his scrubs. Half the time Spo doesn’t even know what he is doing out there.

    Another thing real quick…….outside of the Celtics in 2008 what was the last top seed in the east to go to the finals. I will give you a minute……………..the 2001 76ers.

    So in over 10 years only 2 count them 2 teams with the top seed in the East have gone to the finals. So all this talk about the Heat not making the finals please they will be there and I won’t even pull out my conspiracy card this time. Cause you know what I been saying about the Heat and how the league needs them because of this lockout.

  7. Okori Wadsworth says:

    For the record I’m not saying they will or they won’t. I’m saying if they don’t win the championship, these are going to be the reasons why.

  8. Temple3 says:

    But do me a favor: Name me the last championship team who won with a bench this bad. And a team that has a road record as bad as theirs is. It’s all bad indicators. Could they do it? Sure. But it’s not promising.

    The 2009 Los Angeles Lakers.

    That team was 23-18 on the road, for a winning percentage of 56.09.
    This Heat team is 18-14 on the road, with a winning pct. of 56.25.

    On the 2009 Lakers, Lamar Odom came off the bench, but no other bench player averaged more than 15 minutes or scored more than 5 points per game. That roster included Shannon Brown, Luke Walton, Sasha V., Jordan Farmar, Josh Powell, Adam Morrison and Didier Mbenga.

    I think it’s safe to say that the Heat have a better bench…at least on paper than this bunch.

    Also, it should go without saying that correlation is not the same thing as causality. In other words, just because two things look alike does not mean they come from the same source or that they will have the same outcome. In 2009, the team with the best road record was the Dallas Mavericks. They lost in the first round to the Spurs. The Spurs were all of 21-20 on the road that season.

    Teams do what they do when they do what they do. What they did is what they did, not necessarily what they will do or what they can do.

  9. Temple3 says:

    @ Origin: As of today’s standings, you can add the Hawks and Nuggets to the short list of teams with winning road records.

    A common thread between all of these teams, except Miami and arguably OKC, is quality depth. The Spurs, Pacers and Bulls are just deeeeep squads. Atlanta and Denver are chock full of interchangeable parts.

    The common denominator between Miami and OKC is great production at 3 positions. James/Wade/Bosh and Durant/Westbrook/Harden have been incredibly productive and have basically met the challenge of providing consistent energy and effort at home and on the road.

    (I like OKC’s depth more than Miami’s, though.)

  10. Matthew Fudge says:

    If Miami doesn’t win it all this year, it’ll never happen as long as LeBron’s there.

  11. Origin says:

    @Okori – I understand that and it wasn’t really directed to you just all the so called haters who pick at everything that the Heat do.

    As far as your weaknesses I believe that the biggest weaknesses are

    1. The coach – He still makes poor adjustments and is IMO one of the worst coaches in the league. His poor rotations and lack of making adjustments is really glaring.

    2. The GM – Riley might have created the big 3. But he did a poor job in getting big men for this team. All their centers except Curry are 6-9 or 6-10. All the team needs is two 7-1 or taller centers. They could have picked up a guy like BJ Mullen for a 2nd round pick. Or picked up a dude from the D-leaue that was a 7 footer. Bosh is a poor rebounder and defensive big man when it comes to defending the paint just like Dirk. Now he is a great team defender and very good pick and roll defender (which dirk isn’t). But the Mavs made sure to always have big men that were strong and tall to help Dirk in the paint. Then last year they gave him a great defender in Tyson to help with defense in the paint.

    3. The defensive scheme – As I said before coach Spo is is terrible at making adjustments. This team doubles down on every big man no matter how sorry or crappy he is. They blitz every pick and roll and hedge every time. That is the reason they give up so many open 3s. I understand that they have played this defense for years but Zo and Shaq are not there to protect the paint. They have a bunch of PFs playing center.

    4. Cole and Mario – I only list these guys here because they turn the ball over so much. But this has more to do with Spo. There is no reason that these guys should be running the offense. The offense should always go through Wade, Lebron and Bosh. Too many times Cole and Mario are trying to make plays and then turning the ball over because they aren’t good passers. In the Bulls offense BJ armstrong, Paxson, Tucker, Brown and etc were never required to run offense. The offense always went through Pippen and Jordan.

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