9 Reasons The Heat Are Still the Team To Beat

Recently, there’s been a lot of hate on the Heat, culminating in last night’s Finals loss to the Dallas Mavericks. Some of it was deserved, and some simply piled on because expectations were so high. Well, they have a few months to lick their wounds, get back to gelling and prove to the skeptics that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Or even 82 nights. Case in point: They made the NBA Finals and were two wins away from being crowned kings. Not bad. But many seem to need reminding as to why these guys aren’t a flash in the pan, or, even worse, a failed experiment. Take a look.

9. They Are Young
Wade is 29 years young and LeBron just 26. There’s not a whole lot of need for analysis here. Wade is at the peak of his career and LeBron is (hopefully) approaching his. Meanwhile, the Lakers age, the Mavericks age, and the Celtics really age. The young talent of the Heat just got hit with a jarring dose of experience. They principals should find this dovetailing nicely with the apex of their physical development.

In short: they’re young and good.

8. They’re in the East
East isn’t bad, it’s just not as good as the West. Consequently, Miami will have a pretty easy go of advancing in the playoffs than if they had to make the run in the more difficult and taxing west. That’s right, I’m talking about a never-developed Magic squad, the geriatric Celtics, and the quite-legit Bulls. While the best team usually wins the championship, you have to take into consideration one team’s more leisurely stroll into the Finals.
7. The Lakers Are Getting Worse, The Heat Are Getting Better
Of course, there’s no denying that the Lakers weren’t the contenders that knocked off Miami, but they were certainly the team most feared going into the playoffs. There’s a handful of reasons I toss around the complex scientific phrases ”getting worse,” and “getting better,” but none are particularly earth-shattering, but rather just stray observations. Gausol fell apart. Kobe’s getting older, but no less clutch. Kobe’s expectations of a banner team from the Lakers next season are probably a closely guarded secret. Miami’s fast, Lakers are tall. Well, “fast” seemed to give the Mavs more fits than “tall,” so don’t expect the Lakeshow to stick with last years strategy.

Meanwhile, while Miami didn’t get as far they would have liked, they gave the eventual champs perhaps one of the greatest Finals matchups in recent memory.

6. Chalmers Is Exhibiting “Big Shot” Potential
Don’t make me go into specifics. It would be like asking me to illustrate when and where I received all 73 of my gnat bites when I went camping last month. I don’t know details about him and don’t feel I need to. The guy is an offensive pest in the most complimentary sense of the term. He stepped up in the Finals, hitting half-court buzzer beaters and enough open threes to have Mavs fans scream “who does this guy think he is?” He’s not gonna star on the Heat, but his play is reminiscent of Robert Horry, who probably has more of a positive corollary of team success to his involvement than any other player in basketball history.

5. Dwayne Wade Is Still The Fastest Slasher in the League
Dwyane Wade has a few shortcomings. He pulls dives and acting jobs that would make an Italian soccer player blush. His durability ranks about halfway between Kobe’s and Tracy McGrady’s. The dude gets injured more than you would like. And he kind of acts like a big, dumb kid sometimes, and the only person that could keep him in check is another big dumb kid in LeBron James. However, he’s the fastest player down the court and perhaps the fastest one from the arc to the rim. He will be next year, and while he didn’t have many chances to prove how clutch he has been, he has demonstrated that he’s the type of superstar that raises his game in the playoffs.

4. Dwyane Wade Will Realize, Beyond Any Doubt, That He’s The Leader of This Team
Chalk the first year up to growing pains. Made all the more impressive by the fact that Chris and Dwyane and LeBron took their squad all the way to Game 6 of the NBA Finals. I would hazard a guess that most teams would consider Miami’s run more than just “character-building.”

Early in the season, BronBron explicitly said that the Heat would remain D. Wade’s team. Well, it should be pretty clear that James wasn’t just offering up lip service. LeBron hasn’t shown himself capable to be the leader of this team. While this may sound like more of a negative than a positive, the fact remains that it was the case all year, so it’s best to just make your piece with it, barring a serious behavioral departure by the King. So both parties will hone their roles both on the court and off. Both players are too nice to seriously threaten each other.

3. Erik Spoelstra Is 41
I don’t bring up his age to talk about durability or the distant future but rather to simply illustrate that the guy is really young, so don’t expect him to be firing on all cylinders just yet, especially with the myriad problems inherent to housing three superstars on a court. Now, I’m not saying he’s the best coach for this team: frankly, I think he’s far from it. But, that question is moot. As it will stand next season, Spolestra will be the coach and he will enter the season older, humbler, and wiser than he was yesterday. Which is good, because he got drastically outcoached in the Finals. To be fair though, Carlisle was coaching circles around everyone for the playoffs.

2. Just…LeBron
He certainly didn’t blow anyone away with his performance over these playoffs; rather, he just looked “reliable” and “tough.” Not the hallmarks of the Basketball Messiah. However, the old adage goes that if you see two sprinters that run the same times, though one has poor form and one has good form, you take the one with bad form, because once you train him the good form, he’ll be even faster. LeBron hasn’t shown perfect form. I’m not guaranteeing that he’ll reinvent himself a la Kobe with the post moves, but between the hell he took last summer and the hell he’s going to take starting about two hours ago, expect the pressure on him to force him to put some teeth into his game.

1. Their Problems Are Solvable
Is the ceiling on Bosh’s success too low? Would he serve the Heat better as a player for hire with another team, benefiting both Bosh and ownership better than if they’re taking one of the NBA’s top talents and shoved him into a position that was destined for no more than an 14-10-6 every night. Solid numbers, but Bosh would be able to soar much higher with a weaker team. I’m not saying it would be the C. Bosh show, but right now his two biggest opponents are perhaps the blue-chip players on his team.

Tags: Dirk Nowitzki, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Miami Heat, NBA Finals,