Our brother blog, http://dappledawndrawn.wordpress.com, has recently posted a well-thought out and declarative article stating 5 reasons why the Miami Heat will not win the NBA championship in 2011. This post has enraged me, engaged me, and ENTICED me to respond with 5 counter points to each one of his reasons. This is not meant to be personal, David Lee, only HEATed.
1. The Heat have no center.
Many bloggers have made this point when it comes to placing obstacles in Miami Thrice’s path to 8 (LeBron said it, not me) NBA Championships. Our friend Mr. Lee has made the claim that recent NBA champions have had above average Centers on their rosters (Bynum, Perkins, D-Howard). Even when the Heat won in 2006, they did so with the Big Diesel patrolling the paint. I do not underestimate the effect that a decent Center can have on a basketball team from an offensive, and more importantly defensive perspective; however, lets consider the Chicago Bulls dynasty. During the course of their dynasty and most importantly during their juggernaught years of the late ’90s, Luc Longley was their starting Center. Who? That is Mr. Longley of the career 7.2 points 4.9 rebounds averages fame. Similarily, the San Antonio Spurs during their run of multiple championships employed Centers named Nazr Mohammed and Rasho Nesterovic, aka Zo’s Summer Poose. This era of Basketball only accentuates the lack of importance a Center has (there are so few in the league that Perkins is considered a premium big man) and thus, with the Heat’s draft pick up of Dexter Pittman and already serviced Joel Anthony the Heat will be more than fine at the position.
2. Wade, Bosh and LeBron will have to modify the instincts they’ve developed in the past 7 years.
While it is true that these three kings have each had to carry the load for their team, so to speak, for their entire careers it is not instincts that are wrought from such a mindset. All three players have played together through TEAM USA, and there was not one issue that arose regarding their inability to share the basketball or work as an equal member of the team (and remember TEAM USA had 12 All-Stars, not 3). Let’s look at the Big 3 in Boston: Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce have each been the focal point of their respective teams’ offense for most of their career yet seemlessly integrated in Boston’s offense. David is right, these superstars will need to adjust from taking hard shots when it is not necessary, but like the Big 3, they can figure that out pretty quickly.
3. Lakers, Celtics and Magic
The Celtics are done. We’ve seen what D-Wade can do by himself vs Boston (nearly win 2 playoff games). We’ve seen what LeBron can do by himself (nearly win 2 playoff games) vs Boson. And you throw in CB1 to counter KG’s progressively limited offensive game, and I think you have an easy series. The Magic are a strong group but as we’ve seen for the past three years they are not built to win in the playoffs. While they have the best big man in the game (Dwight Howard) it is clear you need a frount court player to shoulder the scoring load during crunch time minutes and Jameer Nelson and Vincesanity are clearly not the men for the job.
That brings us to the Lakers, and while I will shy away from saying that it will be an easy series to win, I think we can all agree that it will be a close group of games that can swing anyway. If Ray Allen can harass Kobe to the degree he did in the 2010 Finals, there is no reason D-Wade or LeBron can be even more effective in 2011. Pau Gasol will be evenly countered with CB1 and LeBron can easily outproduce Artest AND Odom in the playoffs. From then on issues like Bynum’s health and the bench will take precedent.
And speaking about the bench, there is one ultimate truth in the playoffs and that is that bench importance is marginal at best. ALL NBA teams limit their rotation in the playoffs to 8 men. That means exactly 3 bench players will be utilized during the Playoffs. The Heat have already filled out 2 of the 3 (Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller) which if you consider their level of play, will be a POSITIVE come playoff time, certainly not a hindrance.
5. Championships are still REALLY hard to win
Let’s repeat this sentiment: Championships are REALLY hard to win. It is true, it is why Boston’s Big 3 has only won one championship, and why Kobe and Shaq’s Lakers didn’t win every championship they played together in. Certainly the Lakers are a pretty young team that will be formidable for the coming years. However; at same point lucky bounces have to give way to desire. When the Heat won in 2006, any lucky bounces were dictated by the will and desire of Dwayane Wade.
To that effect, look at Chris Bosh. He’s been deprived of advancing past the first round of the playoffs for his entire career. He’s had to listen to his best friends talk about the thrills of Championship chasing yet finally has the opportunity to chase his own. Look at Dwayane Wade now. What’s the last image South Florida had him? Screaming at his hand in raw emotion during the playoffs when he was etching his name in Playoff lore.. a lore that ends in the first round of the playoffs yet again. You don’t think he wants something more? Now LeBron James. Look into his eyes at any given point during any interview or welcome ceremony he’s been in. This is a man who has sacrificed EVERYTHING to statiate his desire and to enforce his will.
Am I saying I expect to win 8 consecutive championships? Not really. But I can’t believe any of these men will let a “lucky bounce” get in the way of a Championship.