There are two reasons I feel that the Miami Heat will capture this year’s NBA title: 1.) LeBron James and 2.) The ability of the Miami Heat to play small ball because of LeBron James. Let’s be clear, LeBron James is the BEST player in the NBA, and it’s by a wide margin. He is the best player in the NBA for a vast amount of reasons, the largest being the fact that he gives the Miami Heat coaching staff supreme lineup flexibility. LeBron James is the Queen on the chess board, he is dangerous from every spot on the floor and the closer he gets to the rim, the more devastating he can be. The fact that LeBron is posting up more and basically playing power forward for the Heat is allowing Miami to operate at their optimum level. How many times have you watched your favorite team play and wish they could put their 5 best players out there on the court but they can’t because of the position they play? Well Miami doesn’t have that problem. Their best lineup is LeBron James, Dwayne Wade , Chris Bosh, Big wing player X(Mike Miller or Shane Battier) and Smaller wing player Y(Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole or Ray Allen. This has terrified almost every single team in the league into making acquisitions and tinkering with different lineups trying to find ways to matchup with this small ball lineup.
May 28th 2009 is the date the truly opened my eyes to what LeBron James was going to eventually turn into, a Power Forward. On that date, LeBron James took apart the Orlando Magic in game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, but it was the way he did it that truly woke me up to his true potential. He posted up at the free throw line, both elbows and even the low block at times and the Orlando Magic defense didn’t have an answer. He had 37 points, 14 rebounds and 12 Assists, 6 of those assists were to Mo Williams for wide open 3’s. This game was a preview to the year that LeBron James had in the 2011-2012 season, where he would spend the majority of his time playing Power Forward during large portions of the game. There isn’t a Power Forward the LeBron James can’t guard, and there isn’t a Power Forward that can guard Lebron, herein lays the conundrum of trying to matchup with the Miami Heat. Miami’s chief rival, the Boston Celtics brought back Jeff Green($36 million dollars over 4 years) in order to play the “4”, and try to combat the Heat’s small ball lineup. The Knicks are going to try to play Carmelo Anthony at the Power Forward at times to try to matchup with LeBron, and the Philadelphia 76ers brought in 7-1, 292 pound monster Andrew Bynum with the thought of playing the super athletic “stretch 4” Thaddeus Young next to Bynum is order to matchup with James. Even the Brooklyn Nets traded for Gerald Wallace to pair with Brook Lopez(although they had designs on Dwight Howard) to guard Lebron in Crunch time, while playing Joe Johnson at Small Forward and Marshon Brooks at Shooting guard, or letting CJ Watson bring up the ball and sliding Deron Williams to the shooting guard slot. The Heat have single handedly changed the way the other 14 teams in the Eastern Conference have thought about and constructed their rosters.
The Miami Heat seemed to have figured out the LeBron/Wade chemistry issues, although the dynamic will always be a little awkward because of their style of play, but it is clear now that LeBron is the alpha dog and Wade is the beta male on this squad. Dwayne Wade said, “He purposely took a step back, so LeBron could take a step forward”. PLEASE *Stephen A Smith Voice*. Dwayne Wade will turn 31 later on this year, and has had a myriad of serious injuries over the years and if history is correct Shooting guards fall off precipitously after the age of 30. As a 6-4 rim attacking Guard with a shaky perimeter jumper, who depends GREATLY on his athleticism, you have to worry a little bit about Dwayne wade going forward. What you don’t have to worry about is how the Miami Heat’s supporting cast fits around their two mega stars. Chris Bosh is the perfect complement to Wade and James because he can score inside and out, plays hard on defense, defers when necessary, plays smart, plays hard and is a very cerebral basketball player. Mike Miller & Shane Battier are great fits, when healthy, because they are big small forwards, they are both rugged physical players, can make open 3’s and most importantly, they play within themselves. The only problem with these two players is that as an opposing team you can hide your weak defenders by having them guard Miller or Battier, or if you’re a team like the Lakers and you want Ron Artest to guard LeBron James, you can simply stick Pau Gasol on Shane Battier and not have to worry about Battier being able to exploit that matchup. The Key to Miami going from being a great team to a full-fledged juggernaut will be the ability of their backcourt role players Mario Chalmers, Ray Allen and Norris Cole. Chalmers can defend and shoot the three, but will he allow the “disease of more” fester in his psyche when people start whispering in his ear that he should be getting more credit? Can the greatest shooter of all time Ray Allen be able to fulfill his role as dead eye shooter? He has to be able to stay healthy and accept the fact that he isn’t going to have any plays run for him, but I see Ray and LeBron having great synergy together because of Lebron’s vision and willingness to pass. Norris Cole is the wild card, because he has the ability to be a hounding, Erick Bledsoe type defender, and he also has the ability to create his own shot and finish at the rim. There will be games this year where he will be able to carry the second-unit with his scoring ability.
There are so many reasons why the Miami Heat will have a great season, but the biggest reason is they have that MONSTER LeBron James, who is the best and most versatile player in the league. LeBron will go down in history as the best Small Forward of all time and as the most versatile player in NBA history. I feel as though this season will be a true renaissance season for LeBron James, where he will be playing stress free and will win another NBA Championship. I think Dwayne Wade will take a step back, but it won’t matter because LeBron James is THAT good. Bosh will be interesting to watch all year because of his move to the center position in the Miami Heat’s starting lineup. There are so many things to watch for with his team, I know I will be, will you?