Mark it down, you heard it on Opposing Views first: The Miami Heat will not win an NBA championship in the 2010-11 season.
Sorry, Heat fans.
This so-called "super team" of two players who couldn’t handle the pressure on their own, and one player who beat the hapless Dallas Mavericks to win his chip, will not pass "Go." They will not collect $200.
Instead, they will ultimately lose in the NBA Finals, but they'll look cool doing it.
LeBron James’ decision to “take his talents to South Beach” was the right move, and eventually it will pay off. Just not yet.
First of all, the one question that always seems to be asked and never answered is: Who will take the last shot?
People mistake this group with the “Big Three” Boston Celtics. On the Celtics, everyone had a clearly defined role with the game on the line. Ray Allen was the deadly three-point specialist. Paul Pierce was the clutch slasher with a pull-back jumper. Kevin Garnett was a waste of space in the middle scared to take the final shot.
On this team, the roles are not nearly as clear. Wade and James are both players who are at their best when they’re working their magic in the lane. James drives to the basket like an unstoppable running back, Wade slashes like…a slasher. So essentially, you have two people with the exact same late-game talents, who don't fill out each other's weaknesses. Make no mistake about it, Bosh will do an adequate Garnett impression of standing there not asking for the ball, but who will be the shooter?
I know, I know, they agreed to a deal with Mike Miller. He’ll be their designated three-point guru, right? So on a team of Wade, James and Bosh, Mike Miller is the guy you’re going to have taking the last shot?
The other big question mark for this team is defense. James has a nifty way of portraying himself as a great defensive talent with amazing high-flying blocks, but he really isn’t that great of a defender. Rather, he generally relies on manning up on slower, weaker opponents. However, when he gets an assignment who has some size, speed or skill, the player generally blows right past him. And Bosh is even worse. While the guy can block a shot or two by the basket, he’s a below average man-to-man defender who will get lit up by Pau Gasol in the NBA Finals, and every other talented power forward in the game before that.
Further, the Heat still have a giant hole at point guard. After an unsuccessful attempt to recruit savvy veteran, Derek Fisher, they now need to find a cheap alternative for arguably the most important position on the team. If they can’t find one, though, they will have to rely on James playing a Magic-ish point-forward role for the squad, and no one can be sure how that will turn out.
People keep using the “they played on Team USA” comment a lot when discussing the “Three Kings,” conveniently forgetting that Wade came off the bench for that team.
The pressure will be on James this season, though. Make no mistake about it. No matter how great his numbers are, or how many regular season wins this team manages to accumulate, the only thing that will define this group at the end of the year is whether or not they will be hosting a parade. If the (and this is Dan Gilbert’s description not mine) “self-appointed former king” does not deliver a title to Miami, there will be a bigger crusade than ever before to label him a no-ring circus act.
Keep in mind, by the way, there is far less pressure on Wade and Bosh to deliver a title. Wade already has one ring to his name, and anything beyond that would just propel him in the discussion of best player in the game. Bosh always has been, and always will be, a bad imitation of Garnett. Similar talent, less the drive and hunger, and with even less (apparently it’s possible) ability to be clutch.
So please, Heat fans, calm down. You guys won the lottery, but you won’t get the payoff in one lump sum championship in 2010-11. “The Decision” did one thing and one thing only, it secured the Heat a spot in the NBA Finals next year.
A championship, though, that’s a few years away.