Heat ’10-11 Preview
by Myles Brown / @mdotbrown
I honestly don’t know where to start. It’s still hard to believe it even happened. Three months later and the heads are still talking and the ‘puters are still ‘putin, with no end in sight. Of course this could be due to the voracity of our modern news cycle, but I doubt it. Sometime later this week, one of the scant remaining NBA legends yet to voice an opinion on the matter will share his thoughts on the Miami Heat. Much debate, derision and apocryphal storytelling will ensue. He will be followed by another, and another, and we will argue all over, again and again, until there is no one left.
So if only for a moment, let’s all agree on one thing. Regardless of whether you’ve deemed this a stroke of competitive brilliance or a shameless act of collusion; whether you think it was Bron who bowed to Wade, both, or vice versa, acknowledge this much is true: These are the only things left to talk about because there is absolutely no doubt that the Heat are going to be really fucking good.
But really, how good is really fucking good? Well, that’s dependent upon a number of things that not many-if any-of us know for certain. Predictions are hard enough with having to offer them on teams that have yet to play a single regular season game together. Nonetheless, it’s that time of year and this is what we do around here, so let’s sweat the small stuff.
“All the Time Phife…”
Time and again, we watched him dribble away the shot clock in those unimaginative sets before attempting-and sometimes achieving-the impossible. Sure, he displayed otherwordly speed, power, dexterity and vision, but against the right defense, such a headstrong approach was simply the wrong answer.
Remember when we thought Mike Brown finally figured it out? That it was probably better for LeBron to play off the ball and wreak havoc from the weak side? Well, happy days are here again. Unless you’re the poor sap left to defend the baseline against him, that is.
Or you could be the mope laughing at that poor sap only to see Bron line up against you at point guard two possessions later. Put him at the one and he could be trouble the game hasn’t seen since O’Shea Jackson. Let him consistently control the tempo and exploit mismatches, there will be Showtime in Miami.
You see, the difference between LeBron James in Cleveland and Miami is the difference between the sun and space itself. No longer the center of attention, he’s now boundless; any and everywhere all at once. So watch your head.
(And to think, James’ numbers were gaudy enough when he was playing the League’s fifth-slowest pace in Cleveland, can you imagine them on what could be one of the League’s fastest teams?)
“The Other Decisions…”
Of course this can only be one of the League’s fastest teams if one of the League’s oldest benches can keep up. Boasting three of the League’s quickest players at their respective positions, it will be interesting to see how the Heat incorporate the likes of Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Juwan Howard and Jamaal Magloire. Not to mention Joell Anthony and Udonis Haslem.
Granted, these are the blue collar types who will earn their keep in the trenches of May, but they can also cost you the occasional possession and maybe a few games with slow defensive rotations, missed box outs, mishandled passes and limited offensive arsenals. It would be a shame to see such a potent team mired in a half court game to accommodate such replaceable parts.
But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, just how quick of a pace can this team play considering Bron and Wade don’t have suitable backups? Are they ever going to sit down? Mike Miller and Eddie House are dependable shooters who will certainly spread the floor, and they are just as certain to be the weak links in any defensive chain. Mario Chalmers is a solid defender, but another limited scorer. Carlos Arroyo? James Jones? How do you spell relief?
Could it be possible that Bron and Dwyane don’t have enough help?
There have been many breathless comparisons of this team to the Bulls of yesteryear, but if any are to be proven true they’ll start on the defensive end of the court, where Miami’s two headed monster could be even more fearsome.
The thought of WaBron (not as catchy as Brangelina, huh?) patrolling the passing lanes, swatting shots as weakside help and locking down anything in front of them was enough to keep Kobe Bryant in the gym for two weeks. Straight. That same thought left Vince Carter in the fetal position on the locker room floor. Gilbert Arenas grew that ghastly beard hoping they wouldn’t recognize him. Last I heard, Allen Iverson was leaving the country, just in case.
It’s the defense that will allow Miami to control the tempo, create easy scoring opportunities and demoralize opponents. The Heat could operate with defensive impunity through a series of simple substitutions. Go bigger with Ilgauskas, go quicker with Chalmers-moving Bron to the frontcourt, and go for broke with Bosh at center.
Erik Spolestra managed to squeeze some respectable defensive numbers out of the underwhelming unit he was operating with last year, it’ll be exciting to see what he does with 2/5ths of the All-Defensive First Team.
Yes, I just said exciting. Because it is. At the risk of losing my invitation to the next Haters Ball, I have to say that no matter how it was constructed, this team may be just what the League needed.
We wanted more parity, we didn’t get it. But what we did get is a team for the ages just in time to contend with not only the Lakers and the Celtics, but ourselves. This is a team that challenges practically all of our conventional thinking. On competition, leadership, strategy, history and purpose. Whether you like it or not, this team will give us a startling reminder of why we-or they, I should say-play the game.
*My prediction? 62-20. Conference Champs. See you in June, bitches.
Previous Season Previews can be found in the archive.