ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 12: Dwyane Wade #3 and LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat sit on the bench and watch the final minutes of the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on February 12, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Nobody went into the All-Star break hotter then the Miami Heat, and all indications are that they will keep things rolling throughout the second half of the season. The Heat are getting an MVP performance from LeBron James, who is putting up some staggering numbers, especially considering all the talent around him. It may be Dwyane Wade's team, but right now LeBron James is the best player on that team.
Not to take anything away from the way that D-Wade has been playing since returning from his injuries. He shot over 50% in eleven straight games and has scored 20 or more points in fourteen of the sixteen games he has played in after missing six with an ankle sprain. You can also throw in his 24-10-10 triple double at the All-Star game if you so wish.
The other member of the Big 3 also has some steam behind him heading into the second half of the season. Chris Bosh had been going through a bit of a slump following Wade's return, but in the two games before the All-Star break, Bosh scored 20 and 25 points to go with 10 and 8 rebounds, though rebounding was never really an issue. The slump was primarily with his scoring.
Outside of the Big 3, there are plenty of other bright spots that will contribute to the Heat staying hot. Miami is in better shape at the point guard position then they have been in several years. Mario Chalmers is having a career year, shooing over 50% from the field and drilling triples left and right. He has really thrived this year playing along side LeBron and D-Wade.
Norris Cole has been one of the most consistent rookies in the NBA, and the more time that goes by the better Norris looks. He has become a steady source of points off the bench, averaging 8.7 points per game. He has scored in double figures in six of his last seven games, including a 20-point outing against Indiana. His assist consistency has been steadily increasing all year, and that should continue as well.
Another player who has seen a healthy improvement as the year has gone by is Shane Battier. You can tell he is playing with a lot more confidence lately, and it shows on the floor. His defense and hustle has been there all year, but now he is operating with a lot more poise and is scoring more steadily. He isn't over thinking anymore, now back to relying on his instinct and reflexes.
Add into the equation how well Udonis Haslem has been playing off the bench, rebounding like crazy and hitting his long jumpers, and the breath of fresh air that is a healthy Mike Miller, who rarely misses an open shot from downtown, and you have a lot of reasons to believe that the Heat are going to continue to operate at a very high level and show the NBA why they are the favorites to win an NBA Title.
This year, its not about proving the doubters wrong...its about proving the experts right.