Jul 29, 2012; London, United Kingdom; USA forward LeBron James (6) during the men's basketball preliminary against France during the 2012 London Olympic Games at the Basketball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
LeBron James' passing catalyzed Team USA's surge to pull away against France in the opening Olympic game Sunday. He made a spectacular bounce-pass to a streaking Kevin Durant in the opening minutes, but found players open for dunks and 3-point shots to lengthen the Team USA lead later in the game. James was especially effective at passing out of the post, which he easily did when he met Tony Parker on a switch. In the end, James dominated the game with just six shot attempts. He registered a team-high eight assists in just 25 minutes of playing time, emerging as the playmaker on a team with Chris Paul and Deron Williams.
Did the best basketball player on the planet offer a sneak peek into how he'll play with the Miami Heat this upcoming season? While it's safe to say that James will attempt more than six shots when he has "Miami" emblazoned on his jersey instead of "USA," the spacing Team USA provided with some of its lineups could certainly resemble the Heat's style of play this season.
Reigning Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler is the only true center on this team, yet only played 11 minutes. Although his absence in the first quarter allowed Tony Parker to drive into the lane with impunity, Team USA becomes such a high-octane offensive team when Kevin Love or even James plays as the de facto five. (As an aside, Chris Bosh would've added a lot to Team USA if he played this summer. He anchored Miami's defense in the 2012 Finals and provides a diverse offensive repertoire. Neither Chandler nor Love is a two-way player).
The Heat will have a two-way big man when the season begins Oct. 30, however. And although Chris Bosh will likely play less of the five in the regular season than he will in the playoffs, Miami will still use lineups with him as the pivot before the postseason. The Heat will be able to run offense similar to that of Team USA against France. James will have the ball in his hands with a few players with a few dead-eye 3-point shooters waiting for the pass. Miami did that in the Finals, but Bosh's playoff injury prevented the team from running that in other rounds. It may be Ray Allen taking the open 3 instead of Durant. It may be Rashard Lewis running the pick-and-pop instead of Love. The Heat don't have the depth that Team USA has, but they're a damn good team. As strange as this sounds, Miami's shooting guard - Dwyane Wade - was the worst shooter on the team's starting lineup in the Finals. And that was before the Heat added Allen and Lewis.
Sports fans saw great basketball Sunday morning. What should make other teams tremble is the fact that the Miami Heat have the potential to play that type of great basketball night-in, night-out.