With the NBA season just on the horizon, there is nothing but praise and excitement for the new season of Miami Heat basketball. Miami will take aim at a three-peat this season, and will look to continue their dominance of the NBA.
Although everything seems well now, for a while during last years playoffs, a Miami Heat repeat did not seem very likely in several different moments during their playoff run.
In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Indiana Pacers took the Heat to a deciding Game 7, as did the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals.
Perhaps the bleakest moment from last season was when the Spurs defeated the Heat in Game 5 of the series to take a 3-2 series lead, heading back to South Beach for Games 6 & 7.
You know how the media was during the NBA Playoffs, and the same can be said about any sport: Overreacting over one game.
After Game 1, many already jumped the gun to say the Spurs are the second coming of the 2011 Dallas Mavericks team that beat Miami in the NBA Finals, during year 1 of the LeBron/Wade/Bosh era.
Then after a Miami Heat blowout in Game 2, critics jumped back on the Heat bandwagon, and said they're now back in the series, and have "figured out" San Antonio.
Game 3 was not a memorable night for Miami Heat fans, as the Spurs just utterly destroyed them, then guess what? "Series is over" and "Miami doesn't have what it takes" quotes surfaced the internet, what a surprise. Miami then answered right back in Game 4, and you know what happened the rest of the series, you get the point by now.
Ever since LeBron James took his talents to South Beach, pressure has been on him. It was on him the most during each and every playoff run he has been a part of, especially these past three years with the Heat.
If the Spurs would have won the NBA Finals, guess who would've gotten the blame?
Yeah, you guessed right....LeBron James.
Wait, that isn't fair, you might say. Well, yeah, it isn't. During the playoffs ESPN First Take's Stephen A. Smith referred to the Miami Heat's "Big 3" as instead, the "Big 1."
That 1, being LeBron James of course.
Game 1 of the Conference Finals against the Pacers, LeBron hit a game winning layup at the buzzer to win the game, a game the Heat arguably did not deserve to win. James also finished that game with a triple double, with a total of 30 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. The whole series was back and forth, as the Pacers took Game 2, Miami won Game 3, and so on.
Chris Bosh took a lot of heat throughout the series (no pun intended) for his lack of rebounding, and inability to guard Pacers center Roy Hibbert. Game 6 was not one of Bosh's best games, as he was only able to score 7 points, shooting 1 for 8 from the field and finishing with only 4 rebounds in 31 minutes of action. After the lackluster performance in Game 6, things did not get any better for Bosh in Game 7, despite Miami winning the game very comfortably. He finished with 9 points, 8 rebounds, and here comes the worst part....he shot 3-13 from the field, which is unacceptable, especially in a Game 7.
Then came the NBA Finals, and yet again, Bosh failed to step up his game to the level we all know he is capable of.
Something that has not gotten as much attention since then as I thought it would, came in the classic Game 7 between the Heat and the Spurs.
Chris Bosh did not score in Game 7.
Yeah, you read that right, he finished the game with 0 points. Most of you probably already knew that, but fortunately for Bosh, it has since been overlooked. It doesn't get much better than Game 7 of the NBA Finals, but for Chris Bosh, it was a rather forgettable night, aside from winning the NBA championship of course.
After reading that, yeah, why did LeBron get blamed for anything bad that happened to the Heat in last years playoffs?
If the Spurs would've closed out the Heat in either Game 6 or 7, we all know who most of the blame would've gone to....LeBron James. We all know what LeBron James did last season, I don't have to go into detail like I did with Chris Bosh, we remember all the triple doubles he had throughout the playoffs and all the clutch moments he had.
This time around, if the Miami Heat plan on defending their title, and going for a three-peat, they will of course need Chris Bosh to step up, but he isn't the biggest key to a championship in 2013-2014.
That would be the Miami Heat bench.
For the most part, Miami was able to keep their bench intact, aside from the departure of Mike Miller, who signed with the Memphis Grizzlies. On the positive side, Pat Riley was able to bring in 2 big name free agents, Greg Oden and Michael Beasley. They might be big names, but they will require a lot of work and patience, a big project for head coach Erik Spoelstra, and the entire Miami Heat organization.
Miami doesn't have to have both of them succeed, in fact, they just need one of them to pan out, Although it would be nice, they don't desperately need both of them to be great right away.
Greg Oden has not been able to stay healthy, and hasn't played a full season thus far in his injury plagued NBA career. Michael Beasley on the other hand, seems to be the most likely candidate to prosper right away. His issues aren't injury related, but instead just off-the-court problems.
Beasley has had problems with drugs, but if there is a locker-room environment that could help straighten him out, it's the Miami Heat. Filled with veterans such as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Ray Allen, Shane Battier, Udonis Haslem, and Juwan Howard, who was signed as a assistant coach for this year.
Miami was able to turnaround Chris "Birdman" Anderson last year, and in order to be able to three-peat this season, they will need Birdman to provide the same energy off the bench as he did last year, in addition to Michael Beasley and Greg Oden.
The Miami Heat bench is the X-factor to a three-peat this season, not LeBron James, or any of the Big 3.
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