A roundup of those season previews already available on the Web:
John Hollinger, ESPN: On last season: "There have been worse teams than the 2007-08 Miami Heat, but I don't think any of them had three likely Hall of Famers in the lineup and were two years removed from a championship." And: "Miami mortgaged its future to win the title in 2006, and the bill came due last season." A comparison is made to failed institution AIG. Ouchie.
I'll summarize from here on out. Hollinger marvels that the Heat "may have the fastest perimeter trio" he's seen in Marcus Banks, Dwyane Wade and Shawn Marion, but doubts that the rest of the team can play at their tempo. Interior defense, Hollinger observes, is a major issue for perhaps the first time since the original acquisition of Alonzo Mourning, and will lead to Miami using some interesting defensive schemes.
Outlook: "The Heat are perhaps the league's hardest team to predict this year. Make one set of fairly rosy assumptions -- a healthy Wade playing at an MVP level, joined by an active Beasley scoring right out of the gate -- and this team looks like a division champion. Make another, more pessimistic set -- Wade continuing to struggle with injuries, and Beasley needing a year of adjustment -- and they're a 50-loss team." So Hollinger opts to "split the difference," projecting a 39-43 season, good for third in the Southeast and ninth in the East.
For what it's worth, commenters rush to the Heat's defense with predictions of top five and top three finishes.
NBA.com: What are you reading this for? Just go buy NBA Live '09 and simulate it yourself. Kidding. This article posits the Heat as a one-man team and suggests that Marion will "shut it down again" if he's not taken care of financially.
Fox Sports: Charley Rosen's burning question: Will the Heat be bad enough to keep Pat Riley from returning to the bench?
CNNSI: Steve Aschburner's burning question: Is Erik Spoelstra another Slick Pat in the making?
Hoopsworld: Five analysts offer their opinions, and none have the Heat as world-beaters. Predictions fall between third and last in the Southeast.
Basketbawful: "Expect a 25-game improvement and a dramatic first or second round playoff ouster."
Bleacher Report: The Heat, if Wade can stay healthy and if Beasley does put up his expected numbers, can make a playoff push and return near the top of the southeast division.
Blazer's Edge: "The storylines in
The Hoops Doctors: "I expect the Heat to challenge for a playoff spot this season."
ReclinerGM: Center is the big weakness, Chalmers will slide in perfectly next to Wade, Beasley could be Derrick Coleman or Karl Malone. Both writers have the Heat taking one of the final two playoff spots.
Bleachers Brew: Miami is projected to finish seventh in the East- a spot ahead of Orlando - and is somehow compared to the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team. Grain of salt alert: it also projects Toronto to beat out Orlando for the Atlantic Division title.
BetUS: Keep your money in that mason jar in your backyard.