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Miami Heat season preview time, with a little something extra for you!

You like things, right? And what do you like better than things? Free things! Well, you're in luck today my friend. The TrueHoop Network has planned for a few months now for a comprehensive, team-by-team preview of the upcoming season, featuring, among other things, each network blogger previewing their team. Well, the finishing touches are being placed on the final product, but the season is quickly approaching (about 32 hours by my watch), and the info must be dispersed as quickly as possible. That means that right here you can read my preview before the book goes to print. Stay tuned for updates about the book, which is expected very, very, very shortly, and enjoy my take on the season. Who's going Tuesday? P.S.: Special thanks to Spencer Ryan Hall of Salt City Hoops for design of the book, Kevin Arnovitz for being the point guy for all this, Henry Abbott for being the Godfather and Bret LaGree for the slammage. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Miami Heat By Matthew Bunch / Last Year: 43-39 Crowd Says: 43-ish Blogger Prediction: 43-ish

Yes We Can!

Reports of the Miami Heat’s demise this season are greatly exaggerated. Sure, their prized free-agent acquisition was re-signed by the Lakers. And the big-name forward that loves South Florida has not yet made his way via trade. But they still have something no other team has. His name is Dwyane Wade. Perhaps it’s a little too simplified. Perhaps you want to talk about a point guard who’s too young, centers who can’t separate themselves from mediocrity or a small forward who’s currently best known for winding up in drug rehabilitation -- and all those points would be right. But it’s hard to shake the feeling that Dwyane Wade (when he doesn’t play 200 games in a row) can pull any team up from mediocrity and into the playoffs. 38.6 minutes. 30.2 points. 49.1 percent shooting. Five rebounds. 7.5 assists. 2.2 steals. 1.3 blocks. That’s what Wade averaged last season. You’re going to keep that guy out of the playoffs? Good luck. Enough with the Wade worship. Just because Miami will make the playoffs (and I do believe they will make the playoffs) doesn’t mean they’re going to compete for a championship. The nature of the NBA lends itself to eliminating about 80 percent of teams from legitimate title contention before the first tip-off of the season. Miami is in that bottom 80 percent. But the good news is that, in all honesty, the team isn’t really trying this year! Allow me to rephrase that. I fully believe that every member of the Miami Heat organization is working as hard as they can to win an NBA championship in the 2009-2010 season. But everyone, inside and outside the organization, has their eyes on the prize that comes after the prize. The future of the franchise can be found in Free Agency 2010. More on that later… So that’s what to expect in a nutshell. Better than most think, but not good enough to get all the way. But everyone knows that going in. An interesting dynamic.

No You Won't

Bret LaGree: "Dwyane Wade’s great but he needs some help on the offensive end, especially in terms of getting to the free throw line. The 2008-09 Heat shot 215 fewer free throws than their opponents. Wade took 41.2 percent of Miami’s free throws. Sure, he’s the focal point of their offense but he only took 26.1 percent of the team’s field goal attempts. It’ll be hard to improve on last season’s 43 wins if they’re spotting opponents two-and-a-half points at the free throw line every night. Quentin Richardson is unlikely to make a difference in this respect."


It’s not inspiring, it’s not all that insightful but it definitely was the tweet that defined the 2009 offseason for the Miami Heat. It has to be "@gorillabeas: I told u, I’m still SupercoolBeas!!!!!!!!!" (Neither link nor account remains active). It was the tweet that put the Heat into the news this summer and Michael Beasley into rehab. It doesn’t say much about the team as it currently is, but it could have a huge impact on the future direction of the organization. Only time will tell.

On the Record

"I’m going to listen. I owe the Miami Heat that much. I’m going to listen to what they have to say and I’m going to think about it. But right now, the way I feel, I want to make sure that we’re on track to where I want us to be on track to before I sign back." It got everyone all hot and bothered, as fans began demanding Pat Riley make a move he could not possibly make. After almost two months of drama after the quote, nothing’s changed and the Riley plan to wait for next summer remains intact. Will that be able to keep Dwyane Wade around the AAA? Only time will tell.

The Almanac

Offense: 20th Defense: 11th Pace: 22nd Team Factor Strength(s): Turnovers (3rd), Turnovers Forced(4th) Team Factor Weakness(es): Free Throws (26th), Offensive Rebounding (24th), Free Throws Allowed (21st)

The Play

Four words: Get it to Wade. For results, the steal-followed-by-running-three-pointer has to be the top choice (sorry Bulls fans), but for strategy, I’d go with this. Chalmers brings the ball up, Wade comes around his back, dishes and sets a screen that’ll let Wade get in the lane with a head of steam. After that, he’s either getting his bucket or getting hit into the upper deck. Either way, Miami’s winning the game.

The Player

Miami isn’t a very "adopt-a-lesser-known-player" type of town. As a city with a majority of minorities, the scrappy white player doesn’t have the same kind of charm as it does in a city like Boston (Brian Scalabrine, I’m looking at you). If there would be one guy, I’d pick James Jones. A Miami local who attended the University of Miami, people know who he is and want to see him do well for the Heat.

If You’re Watching the Bottom Line, You’re Watching This

As mentioned before, the biggest loose end for Miami to tie up in the next 12 months is re-signing Dwyane Wade. If it doesn’t make any unexpected signings, Miami could have as few as two contracts on the books. That means two max contracts are well within reach. The expected move is for Wade and Chris Bosh. The team’s clear need is at the five, so Bosh would fit the bill. But with the money available, I wouldn’t be surprised with a surprise. But Wade is the biggest target. His importance can’t be understated. The freaking county has been nicknamed "Wade County" for God’s sakes. He may want to go to New York. He may want to go to Chicago. But if I were a bettin’ man, I’d wager that Wade stays in the MIA. Legends in the NBA tend not to change teams, especially when they’re the legend in a paradise city that’s enticing to other free agents.