2012/13 NBA season previews: Miami Heat
The defending champion Miami Heat and their MVP LeBron James will deservedly start the season as favourites to win the NBA title.
They’ve added some quality free agents to an already talented roster, and considering LeBron’s promise of “Not one, not two, not three, not four. . .”, a championship hangover shouldn’t be a concern either.
Three biggest questions for the Heat in 2012/13:
LeBron James had one of the greatest seasons in basketball. What does he do for an encore?
The regular season MVP. The Finals MVP. An NBA Championship. An Olympic Gold Medal.
That’s quite the year. The only other player to have accomplished that feat? Michael Jordan. That’s rarefied air, and demonstrates what LeBron was able to achieve in his dream season.
So what does the greatest basketballer on the planet do for an encore?
The scary notion for opponents is that LeBron may be even better this year. Now that he has the championship monkey off his back, the pressure will be relieved, and he may take his game to even greater levels. That’s a truly scary thought.
The way he moved into the low post in the Finals and completely dominated the game with his scoring and passing, didn’t just show maturity, it gave a glimpse of just how unstoppable he can be down low. And now that he has learnt that, what are defences going to do?
On the block, he’s too strong for small forwards, and too quick for power forwards. If you recognise that and double team him, he’s one of the best passers in the league, and will hit the open man.
Considering the Heat have added sharpshooters Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, who exactly do you double off anyway?
Perhaps a triple double average is what LeBron can do for an encore? No, seriously.
How do you rate the Heat’s off-season additions?
Since ‘The Big Three’ of LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh joined forces two years ago, the perceived weaknesses of the Heat have been point guard and low post play.
Yet, in a sign of how great LeBron is, he may have single-handily solved those two issues. Once LeBron started posting up, he orchestrated the entire offence from down low. He either beat his man one-on-one for the basket, or found open teammates spotting up for three pointers, or cutting to the hoop. Playmaking and a low post option, all in one.
He made the Heat offence virtually unstoppable, as long as his teammates made shots, which they did in the NBA Finals.
As such, this off-season, Heat maestro Pat Riley decided that the Heat didn’t need to conduct their annual search for a low post threat. In fact, they went the other way, and signed even more shooters: Ray Allen just happens to hold the record for the most three pointers in NBA history, and Rashard Lewis is no slouch from behind the arc.
Together with the slashing of Wade, the mid-range shooting of Bosh, and existing perimeter threats Shane Battier, Mike Miller and Mario Chalmers, the new recruits will ensure that the Heat’s offence – already good enough to win a title – will be even more potent this season.
And it’s all due to the sublime skills of LeBron James.
Would anything less than another championship be a failure for the Heat?
Yes. And it’s not even unfair, or too much pressure.
That’s the expectation not just from around the league, but from the Heat themselves. They have the best player in the world, they are the defending champions, and they’ve gotten better with their off-season additions.
It’s championship or bust in South Beach this season.
Miami Heat Snapshot:
- 46 wins, 20 losses
- Finished 2nd in the Eastern Conference, and 1st in the Southwest Division
- Won the NBA championship 4-1 over the Oklahoma City Thunder
Statistical leaders in 2011/12:
Points: LeBron James (27.1 ppg)
Rebounds: LeBron James (7.9 rpg)
Assists: LeBron James (6.2 apg)
Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis
Career Record: 194 wins, 118 losses
Predicted finish in 2012/13:
- 1st in the Eastern Conference
- 1st in Southwest Division
- Lose in the NBA Finals
Images via Heat – NBA.com
Ryan is an ex-representative basketballer who shot too much, and a (very) medium pace bowler. He's been with The Roar as an expert since February 2011, has written for the Seven Network and NBA Down Under, and been a regular on ABC radio. Ryan tweets from @RyanOak.
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