Thursday, October 7, 2010

What to Make of Heat Pre-Launch

October 7, 2010

The start of the Miami Heat's preseason could have not come at a better time for local sports fans. It was both an escape and change of pace for those DolFans that witnessed Monday night's nationally-televised embarrassment at the hands of the New England Patriots. And the baseball postseason is beginning without our beloved Florida Marlins. Thus, instead of focusing on a team whose immediate future is in limbo, fans have the chance to focus on a star-studded squad with instant championship potential.

Both local and national attention shifted toward the revamped Heat team for what usually is considered a meaningless exhibition game. But this game had more to showcase than just second-unit and bench warming players off the Heat and Detroit Pistons rosters. This game boasted the first glimpses of what the new all-star trio of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh had to offer.

That's the obvious part. So, what was so special about this game beyond the big three?

The fact that Miami won was a non-factor, but the game itself enlightened and forecasted fans on what is to come.

Beyond Wade

Take this into consideration: Wade's early exit with a tweaked hamstring portrayed that the Heat could seamlessly transition into a Wade-less system with ease and fluidity. That's not to say that Miami doesn't need Wade to win a championship, but it is to say that they can fare well in the instance that he misses time. Simply put, the Heat can do fine (at least in a short-term stretch of games) with two all-stars instead of three. Fans will just have to "sacrifice" and settle for only two-thirds of their riches (sense the sarcasm?).

The LeBron We All Know  

On that note, LeBron took the helm of the play-making role in Wade's absence and performed beautifully. In his debut, James revealed all phases of his game to the raucous home crowd. LeBron the passer, LeBron the scorer, LeBron the rebounder and LeBron the defender all emerged in James' 27 minutes of play Tuesday night. Just take a look at his stat sheet: 18 points, three rebounds, four assists, two blocks and one steal. And that's a modest rendition of his typical all-around game. James averaged 29.7 points, 8.6 assists, 7.3 rebounds, 1.6 steals and one block just last season. At least we know he's not far off from the norm and can expect more of the same this season.

Wide Open Supporting Cast  

With all the attention on James (and to some extent Bosh), the Heat supporting cast truly understood the term "wide open shots." Mario Chalmers, Mike Miller, James Jones and a few other role players benefited from James' presence. Chalmers and Miller scombined for 3-of-7 from three-point range, which is above average but still low considering their circumstances. Whether it was rust or the sheer shock of how open they were that caused Miami's sharp shooters from making more threes, the fact remains that there is only room for improvement. You can only miss so many shots when you have all day and no defender in sight.

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