Miami Heat stack up on talent to win championship

By Justin Cohen

Contributing Writer

Last season, the Miami Heat finished in the middle of the pack in the playoff landscape of the Eastern Conference. The talent of a young Heat squad, even with Dwayne Wade, did not make it past the first round, losing in five games to the eventual Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics.

The Heat made major changes to their roster in order to free up salary cap space by releasing or trading seven of their 15 players. A free agent class headed by LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade, Paul Pierce, Amar’e Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer, Joe Johnson and many others was more than enough for the Heat to risk it all this past summer.

After spending $330 million, they re-signed Dwayne Wade and added Chris Bosh and LeBron James.

As soon as James announced his intention to play for the Heat, debates instantly began about the Heat’s status in the NBA and about the ability of three of the best players in the league to play together on one team.

The Heat refilled their roster with additional players like Mike Miller, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Eddie House, as well as drafting Dexter Pittman out of the University of Texas. With the big three looking toward next June and the prospects of having a successful 2010 season looking very strong, the Heat were poised to take the league by storm.

Five games into the season the Heat sit on a 4-1 record with the big three all beginning to work together for their common goal of a championship. The Heat were confident in their ability to win, despite a minor setback in Wade’s preseason injury. The experts began to say that without Wade, the big three would take a while to develop chemistry on the court, and because of their new roster, much of the pressure would fall to the role players on the team.

After the Heat dropped the season opener to the Celtics, critics said the Heat had no dominant big men since Bosh is more of an offensive player. They said the big three will always have to control the ball with Mike Miller hurt and the role players not being suited for the responsibility.

Amid all of the talk, the big three are putting up solid numbers: all three have an average of about five rebounds per game, while Lebron and Wade are both adding 20 points and four assists per game. Amazingly, the big three is only shooting a combined 44 percent from the field. But the Heat are still winning thanks to their defense which is ranked number one in most defensive categories in the league, allowing only 80 points per game.

The Heat will have a serious challenge in front of them when they face the Los Angeles Lakers, who maintained almost their entire roster from last year’s championship team.

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