They used the "D" word. Dynasty. Will they get there? With every championship you win, the target on your back grows larger. When you have the best player alive (by an extremely large margin) leading the team and pushing for a third championship, you're going to get everyone's A++ game every night. There can never be an off night and the Miami Heat must understand this fully.
This offseason there were no Olympics, no FIBA tournaments, no ridiculous lockouts that didn't fix a thing. This means the Heat had a full offseason to rest, to get healthy, to get mentally right, to be in peak physical condition, to be ready to win a third straight championship.
There is a lot that hinges on this season. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh can all opt out of their contracts after this season. They all say they aren't thinking about it, but we know the only way the band stays together is if they can put another ring on their fingers.
Pat Riley is a very smart man; he managed some very smart moves this off-season. He built this roster to better fight Indiana, Chicago and Brooklyn in the East and the Clippers, Houston and San Antonio in the West. He added more depth, size, scoring, rebounding and defense in three moves.
The big question everyone is asking though is whether one of those transactions is able to become healthy and stay healthy.
Head Coach: Former Miami Heat video operator Erik Spoelstra is back for another run at a championship. He brings with him Bob McAdoo, Keith Askins, Ron Rothstein, David Fizdale, Chad Kammerer, Juwan Howard and Octavio De La Grana to the bench with him.
Last Season's Record: 66-16
Player Additions: There were six teams in on Greg Oden after he was catapulted out of Portland, and the Heat won the Greg Oden Sweepstakes. They also brought back their former number two overall pick, Michael Beasley.
Best Player: LeBron James and then there is a huge gap. I'm not quite sure he's even reached the zenith of his potential yet. He's never really developed a go to move outside the fact that he's just faster and physically superior to whomever is guarding him. This allows him get to wherever he wants on the floor, when he wants to get there with little to no resistance.
James could absolutely average a triple-double for an entire season if he wanted to except winning championships is way too important to him. He'll play within the team structure to make sure the team gets the win. It's too bad mediocre talent in Cleveland held him back. Change that and we wouldn't be talking about him catching Jordan for titles, we'd be talking about him catching Russell for most championships as a player.
Worst Player: Greg Oden due to the fact that he can't walk. You're welcome, Portland.
Player due to breakthrough: In total honesty you have to be pulling for Oden to succeed here. Even if you don't like the Miami Heat, you are going to be pulling to see a healthy Greg Oden go out there play some solid minutes, seeing exactly what he can produce on a consistent basis and what type of NBA player he can be in the long term. Can he ever be healthy enough to be a starter again?
The Starters: Things are going to remain unchanged from last year. Mario Chalmers is back at point, Dwyane Wade is the shooting guard, James at small forward, Udonis Haslem is power forward and Chris Bosh will be back at center.
The Bench: Despite the loss of Mike Miller this year's bench is even deeper and even more dangerous. Norris Cole, the ageless Ray Allen and James Jones will see a lot of the minutes as the back up guards. Jones will also see some spot minutes at the small forward spot, Shane Battier and Michael Beasley will join him. Chris "Birdman" Andersen (my wife's favorite player and she wanted that to be known) will get most minutes at the back up center spot with appearances by Joel Anthony and Greg Oden.
There is hope that Rashard Lewis can see more minutes this year than he did last year, but with the addition of Beasley, we may see even less of him.
Random Seattle Connection: Both Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis are former Sonics.
Best Case Scenario for the Season: Anything less than a championship is an abject failure. The Heat go for the throat from the first tip against the Bulls to the final buzzer in game six of the NBA Finals when they hoist their third straight Larry O'Brien trophy.
Worst Case Scenario for the Season: Age catches up with both Wade and Allen, resulting in both of them missing a big chunk of the season, including the playoffs. Oden retires 15 games into the season, Beasley gets arrested again and Pat Riley pulls the trigger on a midseason blow up and takes as many first round picks for as many guys as he can possibly get, but then somehow ends up with Wiggins, Gordon and one of the Harrisons in the draft in June.
Most Likely Scenario for the Season: I am expecting extreme focus and demand for perfection from this team this year. They know that Indiana is going to be better, Chicago is going to be better, Brooklyn is going to be better and that there are going to be multiple teams out West getting better and hoping to meet them in the Finals.
Every game is going to be a tune up for the championship. That is why the roster has gone relatively unchanged. The chemistry of this team is going to be top notch and will continue to grow throughout the year. They know exactly what they have to do and they will do it. Seventy wins is not out of the question. In fact...
Projection: 70-12 and a third straight championship.
Atlanta Hawks: Peachtree Hoops
Charlotte Bobcats: Rufus on Fire
Miami Heat: Hot Hot Hoops | Sports Agent Blog
Orlando Magic: Orlando Pinstriped Post | Orlando Magic Daily
Washington Wizards: Bullets Forever