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Miami Heat Preview - Crazy From The Heat

mia.gifMiami Heat - Crazy From The Heat

Previous Team Record: 44-38, 1st in Southeast Division

Key Losses: James Posey (Better than average defender), Eddie Jones (veteran swingman), Jason Kapono (league leading 3pt shooter), and Gary Payton (skilled veteran)

Key Additions: Smush Parker (One of only 4 NBA players to average 110 3ptr’s, and 110 steals over the last 3 seasons - Along with Kobe Bryant, Gilbert Arenas, and Jason Kidd) - Penny Hardaway (Skilled veteran), and Daequan Cook (Talented youngster out of Ohio St.)

Significant Offseason Moves: Unfortunately there were no major moves this offseason for the Miami Heat that were positive. After several attempts to upgrade at the 1 guard position, the player the team settled on was ‘Smush’ Parker. Not that ‘Smush’ isn’t talented, but compared to the likes of Mo Williams, and a few others who were in the hunt, this move was rather minimal. After hearing the Heat’s ‘brass’ state early in the summer that they would open up their wallets to acquire some well needed talent, it appeared that they finally understood the agony of Heat fans after allowing a very aged team to get swept in the first round. After all the talk, in the end, Miami still never got the ‘point’.

Team’s Biggest Strength: The biggest strength of this current 2007-2008 Miami Heat roster is the main nucleus of Shaquille O’Neal and Dwyane Wade, along with a very solid supporting cast of seasoned veterans in point guard Jason Williams, power forward Udonis Haslem, and backup center Alonzo Mourning.

This is the core group that gave Miami Heat fans their first ever NBA Championship just two years ago and the low point of enduring a first round sweep last year at the hands of the Chicago Bulls will reinforce more pride from this veteran group than most other NBA teams may know how to deal with. Health is the key. Many consider Miami a group of has-beens but when healthy, I’ll take this core group over Cleveland, Boston, or any other group in the Eastern Conference. Many fail to realize but last years squad fell victim to a team who’s youth was able to out run Miami, but seldom do those type of teams make it to the Finals and actually win. Just ask Phoenix.

 

With Shaquille O’Neal, there’s not a better half court squad in the league and if these guys can stay healthy and balance these vets with a youth infused shot in the arm, things could get real interesting real quick. Shaquille O’Neal is stated to be in the best season opening shape he’s been in since he’s been a member with the team, and point guard Jason Williams is said to be completely healthy. If the Miami Heat can get high energy and effort from this core group of players, the remaining role players will definitely be the proverbial ‘cherry’ on top .

Teams Biggest Weaknesses: The biggest strength of this team could develop into it’s biggest weakness. It’s always good to go to battle in the NBA with a group of veterans who know how to elevate their game in the ‘eleventh hour’, but last year we saw that vet group suffer at the hands of injury from years and years of wear and tear. The knees of Jason Williams and Shaquille O’Neal, the conditioning of Antione Walker, etc. This veteran group is gonna have to shoulder the load of a very thin Forward position with the departures of swingmen Eddie Jones, James Posey, and Jason Kapono. That group of seasoned vets - who were also among the more durable vets on the team at the time - are now replaced with the somewhat untested Dorrell Wright, the variably inconsistent Smush Parker, and an aged, yet high basketball IQ sporting ‘Penny’ Hardaway. Hopefully the Miami Heat can get their bargains worth from this veteran core before the sun sets on what has been a roller-coaster run so far.

Desired Team Goals: The desired goal for the Miami Heat would be to complete the season with at least 55 wins or better. When you consider the fact that Shaq (30+ gms), Wade (30+ gms), Williams (20+ gms), and even head coach Pat Riley (20+ gms), missed considerable time and the team still managed to win the division, there’s no way that any true goal for the team should fall below an additional 10+ wins compared to last season. Last years record of 44-38 was alot better than it could have been under the circumstances but this year, if health prevails, I envision the Miami Heat putting their ’stamp’ back on the NBA, reestablishing themselves once again as formidable contenders.

‘Man On A Mission’: The man on the Miami Heat’s roster that I expect to have a better statistical season than most would have ever predicted is Udonis Haslem. Word around the Heat camp is that he spent much of the summer polishing up an already serviceable jumpshot, and hints from Pat Riley in the preliminary rounds of the preseason seem to suggest that he will be a much larger part of the teams offense this season, stopping teams from being able to double up on Shaq and Wade. Seasons in the past we’ve seen Haslem’s jump shot at work, but coupled with a feverish passion to snatch loose balls and defend, a polished jump shot and a better shot selection makes him one of the most dangerous players on the court. Look for Pat Riley to exploit that possibility against team opponents.

6th Man: If there’s one man on the team flying under the radar that I expect to make a splash, it’s the newly acquired Brian Chase. His story is one that most journeymen in the NBDL circuit would die for. Discovered totally by accident by Shaquille O’Neal, this ‘diamond in the rough’ has the type of hunger-for-more that allows a man to literally will his way into success. He’s still somewhat a long shot to make the team, but if he does, this is one name Heat fans had better get used to. In a very ‘Eddie House’ type fashion, this little guy has great hustle, and ‘big’ game.