Time to Break Up the Miami HEAT?
There has always been a lot of criticism thrown in the direction of the Miami HEAT, ever since they put their “Big Three” together prior to last season. Some of it is more than understandable with the way they it went about, such as LeBron James airing “The Decision” on television and Miami’s over-the-top show to introduce their new-look squad. You know, when James stated that the trio would lead the team to “not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven” championships.
The HEAT were immediately a team with a target on their backs, not only because of the talent on the new-look roster, but also because other players and teams across the league wanted to show them that it was not that easy. They were not going to allow Miami to “buy” a championship while other teams tried to build teams more conventional ways. It seemed to be the rest of the NBA versus Miami, and the HEAT welcomed the challenge. They fought through the adversity of, seemingly, the world rooting against them to advance through the Eastern Conference last year, only to lose to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals.
This year, there would be no excuses. The HEAT made additions to their team to improve their depth and steamrolled through the regular season again, finishing only behind the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference standings. Although there would be excuses from Miami throughout the year, the second last year’s MVP Derrick Rose was sidelined for the remainder of the year—and a good majority of next season—it was almost inconceivable that Miami wouldn’t, at the very least, represent the Eastern Conference in the Finals again. Some were even going so far as to suggest the HEAT could possibly sweep their way to the championship, although no team had ever done so before.
Fast forward about a week and a half into the future and Miami trails their series with the Indiana Pacers two games to one with the next game on the Pacers’ court. Miami is playing without Chris Bosh, who is lost for this series, if not longer, due to an abdominal strain, and the HEAT are having a difficult time adjusting to his absence despite having the current season’s Most Valuable Player in LeBron James as well as the player named the Most Valuable Player of the 2006 NBA Finals in Dwyane Wade. While the Pacers haven’t buried the HEAT yet, Miami is on the ropes and that has triggered many conversations as to whether or not they should look to break up the “Big Three.”
Whether or not the HEAT lose their series with the Pacers or find a way to fight through and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, this series has shown two things. First, they are vulnerable for any number of reasons. It could finally be the weight of expectations and the amount of criticism of their every move coming from media and fans or it could be that they’re simply facing a team in the Pacers who are more of a singular unit, playing for each other at all times. Second, and possibly more important to their future decisions, Bosh is missed by the Miami HEAT and does not receive enough credit for the skills he brings to their attack. Bosh goes about his business quietly—or as quietly as one can with the amount of media coverage in Miami—and has found his true niche in the NBA, a dominating second or third option on a championship-contending team.
Unless they win the title this year, the conversations will continue as to whether or not to break up the HEAT. In a somewhat surprising turn of events recently, many are suggesting that should Pat Riley decide to trade away one of his big pieces, the one who would probably be on the move would be Wade. After being the golden child of South Beach for years, the thoughts of the team’s fans are shifting somewhat and Wade finds himself facing more criticism than ever during his NBA career. If having to choose between James and Wade, it is clear the HEAT would retain the now three-time Most Valuable Player, who is also two years Wade’s junior. Let’s also not forget about the length of time it seems to take Wade to return from injury.
Which is another reason why Sunday’s game in Indiana against the Pacers is huge for the HEAT. Should James, Wade and the rest of the team lose this game, the heat will be on at an even more mind-blowing level, as they would be staring directly at the possibility of losing in the second round of the playoffs. Pat Riley is already going to have many issues to address with his team, but should they lose in the second round when they entered the season and playoffs as the favorites to win the 2011-12 NBA championship, it may be time to break them up.
Nearly every team would be interested in Wade should the team begin to shop him, and Miami could essentially sit back and let competing offers roll in. Without question, this team has been one of the all-time great regular season teams when it comes to winning games and playing an exciting brand of basketball, but by trading Wade, they could address multiple weaknesses in their team. This would take the HEAT from a great regular season team to one that has the opportunity to win those multiple championships James bragged about when he was introduced in Miami.
Of course, it’s unlikely that any of this will happen should the HEAT win their series against the Pacers. It’s up to the players, so it will be intriguing to see what they choose.