The Miami Heat are currently not as good as they were a year before. In fact, LeBron James is the only player who has improved his performance since the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals, when the Heat were at the same position they are today. Nevertheless, the Heat know what they’ll be getting out of their Big Three, who, combined will lead the team one way or another. However, the bench, the role players were a big factor in the Heat’s successful course during the last couple of years and there is no way Miami will be able to three – peat unless the reserves step up again.
If we take a look at Miami’s playing style, the reserves don’t need to do much more than deliver what they can. Really, with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade dominating the Heat’s offense and Bosh also taking a big chunk of the offensive load, the reserves need to just hit the open three when the ball is kicked out to them and hold the Heat’s level of play high.
Miami can’t allow meltdowns when LeBron heads to the bench for a few minutes of rest. They also have to make their shots, to take some pressure off of Wade and James, draw the defensive attention. It’s been proven that one man, even if he is the best player in the world, can’t beat an entire team, especially when that team players defense like the Indiana Pacers do. The Heat are most dangerous when guys like Norris Cole, Ray Allen, James Jones,Rashard Lewis and Shane Battier hit their threes. With those shooters spreading the floor, LeBron and Wade have more room to operate inside and get some easy baskets.
On the defensive end, the Heat will need some big time performances from Shane Battier and Udonis Haslem. Battier started Game 1 and he was assigned to guard Paul George. Battier, who announced that he will retire after this season, will have to give it all on the defensive end against George but also against any potential opponent he will face in this three – peat course. Udonis Haslem, who saw very limited minutes up to now, will also have to step up. Miami’s co – captain will have to play lockdown defense against the Pacers’ big men, who can simply kill Miami inside. Chris Andersen was also a big factor for Miami last season and he is continuing to play well. He will be greatly needed against the sized Indiana Pacers.
Defense was one of the main reasons the Heat managed to win two championships in a row and up to now, they haven’t managed to keep their level as high as the past couple of seasons.
LeBron James will have to be at his best for Miami to three – peat, that’s a certainty. However, unless the role players do their job, the Heat will sooner or later fail to win their third one in a row. Up to the Eastern Conference Finals, the Heat didn’t face a great team in the postseason. Now, it’s time for the reserves to step up.