Can Miami Heat role players provide enough help to the Big Three?
LeBron James is for sure the best basketball player in the world at the moment. Yes Kevin Durant fans, although KD is recording a monster season, the King of the Miami Heat still lies at the top of the list when we are talking about the best player in the NBA. Chris Bosh is also performing in a very high level. He has extended his range and he has stepped up when the Heat needed him. Dwyane Wade, despite his health issues, has proven that he will be there when thing start getting more serious, that is the playoffs. But what about the rest of the team? Does Erik Spoelstra has the pieces needed, the ones that will help the team three – peat this season? Or maybe the Heat role players have become too old, too rusty and too unmotivated to deliver?
We have to admit that at least in comparison to the previous season, Miami’s bench doesn’t look that scary. Of course, the Heat are one of the most complete and deep teams in the league. However, he have seen some of the players who played a big role during Miami’s championship runs last season and the one before, playing in a much lower level.
Take Shane Battier for example. He was one of the biggest factors in the Heat’s defense both last season and the one before. On top of that, as he was used at the stretch four position, the Heat got a great advantage on the offensive end. Miami could use Battier’s lethal shooting abilities from beyond the arc to kill any opposing team that chose to defend the paint with its power forward. That gave LeBron and Wade much more open lanes to the basket or at least the option to kick out for an open Battier shot. As Battier stated just recently, he plans to retire after this season and that seems like a rational choice. The 35 – year old forward has lost his athleticism and his condition, while his shooting is not good either.
Udonis Haslem is another player who had a very big contribution to the Heat’s consecutive titles. This season, Erik Spoelstra chose to not use Haslem much, especially after he got injured. Of course, UD proved that he is ready to be a factor for Miami, when he hears number. He had a big impact in the team’s defense during a game against the Indiana Pacers a few days ago. But will he be able to contribute as the playoffs move on? Will he manage to stay at his best and will he have the energy to keep the engine going?
Ray Allen is shooting just 36.9 percent from beyond the arc, which is way below his career average. Whilst Ray – Ray is still a big factor in the Heat’s offense and despite the fact that he has managed to keep his body in a good shape, the drop in his performance is obvious and significant. The Heat won’t have such a big margin of errors this season, as they did last year. The Indiana Pacers have improved in almost any sector and the same doesn’t go for Miami. Ray Allen will have to give his 110 percent for yet another year in order for the Heat to have a chance to earn their third one in as many consecutive seasons.
The two newcomers, Michael Beasley and Greg Oden are not providing what the team expected. For Oden, this has been a memorable and historic season. The 7 – footer former No.1 pick achieved a comeback and that alone is a miracle, after what he has been through. However, the Heat didn’t bring him back just to make this miracle happen. They signed him for one reason, to help them win another ring. Up to now, although Oden has managed to stay in a relatively good shape, he hasn’t managed to emerge as a factor for Miami. Sure, he blocks some shots and he can finish close to the hoop. Nonetheless, he was owned by Roy Hibbert in the Heat’s latest game. After all, the Heat were thinking about Hibbert and the Indiana Pacers’ size inside when they inked Oden. Will Erik Spoelstra trust the team’s chances to make the NBA Finals to guys like Oden and Beasley? This will be very difficult to happen. Coach Spo, much like any other coach in the league chooses to go with the players he knows better, the ones that have proven themselves in such situations. So honestly, I don’t expect to see Oden in a situation when the game is on the line, with a few minutes left and the Heat need to score or a stop. Haslem could be the one to hear his number or even Chris Andersen, instead of Oden.
The same can go for Michael Beasley. Although there is no doubt that this guy is talented, especially on the offensive end, it will be at least weird to see Coach Erik Spoelstra throwing him on the court when it matters the most.
Guys like Rashard Lewis, Toney Douglas and James Jones might not even see any playing time other than garbage one during some games of the playoffs or unless an injury occurs. Neither of them was a factor up to now in this season.
Mario Chalmers, Chris Andersen and Norris Cole will have to step up and help the Big Three, with Ray Allen, of course, hopefully playing the role of the sixth man for Miami. The Heat’s chances for a three – peat will depend in a big level on the performance of those four role players.
As it now seems, the Heat’s role players don’t seem to have that much potential to help the team this year. What do you think, do the Heat have enough to take it all the way? Or will they run on the Pacers’ wall this year?