James’ supporting cast not as strong, Heat won’t repeat

Editor’s note: This column is written as part of a point-counterpoint. The other column, arguing the Heat will win the NBA Championship, can be found here.

July 2010, the city of Miami was introduced to the new “Big Three,” as Dwyane Wade welcomed in his new teammates LeBron James and Chris Bosh. James had recently announced that he was “taking his talents to South Beach” and Bosh had decided to play the third wheel on the NBA’s new super-team. 

At the huge introduction event, James declared the Heat would go on to win multiples championships, and I’m not talking about two or three or even seven. 

To date, the Heat have appeared in three straight NBA Finals and have captured the past two NBA titles. Although James exclaimed that the Heat would win more than just two titles four years ago, the trio might have to settle. 

The Heat very well could dominate the rest of the Eastern Conference in this year’s playoffs, but they will not be hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy for a third consecutive year. 

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    The Big Three the Heat assembled are quickly deteriorating and becoming the Big One, a situation James knows all too well. Wade, the Robin to James’ Batman, is simply getting old. At 32 years old, Wade’s knees seem like they’re closer to 50 in Wade’s 10th NBA season. Although he statistically played well in his appearances this season, Wade only played in 54 of the Heat’s 82 games this season. Wade’s season average of 19 points per game, 4.5 rebounds and 4.7 assists could be good enough to get the Heat to their fourth straight finals appearance, but it simply doesn’t seem like his knees will carry him all the way through the Finals, which are estimated to begin onJune 5. With what we’ve seen from Wade so far this season, it seems unreasonable to believe that he’ll last through the postseason. 

    Wade’s health leads to bigger problems for the Heat because without him, the Heat are lacking a second scorer to support James. Bosh, the third member of the Big Three, is only one step above a role player, averaging 16.6 points per game and 6.6 rebounds this season. There’s no doubt the Heat will need those 17 points every night in the playoffs, but it’s hard to see Bosh regularly stepping up and scoring 25 to win the Heat a playoff game.  

    With doubts about Wade’s health and Bosh’s third wheel status, the role players seem to be the Heat’s last hope to complete a three-peat, and the roster is thinner than ever. The one knock on the Heat in recent years has been their bench production, but they have seen huge moments from their bench players in past playoff runs. This year’s team no longer has Mike Miller, who hit big shots in last year’s playoffs. The Heat also don’t have Joel Anthony any longer, which gives them even less depth in the front-court, a spot where they’ve always been relatively weak. 

    The Heat came into this year’s postseason with a 13-14 record in the season’s last two months and with lingering questions about where their production will come from. It’s hard to put too much emphasis on the NBA regular season, but such a prolonged lull could harm the Heat heading into the playoffs, especially considering opponents they could face if they reach the finals again. 

    The Western Conference is stronger than ever this season. Whoever fights their way through the West will not only be battle-tested, but they’ll undoubtedly have a full head of steam and momentum as they roll into the Finals.

    The Heat won’t be able to be the first NBA team to three-peat since the early 2000s Lakers because LeBron simply can’t do it alone, which it looks like he’ll have to. We watched this movie over and over again when the four-time MVP was in Cleveland, and his worst nightmares might be resurfacing heading into this year’s playoffs. 

    Brett can be reached at [email protected] and @Blerner10.