The Miami Heat may still advance to the NBA Finals and they may just upset the San Antonio Spurs to win their second NBA Championship in a row.
But guess what? It’s time to hit the reset button in Miami.
Three summers ago LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade in South Beach to create a three-headed monster they vowed would win not one, not two, not three, not four NBA Championships.
The buzz was huge and the NBA hasn’t been the same since as stars around the league have tried to link up to match the firepower Miami has.
Miami got off to a slow start fulfilling that promise as they struggled in the NBA Finals and lost to Dallas and then they thumped Oklahoma City last year to win a championship. Even if Miami finds a way to beat San Antonio this month it’s highly likely it’s the last championship this trio wins together.
Bosh has been lauded as the most important member of the Heat but he has struggled mightily against Roy Hibbert. Hibbert has averaged 22.8 points and 10.8 rebounds during the Eastern Conference Finals while Bosh has struggled through an ankle injury to average 11.3 and 3.7 rebounds.
Even worse has been the play of Wade. It’s hard to knock on a player who is gutting it out while injured, however, it’s clear Wade’s body is no longer able to withstand the pounding of an 82-game schedule and then perform at a high level in the playoffs. Wade has averaged 24.7 points while shooting 48.9% from the field during his career, yet he his scoring dipped to 22.8 last year in the playoffs and his numbers have dipped substantially more this year to 13.6.
There were whispers around the NBA last season that Wade had lost his first step and that he was a shell of the player he used to be. He rebounded well during the regular season this year but similar questions are now starting to come back about Wade’s healthy and durability.
Things are coming to a boil in Miami as both Bosh and Wade are frustrated with how things are shaking out this year in the playoffs.
“I’m not going to make any excuses. I didn’t show up for my teammates tonight, and I’m not going to let it happen again,” a grumpy Bosh told the media. “I’m really disappointed in myself.”
“We’ve got to do a good job of making sure me and Chris (Bosh) have our opportunities to succeed throughout the game,” Wade vented. “That’s something we’re going to have to look at as a team.”
Sorry, but when you start the game shooting 2-10 from the field in the first half and you miss three shots at the rim it’s unclear what else your team can do to get you going. Wade finished the game 3-11 from the field and only scored 10 points.
Equally troubling is that James has done all the heavy lifting and he has admitted there’s not much more he can do. He has averaged 28.5 points, 7.2 rebounds and 5.5 dimes while doing a solid job locking down Paul George for most of this series.
“I mean, we can state the obvious, they’re both struggling,” James said about Wade and Bosh. “When you’re struggling, the best thing to get is a layup or a dunk. [Wade] missed a couple of them and Chris is struggling with his shot. Hurting his ankle didn’t help.”
Bosh (29), James and Wade (31) aren’t getting any younger. If Bosh and Wade are limping through the playoffs how will this get better next year or even two years from now? Neither are getting any younger and the miles from playing deep in the playoffs these last three years combined with commitments to the national team in the summer isn’t helping their bodies.
Where things fall apart for Miami is when Bosh, James and Wade don’t have clear advantages in games. Against Indiana, the Pacers have a post player in Hibbert that has had a clear advantage over Bosh while Lance Stephenson and Paul George have done solid jobs containing James and shutting down Wade.
The reality is the Pacers are a young team with its core locked up and they aren’t going anywhere. If Indiana boots Miami from the playoffs then they may be just the kind of team to prevent the Heat from reaching the NBA Finals again next season.
Due to throwing a ton of money at their star trio, Miami doesn’t have a lot of extra cap space around to sign role players. When you factor in that Mike Miller makes $6.2 million next season and Udonis Haslem will make $4.3 million, then Miami is nearly capped out with those five players alone.
If Miami were wise they would make some bold moves this summer to unload Bosh and Wade for younger talent in the hope of convincing James to stick around past next season.
If not, look for James to bolt for Cleveland or Los Angeles in the summer of 2014.