When Lebron James and Chris Bosh were introduced to the Miami Heat fans three summers ago, James promised “not one…not two…not three…not four…” NBA Championships to them. The implication being that the Heat was going to challenge teams like the 1990s Chicago Bulls and 1980s Los Angeles Lakers for ring totals. Well, that’s not going to happen. At least it won’t happen with the roster as currently constructed.
Do not confuse this for thinking the Heat have no shot to win this year’s NBA Finals. They could still win the series against the San Antonio Spurs and it would surprise no one. But after this year, they are done. How do we know this? Because this year’s team is running on fumes. They may not even make it this year. It would be no surprise to anyone if the Spurs win this series either. Don’t mistake this for a knee-jerk reaction to the hammering the Spurs put on the Heat in Game Three. That was nearly two days ago. But even after waiting to write this, I still don’t think the Heat can win any more after this year. They could still win it this year, but afterwards, not so much.
Why? Several reasons. One, Bosh is not as good as advertised. He’s too thin and soft to wreak havoc in the paint, especially in the playoffs when basketball more closely resembles rugby underneath the basket. He also can’t shoot well enough out on the perimeter to be a player who can help win multiple titles.
Another reason is that Dwayne Wade is getting old. He is no longer “The Flash” of his youth. For Wade to continue to be a force to help Miami win championships, he needs to change his game. Much like a pitcher who used to blow hitters away with a 100 MPH fastball in his youth, once he hits 30 and loses velocity, he needs to learn how to pitch. Wade needs to learn how to hit a three-pointer, pull up and hit a mid-range jumper, and pick his spots to drive to the hoop. In other words, he needs a half-court game. Right now he does not have a great one.
So this leaves James to carry the load almost by himself. Ask a Cleveland Cavaliers fan how that works. James is one of the best players, not only in today’s game, but of all-time. But even Michael Jordan needed help to win championships. It’s hard to win them all by yourself. Isn’t that why he left for Miami in the first place?
How do we know the Heat is running on fumes? Ask yourself if the Jordan-Bulls, the Magic-Lakers or the Bird-Celtics ever lost four straight road game in one playoffs on their way to multiple championships. I don’t think so. When they were dominating, they would win on the road and at home. If Miami doesn’t remedy this, they will not even win this year’s championship.
Even if Miami does win it this year, they are not going to leave the rest of the league thinking they cannot be beaten. They have been exposed on the glass. They have been exposed at the three-point line. They have been exposed on the road. Teams are going to feel they can beat this team with Wade getting another year older and Bosh not being what he was supposed to be. Ray Allen isn’t getting any younger either and neither is Udonis Haslem, Mike Miller or Shane Battier.
The Heat had better win the championship this year, because if they don’t, their “not one” prediction is going to be very wrong.