The hype, the hoopla and the hyperbole. LeBron James asks in his new Nike commercial "What should I do?". Well for starters how about winning a game. Ok, that was probably a tad bit brutal but seriously, just win. The Big 3 or Miami Thrice or whatever you want to call them finally took the court for a game that really counted and the Boston Celtics not only gave them a game, they showed the Heat just how hard it will be to win a title, even for a team as talented as them. The Celtics won the game 88-80 and in the process sent a message to the Heat, the Eastern Conference and the league in general that they arent going anywhere just yet. Will Boston be this spry after 82 games? Maybe, maybe not but one thing was made clear and that is the Celtics are a vastly superior team defensively than Miami and I don't see that changing anytime soon.
Dwyane Wade is working his way back after suffering the hamstring injury and this was his first game since the preseason opener. LeBron played well and Chris Bosh was mostly forgettable. The Big 3 could only muster up 9 points in the first quarter. Not exactly what Micky Arison had envisioned when he shelled out $217 million this summer to sign Wade, Bosh and James. These guys will eventually work out the kinks and just like they wont go 82-0 they wont go 0-82 either. Its one thing to look at teams on paper and to actually watch them play and my eyes tell me the Heat not only have some issues (as do all the title contenders including my Lakers) but they may not even be the best in the East, much less the league. Like I said, they will eventually work out the kinks but they look to me like a jump shooting team. The one major thing I don't like about Miami is they don't have much going on in the low post. In blowout games that wont be a factor but in close games it will rear its ugly head. Teams that win titles typically have some sort of low post option. Boston has Kevin Garnett, Orlando has Dwight Howard. The Lakers have Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum. Somebody that can catch the ball down low and force the defense to react. LeBron to date has not developed a low post game nor does he look to go down there much, preferinginstead to attack from the top of the key. Bosh is more comfortable facing up than he is with his back to the basket and Wade is more of a slasher. To me this all adds up to a team that will have trouble executing late in close games.
Phil Jackson. Doc Rivers. Stan Van Gundy. Erik Spoelstra. One of those names just doesn't seem to belong in that group and Spoelstra would be that name. Say what you want about SVG but at least he has gotten his team to the Finals. There is a TON of pressure on the Miami Heat. They've even got their own section on ESPN called the Heat Index. Its hard to win when you're expected to win. That's why Phil Jackson's coaching record is so remarkable. Every year his team is expected to win and they mostly deliver. After the Miami/Celtics game I saw a lot of blank looks from the Miami side of things. Spoelstra said they weren't going to press the panic button just yet but the fact that he even mentioned the word 'panic' is telling. When Bosh and James arrived in Miami to join Wade, Erik Spoelstra went from coaching a mediocre borderline playoff team to a title contender overnight. He went from being a young and upcoming coach a guy who is supposed to lead this super team to a title in their first year together. As much pressure as there is on the Big 3 there's just as much if not more on Spoelstra with Pat Riley looking over his shoulder. If things get rough will he be able to maintain control of the team and LeBron in particular who would love to see Riley back on the sideline, a notion that Wade is not particularly fond of. Well, as we all know an NBA season is a marathon, not a sprint and we will soon see what all of these teams are made of and more importantly, what they are not made of.