NBA

Worst-case scenario for Miami Heat

Clashing egos and injuries are among the things that could derail Miami.
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Charley Rosen

Charley Rosen is FOXSports.com's NBA analyst and author of 17 sports books, the current ones being Bullpen Diaries: Mariano Rivera, Bronx Dreams, Pinstripe Legends, and the Future of the New York Yankees and Crazy Basketball: A Life In and Out of Bounds.

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There’s no doubt that the Heat will usurp the defending champion Lakers if the ball bounces Miami’s way all throughout the season. But on the flip side of the equation, not every situation will favor Miami.

Best and worst

The Miami Heat's season could be stupendous or disastrous. Either way it will be historic. Charley Rosen imagines a best-case scenario and worst-case scenario.

Let’s pretend, then, that everything that can go wrong, does.

Injuries, of course, are the most likely impediment to a season full of nothing but highlights. Dwyane Wade suffered several big hurts a few years back, and while his hell-bent-for-leather style of play is part of his brilliance it also makes him vulnerable.

Chris Bosh had a mysterious and slow-healing injury at the end of last season, and his leansome frame constantly makes him susceptible to being slam-banged to the floor, to the bench and to the injured list.

LeBron James seems indestructible, but there was a problem with his shoulder last spring.

Speaking of LBJ, he’s already stated that he’s determined to keep on playing “his” game and is not willing to defer to Wade — which means that the King will continue to dominate the ball and make pawns of his teammates. This me-first-and-always attitude could easily destroy team chemistry and doom Miami’s championship hopes.

Bosh has no inside presence at either end of the game, but could get upset over his limited shot opportunities.

The point guard slot could also be troublesome. Carlos Arroyo can’t run, shoot or defend, while Mario Chalmers is incapable of running an offense.

The bench is short, with Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem the only dependable subs.

If the various talents of Joel Anthony (springy defense), Zydrunas Ilgauskas (size and mid-range shooting) and Jamaal Magliore (physical aggression) were combined into one body, then the Heat would be well-fortified in the middle. But Anthony can’t score with a pencil, Z can’t defend his own shadow and Magliore (like Anthony) can’t defend without fouling.

POLL

  • The Miami Heat season will be ...
    • A wild success
    • A train wreck
    • Somewhere in between

Since Haslem is the only big man who can play effective defense and stay within the rules of combat, he could be pressed into duty at the 5-spot — a move that would soon wear him to a nub.

The shortcomings at the point and at center seem minor now while the basketball universe is awed by Miami’s three-ring circus. But these flaws could easily become fatal.

Rebounding could also be problematic. As could perimeter shooting. Indeed, defenses could decide to clog the middle to keep LBJ and D-Wade from getting to the rim, thereby forcing the Heat to live or (probably) die on the basis of long-distance shots by James and Wade — both profoundly unreliable shooters.

The worst-case scenario could also overflow the boundaries of the court itself. Young Erik Spoelstra could prove incapable of controlling his high-profile players to the point where not even the intervention of Pat Riley could get everybody on the same page.

LeBron, Wade and Bosh could be much more interested in being international celebrities than in being basketball players.

With the negative fallout from The Decision, as well as LBJ showing the race card, LeBron might not be able to handle being so universally unloved.

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In truth, no matter how badly fate turns against them (or they turn against themselves), the Heat will still be able to beat Orlando in a playoff series.

But the Celtics could easily douse Miami’s flame because Boston plays the most coordinated and the most physical defense in the NBA ... and because Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo will not be intimidated by the King and his court. Plus, Boston’s offense is unselfish and resourceful — more so than Miami’s could wind up being. Moreover, imagine how pumped Shaq would be to play Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals!

Should a rash of injuries plague the Celtics in late May and Miami escapes into the Finals, any absence of harmony would be fatal against the Lakers. In fact, L.A.’s additions of Matt Barnes and Steve Blake, plus the healed and healthy knees of Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum make the sum of the Lakers' personnel much better than the sum of the Heat’s parts.

Finally, Kobe has the rings to prove he’s a winner. LeBron has the video of the last two games of the 2010 Cleveland-Boston conference series to prove that he’s a loser.

If it’s entirely possible for Miami’s season to come up roses, it’s also within the realm of possibility that too many weeds will choke the team’s blossoming, and the Heat will crash and burn.

Tagged: Celtics, Lakers, Heat, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Joel Anthony

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