If you can't take the Heat?.The Miami Heat made their best showing in franchise history a season ago in reaching the Eastern Conference Finals but still fell short of expectations. The expectations grow even higher this season as veteran guard Gary Payton (The Glove) and still emerging playmaker Jason Williams (White Chocolate) join Superman (Shaquille O'neal) and Flash (Dwayne Wade) to form their own version of the fantastic four. With other key acquisitions James Posey and Antoine Walker thrown into the mix, along side Alonzo Mourning; this is the best talent in the East. The question at large is if this team will look as good during the course of the season as they do on paper.
In the recent past we've seen that having too much talent can hinder a team. In 2003, the Los Angeles Lakers, with four future hall-of-famers (Shaq, Kobe, Gary Payton, Karl Malone) had trouble finding their rhythm and ultimately could not get the job done.They found it difficult to get enough touches for each player, and Payton and Malone never fully adapted to the triangle offense. But with this new Miami squad, not as much seems to be in doubt.
It is a huge advantage that O'neal and Payton were both a part of the Lakers' debacle two seasons ago. They will be able to dissect the problems in L.A. and bring their experience to Miami.One problem they will have to address is team chemistry. Players will need to understand and adhere to the role that is best for the team and not the one they are used to playing.
Dwayne Wade, Jason Williams, Gary Payton, and Antoine Walker are all used to having the ball in their hands and making the decisions on offense. Dwayne Wade will have the ball the majority of the time, and it will be up to Coach Van Gundy to find a system that works for Payton and Williams. I think he will get himself into trouble is he tries to play these guys in a set rotation.
If he plays them strategically according to matchups, the Heat will be better off?even if this means one of them hardly playing in some games.Defense was the biggest weakness for Miami a season ago. In this regard, the Heat improve with their new players.
Payton's length at 6'4'' and above average quickness, despite aging legs, should provide solid on the ball defense resulting in keeping the oppositions point guards in check. Posey is athletic at 6'8'' and can guard smaller if need be. Walker's large frame will allow Van Gundy to be creative with matchups.
He will be a solid compliment to O'neal and Haslem. Miami shouldn't lose a game on the boards all season.If Miami had another weakness last season, it was a consistent compliment to Shaq and Wade. The Heat need a third player to be productive and efficient to win a title. For the Bulls in the nineties, there was Michael, Scottie, and Horace Grant. For the Spurs, there's Duncan, Ginobli, and Parker.
Last season, the two Jones' usually took on the role of the third scorer. But in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Pistons defensive intensity made it difficult for Damon to get open looks and kept Eddie's slashing to a minimum. Antoine Walker could be what the Heat is looking for. He will fill a stat line more than either of the Jones' did last season. He will consistently get double-doubles. But in order for Walker to be the type of player this team needs, he will have to exercise better shot selection than he's shown in the past, which should help him shoot a better percentage from the field.
Also, look for William's energy at the end of quarters to be a big spark for the Heat.Miami will be the team to beat in the East this season..Jimmy Boyd is a documented member of the Professional Handicappers League. Read all of his articles at http://www.
By: Jimmy Boyd