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10 Reasons Miami Heat Fans Should Look Forward To The 2014-2015 Season
- Updated: September 19, 2014
The 2014 offseason was not a pretty one for the Miami Heat. LeBron James took his talents back to the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Heat were faced with having to replace a four-time NBA MVP who brought them two NBA Championships and four conference titles.
How does a franchise deal with such a blow?
They reload. While the media and observers have been down on the Heat ever since, Pat Riley and the organization have replaced ‘The King’ with numerous veterans hungry to prove doubters wrong. Among those veteran additions include players such as Luol Deng, Danny Granger, Josh McRoberts, Shannon Brown and Shawne Williams.
Miami may not have a cakewalk in attempting to win their fifth consecutive Eastern Conference title in 2015, but they won’t go down without a fight. Here are 10 reasons why Heat fans should look forward to the upcoming season.
1. Dwyane Wade Returns As The Franchise Centerpiece
Hey, you remember that guy Dwyane Wade, right?
You know, that player who led the Heat to their first NBA Championship in 2006 and won Finals MVP. That very same player who holds many franchise records, including games played, total point scored, assists, and free throws converted. He’s the shooting guard who was the face of the franchise for seven seasons before LeBron brought ‘The Decision’ to life.
Wade enters his 12th NBA season at the age of 32 in 2014. There is little doubt that this season won’t be his most challenging yet, as the Heat look to start anew after relying heavily upon the talents of James over the past several seasons. After playing in just 54 regular season games the previous season, and laying a dud in the 2014 NBA Finals, there doesn’t seem to be much confidence in ‘Flash’ leading the Heat to a fifth consecutive NBA Finals appearance.
Some food for thought before people write off D3 for good—the veteran shot a career-high .545 from the field last season.
While it’s a bit unreasonable to think he will repeat the feat for a second consecutive season, the fact remains that one series—the NBA Finals—tainted an otherwise excellent season by the veteran guard.
2. The Heat In The Post-LeBron Era
This one is as clear as day as to why not only Heat fans, but any NBA fan in general, should look forward to Miami this season.
People are down on this team. Teams such as the Washington Wizards and Toronto Raptors are being touted as having better squads than the defending Eastern Conference Champions entering 2014. It would seem popular opinion suggests that with the departure of LeBron, this team is doomed, in spite of still having Wade and Chris Bosh on the roster.
The Heat will have a lot of haters throughout the season, and it should be interesting to see how they respond to adversity without the services of the best player in the game on the roster.
3. Chris Bosh’s Role As A Go-To Guy
While many have placed a focus on Wade being the go-to guy for the Heat this season, that may not be the case—that role may actually belong to Bosh.
While D3 has a lot of wear-and-tear on his body from his aggressive style of play over the past decade, Bosh has been a healthy player for the duration of his NBA career. Outside of the 2011-12 lockout-shortened season, the 6’11” big has never played in any less than 67 games in a regular season. Due to James’ style of play, Bosh became a catch-and-shoot player over recent seasons, which has kept him healthier than ever.
Because of Wade’s questionable health, the answer to the Heat’s fortunes may be in the hands of the former Toronto Raptor.
4. Heat-Cavaliers Rivalry
As is standard practice for inter-conference foes, the Heat and Cavaliers will face one another a grand total of four times during the ’14-15 season. Despite the Heat-Cavaliers having never been considered a rivalry in the past, it doesn’t mean that it won’t be this season and for the near future. With James defecting back to the Cavaliers after the Heat lost to the San Antonio Spurs in the 2014 Finals, and with the Cavs locked in as a championship contender following the acquisition of Kevin Love, it’s hard to imagine seeing a better regular season matchup than this one.
Miami receives a visit from ‘The King’ and the Cavaliers on December 25th in what will be considered the league’s marquee game of the regular season.
5. How Will Heat’s New Additions Fare?
If the Heat are to remain Eastern Conference contenders and prove all of the doubters wrong, it’s going to take more than just Bosh and Wade playing at All-Star caliber levels.
Miami’s aforementioned offseason additions—players like Deng, McRoberts, Granger and Brown for example—absolutely need to be vital parts of the rotation. What does that mean? Each player needs to fulfill their role on the team. Deng needs to play like a true No. 3 scorer on a contending team by giving the Heat 16 points a game. McRoberts has to stretch the floor and knock in a lot of threes to offset the loss of Ray Allen. Both Granger and Brown are expected to be healthy scorers off of the bench.
It will take a total team effort for the defending Eastern Conference Champions this season.
6. Can Mario Chalmers Right The Ship?
When it was announced that Mario Chalmers was re-signed by the Heat just days after James left for Cleveland, fans in Miami weren’t exactly pleased with the move.
And how could you blame them?
While Wade, Bosh and the rest of the Heat outside of LeBron stunk up the joint during the Finals loss to the Spurs, Chalmers was by far the worst rotational player on both squads. He averaged just 4.4 points per game, shot .333 percent from the field and converted on just .143 of his shots beyond the arc.
Considering there were other options on the free agent market, and due to the fact the Heat did acquire rookie Shabazz Napier during the 2014 NBA Draft, most considered Chalmers’ career in South Beach to be over.
That is not the case, as the former Kansas product will receive another opportunity to revive his career in Miami.
7. Less Predictability
The past four seasons was an absolute blast to be a Heat fan. The franchise added two championship banners to its rafters and made the NBA Finals in each of those seasons.
Having said that, although the road was rocky at times, let’s be honest—the Heat were clearly the best team in the East over the past three seasons. The only season in which there were truly doubts as to whether that was actually the case was in 2010-11 when the Derrick Rose-led Bulls clinched the No. 1 seed in the conference. Miami quickly squashed those doubts by defeating the Bulls and shutting down the league MVP in a five-game series that very season.
Up until their 2014 NBA Finals loss to San Antonio, the Heat hadn’t lost a playoff series since the 2011 NBA Finals to the Dallas Mavericks.
The 2014-15 season promises more unpredictability, which will mean more entertaining and meaningful games.
8. More Team-Oriented Offense
The Heat were LeBron’s team over the past three seasons. From 2011 onward, Erik Spoelstra ran his offense purely through the talents of the four-time MVP.
Outside of looking at usage statistics, one merely has to look at Bosh and Wade’s free throw attempt numbers, as they declined during each season of the ‘Big Three’ era. Wade averaged 8.3 attempts from the charity stripe in 2011, 6.6 in 2012, 6.4 in 2013 and a career-low 5.2 in 2014. In the case of Bosh, he averaged a career-high 8.4 attempts the year before arriving in Miami in 2010, went to the line 6.1 times a game in 2011, 4.9 in 2012, 4.4 in 2013, before finishing with a career-low 3.4 average in 2014.
You see the trend and the problem here?
The Heat became too reliant on LeBron. Spoelstra became too reliant on LeBron. As a result, the team lived and died based upon one player.
That won’t be the case in 2015. Expect Wade and Bosh to go to the free-throw line more often as the offense runs through all five players on the court, and not just one.
9. The Heat’s Quest For A Fifth Consecutive Eastern Conference Title
Outside of the Bill Russell-led Celtics of yesteryear, no team in NBA history has made it to the Finals five consecutive times. If Miami were to somehow accomplish the feat, it would be all the more impressive considering what they endured during the offseason.
10. Luol Deng
Simply put, Deng is the X-factor for the Heat this season. Though the trio of Deng, Wade and Bosh aren’t exactly the trio of ‘Bron, Wade and Bosh, it is still no slouch. Among the new Heat ‘Big Three’, they have five combined championships and 21 All-Star Appearances. The former Bull is a career 16.0 point per game scorer who led the NBA in minutes played per game in 2012 and 2013.
The addition of the veteran small forward won’t lead to an automatic championship, but it ensures the Heat will still have a nucleus that can match up with the very best in the NBA.