Best and Worst Case Scenarios for the 2015 Miami Heat

Best and Worst Case Scenarios for the 2015 Miami Heat

Dwyane Wade against Houston ROckets

Best Case Scenario

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The East is weak, but the top seeds will settle atop the conference as the season progresses. Toronto has an impressive Jr. Big 3 with Kyle Lowry, Terrence Ross, and DeMar DeRozan. The Washington Wizards may be without Beal for the next month as he rehabs a left wrist fracture that he sustained in a pre-season game against the Charlotte Hornets. That certainly will be a set-back, but John Wall can hold his team together in the meantime. The Cleveland Cavaliers have LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love…they’re the favorites to win the title for a reason.

The Hornets have started slowly, but I’m a believer in Lance Stephenson, who has started off the 2014-15 season rather disappointingly. Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker are no joke. Kemba pulled his best 2013-14 Damian Lillard impression on opening night. That game-tying three to send it to overtime and the game-winning jumper provided Milwaukee Bucks’ rookie Jabari Parker with a rude welcome-to-the-NBA beginning. The Chicago Bulls were a legitimate threat last year, and the loss of Deng to the Heat was compensated for with the off-season pick-up of Pau Gasol…and there’s also former MVP Derrick Rose back in action.

If the Heat can be in the mix with Chicago, Washington, Charlotte, Toronto, and Cleveland, it should definitely be considered a successful season. Barring injuries, Cleveland and Chicago will finish first and second in the East. Toronto should be right behind them. If Beal takes longer than expected to recover and the Hornets take some time to work Lance “Born Ready” Stephenson into their system, Miami at their best could be right there.

In order for the Heat to compete with these five teams, the most important thing is for Chris Bosh to continue leading his team, especially offensively. 24 and 10 with four assists is well within reason for the 30-year-old, and a pre-requisite for competition in the East.

Dwyane Wade must continue to give Miami at least 30 minutes per game of 15-5-5 basketball. Is that unreasonable? Absolutely not, and I think Wade himself would tell you that. The real question is what his knees will tell us as the minutes start to stack up.

Deng and Norris Cole need to continue to lead the team defensively. The combination of solid perimeter defenders is crucial in a conference with Irving, Lowry, Wall, Stephenson…you get the idea. Cole has never been afraid of stepping up to a challenge defensively, and his playoff experience will help keep his confidence level high. Shawne Williams has rounded out the starting lineup nicely despite spending the vast majority of his previous six years in the NBA coming off the bench. In a Heat team starved for height, the 6’10” forward will need to continue to contribute on the glass.

Miami’s bench is not something that can be depended upon with regularity, but as long as they can get occasional production from Chris Andersen, rookie Shabazz Napier, Justin Hamilton, and James Ennis, they will be fine. And no, I didn’t forget the third-man in Miami’s three-guard rotation. Mario Chalmers has something to prove again, coming off the bench. But like Cole, the championship experience has instilled both a fire and a confidence in Chalmers. If he can be a solid sixth-man and give 20 to 25 minutes of 10-4-4 with good defense, Erik Spoelstra will continue to mix-and-match the Cole-Chalmers-Wade trio. If Spo can do that, manage a poor bench, and get Miami into a 4-5 seed, he will be in the running for Coach of the Year.

Best-case scenario is therefore home-court advantage and a match-up against a lower-tier Eastern conference team that could send Miami to the second round of the playoffs.

Next: Worst Case Scenario

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