Photo Credit: Miami Herald
When you lose the best player on the Earth, you’re destined for a decline. But what’s happened in South Beach is a lot more bad a little quicker than most expected.
In their defense, when LeBron left the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2010, Dan Gilbert’s team went 97-215 (31 WP%) in four seasons after the King bolted for greater things in Miami. They also lost an NBA record 26 games in a row from 12/20/10-2/11/11
Unfortunately, McRoberts tore his meniscus on December 15th, Luol Deng played over 10,000 minutes from 2010-2014 (for some perspective Andre Iguodala played about 9.5K minutes over the same time) and as for Danny Granger, he’s been a walking corpse for years. Which is sad, because before he got hurt and was supplanted by Paul George, he was one of the league’s rising stars.
Now obviously there’s no replacing LeBron James, but the Heat at least made an effort to remain a contender in the East. Given what it takes to make the playoffs over there, they could still be on track to grab a lower seed. Despite being five games under .500, if the NBA Playoffs started today (they don’t) Miami would be the 7th seed. In the West they would be better than only five teams, the rebuilding Timberwolves and Jazz, the complicated Kings, the in-the-middle Nuggets and the IDKWTF they are Lakers. That’s good for 11th. But that’s not the case, so they’re safe and sound for a potential playoff berth in the Eastern Conference they actually play in.
Despite all their troubles, Chris Bosh is having an all-star season and Dwyane Wade, 33 going on 52, is still an impact player, just not like a crater impact but more you broke your straw impact. Everyone is safe, but you need a new straw.
The Heat are 11-10 on the road, the mark of a good team. Oklahoma City (9-13) and Cleveland (10-11) both possess inferior results on the road, but then again those teams have issues of their own, don’t they? Still, a record above .500 is usually a formula for success no matter what sport.
The uncharacteristic problem Miami is having is a simply turrible 7-13 home record. Of the current 16 playoff teams, only Miami and Brooklyn (8-14) have more L’s than W’s given the home court advantage.
Without LBJ dominating both sides of the ball and keeping the Heat elite, Dwyane Wade hasn’t been afforded his usual every-other-day rest for his dinosaur bones and Chris Bosh is still learning how to become a number 1 option again, dating back to his Dinosaur days as a Toronto Raptor. He also, of course, looks like a Dinosaur. #PrehistoricFullCircle
Because of all these variables, Miami did bring in D-Leaguer Hassan Whiteside, who has become quite the discovery. In 17 games for the Heat this season, the 25-year old former 2nd round pick of Sacramento is averaging a healthy 7.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and a very, very valuable 2 blocks per contest.
Unfortunately his healthy numbers can’t help his sprained ankle, suffered in last night’s loss to OKC in a nasty second quarter collision. Another bright spot for the Heat that has been sent to the sidelines. “Hassan Olajuwon” will miss Miami’s game tonight, but hopefully he’s back soon. On top of the team needing his presence and numbers, he’s a great story after being out of the NBA the past two seasons.
Will the Heat be a playoff team? It would be hard to see them missing out given their veteran experience. To me, it comes down to just how much of a factor Dwyane Wade can be. I am very anti-Wade, he’s one of my least favorite players and a notorious flopper and complainer, but if basketball genius Pat Riley sees justice in giving him a two-year $31.1 million dollar contract (with a player option for year three he’ll surely exercise) then there’s got to be a lot more left in the tank than D-Wade shows on a night to night basis.