The Miami Heat’s ‘big three’ won their second consecutive championship with a Game 7 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday. The second championship was significantly more difficult to win than the first one and many more questions have been asked about the core of this team that included full length series tests against the Indiana Pacers and the Spurs.
While LeBron James is on this team, there’s no question that they will be considered as serious title contenders. However, it is also clear that the competition isn’t getting any easier. Derrick Rose will join the Chicago Bulls again in 2013-14, Indiana have the potential to add to a young, tough and talented group. Even the Atlanta Hawks are being spoken about as a team with serious potential to re-tool. Out West, Kobe Bryant will be eyeing one more title and San Antonio may have one more year where they can run, Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder prepare to make a serious challenge, while the LA Clippers and Houston Rockets are both reportedly aiming to make big moves.
What are the keys for Miami adding to their two championships and truly making good on the promise of ‘not one, not two, three, four, five, six and seven’.
1. Dwyane Wade’s Knees
It was obvious just how crucial Wade still is to this team. He took over Game 4, he was huge in Game 6 and he led the team through the first half in Game 7. He clearly is still the heart and soul of this team. He always has been and clearly still is a player completely unafraid to take big shots and drive to the basket. It is also clear that LeBron cannot carry Wade. He needs Wade playing at least somewhere near his best to be successful.
If Wade cannot get over his current knee issues, then that could well disrupt the opportunities for this franchise to win further championships.
2. Mario Chalmers’ Development
Chalmers isn’t talked about enough. His offensive play may well be a little erratic and inconsistent. However, his offensive effort was a big factor in three of his team’s wins. He picked up 19 points in Game 2, 20 points n Game 6 and 14 points in Game 7, including a clutch late, long three point-shot to beat the buzzer in the third quarter.
Chalmers has also developed into an excellent defensive player. He still needs to work on facilitating the offense a little better. Understandably he defers frequently to James, who is an elite playmaker. The 27-year old needs to continue developing and needs to help balance this team’s line-up out.
3. Front Court Addition(s)
The most glaring weakness for this team that was quite clearly exposed during the 2013 NBA playoffs was the lack of a powerful front court presence. Chris Bosh and his role on this team will come under heavy scrutiny. They need to add a big, tough and gritty body on the front court to compete against the physical style of play exhibited by Chicago and Indiana. It isn’t clear where the cap room will come for that move, but teams will target that area of weakness if it isn’t resolved this offseason.