It may seem like a strange time to broach the subject with the 2013 NBA Finals hanging by a knife’s edge following a Game 5 victory for the San Antonio Spurs, which gives them a 3-2 lead in the series. However, the Miami Heat will have learned a crucial lesson during the 2013 NBA playoffs, regardless of whether they can get out of this jam, and that is that this roster cannot stay the same for the 2013-14 regular season and 2014 NBA playoffs.
The Heat must now face the serious possibility that the ‘big three’ era will enter its final guaranteed season in Miami having appeared in three straight NBA Finals, but having lost two of those. They may have to face the fact that a veteran and better ‘team’ had beaten them in two out of the three seasons.
The other possibility is that they win the next two games and somehow escape this year’s playoffs as repeat champions while knowing that they won’t be able to stand pat and hope to dominate again.
LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade will be on the 2013-14 opening night roster, but what can Pat Riley do – if anything – to surround the team’s big three with the sort of supporting cast that can ultimately lead this team back to success?
The first thing that is evidently very clear is that Bosh and James need help on the inside. They were outmatched by the Indiana Pacers and they’ve struggled in the post against San Antonio. James is getting double teamed and Bosh really is being asked to play a role that isn’t that natural to him.
Chris Andersen was effective against Indiana and the Chicago Bulls and many – including myself – think he should be getting more of a look in this game, but it’s also clear that Andersen struggles more against a skillful Spurs team that pulls players away from the basket, shoots the ball well and moves the ball around at a good pace.
Riley needs to find someone who Erik Spoelstra will trust to play at center and will trust with floor time at both ends of the court. This player doesn’t need to be a 35-minute per night guy, but he needs to give Miami a true under the hoop style look. Right now James is getting double teamed in the post too easily and Gregg Popovich knows that his best options will be feeding deep shots.
It’s also clear that Miami needs to re-invigorate its bench. It’s not clear whether Ray Allen will return, though his play has been strong in the NBA Finals. However, it is clear that Shane Battier and Mike Miller cannot be the three-point shooting carriers that they were in the 2012 playoffs. This team is reliant on shooting sources that just are not going to materialize and that’s a significant problem.
All eyes in Miami will be on these next two games. However, the longer-term future will be important to consider once again very soon for a franchise that is trying to establish dynasty status.