Miami Heat, Will 2 1/2 stars be enough to win 3?

Can the Heat be beatThe road to an NBA Championship is not an easy one, even if your franchise has a big three of Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh. The two time defending NBA Champion Miami Heat are only days away from starting their quest for a third consecutive NBA title.

But the Heat may be facing their toughest challenge title yet. The Big 3 have logged a tremendous number of minutes  for the Heat and the US National Team and the wear and tear has started to show. Lebron has missed multiple games due to back spasms and Wade has logged 26 DNP’s due to dwade kneesreoccurring knee ailments. The Heat triumvirate are mere shadows of themselves, only showing glimpses of dominance in short spurts.

Despite their slow start and a pathetic 13-12 finish the Heat still may get the top seed in the Eastern Conference and secure home court. But are their regular season woes a legitimate reason to be concerned? Wade dealt with a bad knee last season, but he was clutch in crunch time scoring 26 points against the San Antonio Spurs in Game 7 of the NBA Finals.

Although the Greg Oden and Michael Beasley experiment were a total failure, and Shane Battier is having the worst year of his career. However, the bench is not that bad thanks to  the key contributions of Heat co-captain Udonis Haslem and big man Chris Birdman Andersen, two reliable rebounders and defenders that make life difficult for opposing big men. And who can forget Norris Cole who continues to be an invaluable spark off the bench  whose a great on ball defender whose always good for a timely three.

Heat 3 PeatThe bench will be relied on heavily to give James an occasional blow, and since asking Wade to log 40 minutes on back-to-back is completely out of the question the Heat championship fate will ultimately rest with Bosh. There is no doubt that James will come ready to play, however the same cannot be said about the other two. Is 2 1/2 stars enough to win a third title? Can the Heat 3-Peat or will they finally be beat? Stay tuned…I know I will – A. Denmark

Attention #Heat and #Pacers – 2 is better than 1, no #Bull

paul george dunks on lebronLast night we witnessed two elite NBA teams treat a meaningless regular season game like it was Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Although no team was eliminated from title contention last night the intensity and rough play indicate that health not talent may go along way in determining who the next Eastern Conference Champion.

After being eliminated from the playoffs last year the Pacers were on a mission to beat the heat by securing home court. And with only a handful of games remaining they are very close to attaining their goal. Although being the top seed certainly has its advantage, there road to the title will a tad more difficult than two defending NBA Champions.

The Pacers clearly began this season with the end in mind, believing that the outcome ofbullsvspacers Game 7 would be different on their home court. However, it appears they may have forgotten that there is a Eastern Conference Semifinals and the team that may be waiting is the Joakim Noah and the Rose-less Chicago Bulls. Both the Heat and Pacers have struggled against the Bulls and their battles dwade kneeshas left its fare share of bumps and bruises. Although a win seems certain, whoever survives the seven game  battle royal with the Bulls will enter the Eastern Conference Finals wounded, scarred, and vulnerable due to exhaustion and fatigue.

Since both the Pacers and Heat are far too prideful to tank, ask yourself which road to the conference final would you prefer? Facing the rough andpacersvsheat tumble Bulls? Or making quick work of young and inexperienced Washington Wizards and the Toronto Raptors? Although the Pacers may have won the battle, did they compromise their title hopes along the way? It takes 16 wins to be crowned an NBA Champion, and this year the two seed may provide the better route. Did the Heat win in a losing effort? Only time will tell. Stay tuned…I know I will.

 

Miami Heat 3-Peat? or Will the Heat be Beat?

dwade kneesThe road to a championship is a long and arduous journey filled with many pitfalls and obstacles along the way. Winning a championship is no easy task, winning two is even harder, and three titles in a row is damn near absurd to even fathom. However, when your franchise is led by three NBA All-Stars first winning three NBA championship is not as implausible as it may be for others.

After losing to the Dallas Mavericks in the 2006 NBA Finals, led by Lebron James the Miami Heat have been on a mission to win titles, not one, not two, not three… The path to two championships was far from an easy one and certainly came with a few bumps and scrapes along the way. Two titles, 264 games, Lebron back spasms, and 35 missed games by Dwayne Wade later the Heat are far from a lock to win their third consecutive NBA Title and their bitter rivals the Indiana Pacers and the Chicago Bulls smell blood.

The Heat have lost seven of their last eleven and although they are not at risk ofAnthony Davis blocks Chris Bosh finishing worst that second in the Eastern Conference, the poor play has been unacceptable. James and Chris Bosh have vocalized their frustrations publicly and have addressed the team privately, but will that fix the problem? Since a playoff berth has already been secured, should there be reason to worry?

My belief is the Heat must figure out their line up, the Heat’s recent slide should make everyone realize how indispensable Mike Miller was to their team. Although Ray Allen is the NBA leader in 3 pointers made his age has begun to show and he has become a huge liability on the defensive side of the ball. The Greg Oden reclamation project has been a huge fail, and the Heat will again have a gaping hole in the paint.

lebron and dwadeDespite these glaring deficiencies the Heat title hopes will ultimately rest in the hands of the forgotten All-Star Chris Bosh, whose magnificent play has been largely overlooked and ignored and the chemistry of the Heat’s best and brightest. King James may go down as the greatest player of all time, but titles are not won alone. Although Wade has missed a plethora of regular season games, doubting him again would be a huge mistake.

Until James and Wade figure out their timing the Heat will remain vulnerable and the excuses and poor play will continue. Although the Heat certainly have problems now, only time will tell if they find the solutions in time for the playoffs and their quest for three. Stay tuned…I know I will – A. Denmark

 

 

Miami Heat – Life After the NBA Finals

Future of the Miami Heat big 3The championship confetti in American Airlines Arena has been swept and the Miami Heat’s $100,000 champagne tab has been paid after celebrating their second NBA Championship in three attempts. Once the final siren has rung commemorating a memorable season tough decisions about the future must be answered.Do you pick up point guard Mario Chalmers $4 million dollar player option? Do you bring back the Birdman and trust that he has finally conquered his demons of drugs and chris birdman andersensubstance abuse?

Although many pundits suggest that Chris Bosh or Dwyane Wade may be moved, the reality is that these perennial All-Stars are used goods that would not fetch equal market value. This season Bosh was exposed as a one dimensional pushover whose stock is at a all-time low. And after year of violent collisions in the paint Wade’s value also took a significant hit and his longevity is definitely in doubt.

Despite the $200 million dollars worth of uncertainty as long as Lebron James continuesdwayne wade bruised knee his rein as the best basketball player on the planet, the Heat will continue to be a prohibitive favorite. As long as the King maintains his rein talented veterans will happily take a pay cut in their quest for a NBA Championship to secure their own legacy.

While the big name free agents will garner most of the headlines and press clipping, veteran big men like Chris Kaman, Elton Brand, and Samuel Dalembert may hold the key to the Heat securing their third NBA Championship in South Beach.

Chris Kaman and Elton BrandLast season opposing teams brutalized the Heat with their inside power, a need for length and girth is critical to fend off all challengers. Kaman, Brand, and Dalembert have already collected their fare share of millions, which one will be willing to take the sizable pay cut to solidify the Heat’s front line? Although the euphoria of a second NBA title is still fresh as soon as the Heat address their off season concerns, talks of third NBA title can soon begin. When Heat President of Basketball of Operations, Pat Riley calls, which veteran big man will answer? Stay tuned… I know I will – A. Denmark

Anthony Denmark is a writer for eatdrnkslpsprtz.com. Follow him on Twitter@eatdrkslpsprtz2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on GoogleListen to eatdrnkslpsprtz radio  Subscribe to podcast

Blueprint to a NBA Championship – Spurs stability vs Heats star power

miami heat earned not givenAfter the Miami Heat assembled their big three many franchises believed that the way to win a NBA title is by signing big name free agents and teetering on the verge of luxury tax disaster in order to be crowned as NBA Champions.

Several teams foolishly followed suit assembling their own versions of the big three but none of those teams are in the conference championship fighting for an opportunity to dethrone the reigning NBA Champion Heat.

Big market teams like the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, and the Los Angeles Los Angeles Lakers $100 Million RosterLakers led by their billionaire owners foolishly thought that they would simply write a blank check and the 2013 NBA Championship would be theirs for the taking.

As these owners get a strong dose of humility while in luxury tax purgatory small market franchises continue to thrive despite building a title contender on a budget. The San Antonio Spurs continue to be the standard for small market franchises who refuse to overpay players and rely on superb scouting and player development programs.

Although small market teams like the Indiana Pacers and the Memphis Grizzles will never win a popularity contest or ever attract big name free agents one thing is certain, these teams will likely find themselves in the conference finals for decades too come.

Since the San Antonio Spurs will be returning to the NBA Finals for the first time sincesan antonio spurs dynasty 2007 the table it set for a clash for the ages. If the Heat duplicate their  impressive performance in Game 3 its very likely that the Heat will clinch the east.

If the Heat and Spurs clash the game as well as how to construct a NBA Championship will be on the line. Both formulas have resulted in NBA Championship but which style will win in the end.

nba big three eraThe Heat big three which was assembled via the free agency and the decision. And the Spurs wise three which was constructed through the NBA Draft. Which big three take its place as one of the best of all-time? Coach Pop, the Big Fundamental and his crew or The King and his court? Stay tuned… I know I will – A. Denmark

 

Anthony Denmark is a writer for eatdrnkslpsprtz.com. Follow him on Twitter@eatdrkslpsprtz2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on GoogleListen to eatdrnkslpsprtz radio Tues/Thurs 3 PM EST. Subscribe to podcast

NBA Coaching Carousel – Hired. Fired. Then hired again. When will the vicious cycle end?

nba coaching carouselAt the end of every NBA season the coaching firing squad ensues and the franchises who failed to live up to expectation find themselves back at the drawing board searching for a new coach to excite a fan base and make their perspective franchise relevant once again.

Franchises invest millions of dollars to unearth hidden gems in remote countries all over the country but for some reason these same franchises fail to invest the same time in searching for their next coach instead selecting one from the Fired Basketball Coaches Association, ‘FBCA’.

Although a few fired coaches have won NBA Championships in their second stint, Doc Rivers and Rich Carlisle, its time for NBA tom thibodeau jeff van gundyfront offices to finally think outside of the box. All eight of the teams remaining in the playoffs took the road less traveled hiring long time assistants, ex-video recorders, and an ex-commentator.

When the defending NBA Champion Miami Heat hired a longtime video recorder as its erik spoelstra miami video recordernext coach Erik Spoelstra was a great unknown. However, in only three short seasons he won nearly 400 game as well as a NBA title.

When pundits were calling for a big name hire for the Chicago Bulls and the Indiana Pacers these franchises did entertain anyone from the ‘F.B.C.A’ and instead hired long time assistants Frank Vogel and Tom Thibodeau who have been home run hires.

As the NBA coaching carousel continues prominent names like Scott Skiles, Byron Scott, Mike Dunleavy, and Nate McMillian will continue to be mentioned as top candidates  nba coaching vacancywhile little known assistants may the one to lead your franchise back to prominence. Six NBA franchises must find their next leader, will they go with the popular big name hire? Or will they venture down the road less traveled? Stay tuned… I know I will.

Anthony Denmark is a writer for eatdrnkslpsprtz.com. Follow him on Twitter@eatdrkslpsprtz2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. Listen to eatdrnkslpsprtz radio Tues/Thurs 630 PM EST

NBA Playoffs: Previewing Sunday’s Match-ups

nba playoffs 2013After 82 games of no defense and little effort on the court, effort returns with everything now on the line and with each team dreaming of hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy as NBA Champions. Although the Miami Heat are the prohibitive favorite the NBA Title will not be gift wrapped and handed to them with a bow on a silver platter.

The fortunate 16 teams who have made it to the postseason all are vulnerable and enter the playoffs not completely at full strength.

Miami Heat vs. Milwaukee Bucks

The Heat’s first round tussle with the Milwaukee Bucks may not be the cake walk that many expect. The Bucks led by scorers Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis will build a tent in the lane and fire from long-range with abandonment. The Heat will have several of their shots swatted by defensive player of the year candidate Larry Sanders who gave the Heat fits in the regular season. miami heat big three championship ringsAlthough I do believe the Bucks have the talent to steal a game at home, many will not be surprised if the Heat use Jennings comments of beating the defending champions in six games as fuel to send a message to the rest of the teams in the playoffs.

Indiana Pacers vs. Atlanta Hawks

The Indiana Pacers limp into the playoffs on a three game losing streak without their full paul george tyler hanborough indiana pacerscomplement of players. With only two players under long-term contracts the Atlanta Hawks play each game trying to impress future suitors and also to change the mind of Hawks ownership to offer them a long-term contract. During the regular season the teams have split their match-ups but the Pacers were clearly the more talented team. Although the Hawks will not be swept the Pacer will be prime for an upset if their All-Star forward Paul George does not get out of his regular season scoring funk.

Los Angeles Lakers vs. San Antonio Spurs

At the start of the 2012 season each of these teams were projected by many to be thedwight howard air balls free throw prohibitive favorite to challenge the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Western Conference title. Both of these aging franchise have been riddled with the injury bug and enter the playoff a shell of the team that many expected them to be. Tony Parker is hobbling on one leg and Steve Nash continues to make fans forget that he collected two MVPs in his career. This game will ultimately be won or loss in the paint. Does Tim Duncan have enough spring in his legs to thwart the Kobe-less Lakers and their twin towers. Dwight Howard‘s inability to hit free throws in the clutch combined with Kawhi Leonard and their bench will be the Spurs saving grace .

Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

james harden fear the beardJames Harden returns to him home stomping ground poised to remind the Thunder front office that they made a huge mistake in trading him. The Thunders duo of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant should be enough to take down the Rockets lone star. Although the Houston Rockets are capable of scoring points in bunches their inability to make defensive stops will be their downfall. Expect Westbrook to do lay up drill against the Rockets and live at the free throw line when they decide to foul.

Anthony Denmark is a writer for eatdrnkslpsprtz.com. Follow him on Twitter@eatdrkslpsprtz2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. Listen to eatdrnkslpsprtz radio Tues/Thurs 630 PM EST & Sat 1030 AM EST