LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are smiling again. The Miami Heat eked out a second consecutive title by way of grit, grind and big games from the Heat’s duo. However, James promised not one, not two but multiple titles when the trio of him, Wade and Chris Bosh originally joined forces in 2010. So after the parades, the parties and the parlaying, Miami will be getting back to work and readying themselves again for another title run. But with the way Wade hobbled to the finish line and the way Bosh sleepwalked through the Finals, Miami doesn’t look like such a clear favorite for hoisting the 2014 NBA title. Stephen D. Riley and Perry Green of the AFRO Sports Desk debate where the Heat will rise from here.
Riley: Trying to figure out what’s next for Miami is pretty tough. This is a team that was pushed to the brink by the San Antonio Spurs and won a trophy with virtually no scoring from Bosh and a vintage performance from Wade. James was excellent in Game 7, scoring nearly 40 points while draining three’s and jumpers from all over the court. Wade looked gassed throughout the Finals and Bosh was simply horrible but I still would pencil in the returning champs for a return appearance to the big show next year. James is the best player in the NBA, period, and Wade, if healthy, is still one of the best sidekicks. If Bosh simply plays average basketball next post-season, the Heat will once again cruise into the last round.
Green: I wouldn’t herald their return just yet. I loved what I saw out of the Indiana Pacers when those two teams met in the Eastern Finals and I have to believe that injured star Danny Granger, once the face of the franchise, will either provide a great boost to the team upon his healthy return or net the team a nice compensation piece should Indiana trade him. The stars are aligned for Indiana to be even stronger next year. The Eastern Conference will also welcome the return of Chicago’s Derrick Rose from his ACL tear next fall and the New York Knicks will be good, too, so you have a few power house teams that should threaten Miami easily.
Riley: We hear this talk every year about teams threatening Miami and while it sounds nice it never materializes that way. Look, nobody is challenging Miami in the East. As long as Wade’s knees are good then Miami is untouchable. Chicago couldn’t beat Miami before Rose’s injury and New York simply isn’t on Miami’s level. Now, Indiana is a serious threat but there has to be some doubt in their minds about whether or not they can even hang with the Heat after losing to them in back-to-back seasons.
Green: There has to be some concern in Miami’s minds whether or not they can just write off the Pacers after being pushed to the edge in consecutive years. We haven’t even gotten to the West yet where Oklahoma City gets Russell Westbrook back in full health. Miami’s growing older and neither Wade nor Bosh are the players they used to be just a few seasons ago. If you look at two of the Heat’s biggest role players this year, Chris Anderson and Ray Allen, they’re both in the 35-years-old and older category. Miami isn’t some young franchise. They’re already old and getting older so expecting a threepeat is going to be a stretch.
Riley: Until another team beats Miami in the Finals—which we haven’t seen in two years while they’ve played the two best teams over the past few seasons that the West has had to offer in San Antonio and Oklahoma—then it should be safe to expect a threepeat. Until we see the champs beaten, why would we expect them to lose?
Green: Judging how Wade and Bosh played in this last round, it’s obvious Miami has some patching to do if they want to make it out of the second round of the playoffs next year.