Coming off a disaster of an off season, the Miami Heat still have a playoff contending roster. The Heat have played below .500 basketball throughout the season, and have also lost main key players in the process during the season. But with the resurgence of Dwyane Wade and the diamond in the rough acquisition of Hasaan Whiteside, they look poised to lock the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference. As things look currently , the Cleveland Cavaliers will lock in the 2nd seed of the Eastern Conference, setting up an exciting first round series.

Season Outlook:

After losing superstar LeBron James, the Miami Heat looked to be reeling after only resigning Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Unlike earlier years, the Heat were unable to sign marquee free agents and settled on now injured Josh McRoberts, injury prone veteran Danny Granger who is now on the bench for the Phoenix Suns and defensive specialist Luol Deng.

After the disaster of the off season, the Heat started their season off pretty great with a win against the Washington Wizards. They looked pretty good at the start of the season, including a fantastic start led by Chris Bosh. All seemed decently well at the start of the season, finishing with a record of 9-7 in the first month.

December was a whole different monster, losing 5 of their first 6 games to start the month off. The end was just as terrible losing 4 of their final 5 games. The Heat were also defeated by the lowly 76ers in the middle of the month, but were able to spoil LeBron’s homecoming on December 25th. By far, the worst month this season as they finished 5-12. Miami finished 5-12, 14-19 for the season.

The month of January didn’t bring much better results, Miami acquired rebounding machine Hasaan Whiteside and were given the chance to salvage the young season. Miami fell flat in terms of recovering, and once again lost more games than won. Although Whiteside performed at an unreal pace, he struggled with the discipline aspect of the NBA and struggled with technical fouls and ejections. The Heat finished the month of January 6-7 and 20-26 for the season.

By far the worst in terms of injury, the month of February derailed the hopes of a higher playoff seed in the Eastern Conference. On Feb. 14th, the Miami Heat were blindsided with the news of a blood clot in the lungs of All-Star Chris Bosh. Bosh was having yet another fantastic season, and was attempting to fill the void left by LeBron. On the bright side for the Heat, they were able to shop the trading market at the last possible second before the deadline and were able to acquire the Dragic brothers, more notably Goran Dragic. Goran Dragic took the duties of starting point guard from Mario Chalmers, and has thrived in the setting of Miami’s offense. The Heat had yet another month of below .500 basketball finishing with a record of 5-7 in the month of February and 25-33 for the season.

March was the month that they finally got their head out of their asses. Fearing that the team wouldn’t make the playoffs at the pace of 25-33, South Beach was able to piece their team together besides the fact that Chris Bosh was out for the season. Finishing with their first over .500 month since November, the Miami Heat finished with a 9-5 month of March. Going from out of the postseason into the 7th seed, the Heat look poised to continue their annual post season success.

Projected Postseason Lineup

PG: Goran Dragic: 16.2 PPG, 5.3 APG, 3.5 RPG, 50.4 % FG

SG: Dwyane Wade: 21.7 PPG, 5.0 APG, 3.6 RPG, 47.7 % FG

SF: Luol Deng: 14.2 PPG, 1.9 APG, 4.9 RPG, 48.0 % FG

PF: Udonis Haslem: 4.1 PPG, 0.7 APG, 4.0 RPG, 44.1 % FG

C: Hasaan Whiteside: 11.0 PPG, 0.1 APG, 9.7 RPG, 61.8 % FG

Strengths:

During the four years in which LeBron James was the main man in Miami, the Heat always lacked a true point guard on their squad. It’s almost ironic that now that LeBron has moved on, the Heat were finally able to acquire the point guard that they so sorely needed in the glory years. Goran Dragic has brought peace to the revolving door of point guards in Miami which includes veteran Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole (since traded to the New Orleans Pelicans), and now Shabazz Napier (season ending surgery this week).

The other glaring hole in the championship winning Miami Heat team was a decent center. Without a center, the Miami Heat were forced to play small ball, LeBron James usually was handed the responsibility of playing center. Although the consequences weren’t too severe including the fact that they won the championship playing small ball. Hasaan Whiteside is the center that LeBron and Co. needed.

Weaknesses:

Although he seems to be experiencing a second wind, Dwyane Wade is finally turning the corner on his age. Without LeBron, Wade doesn’t seem to be experiencing any pains besides the record of the team. Although it seems like an 82 game season would be grueling, the exhausting aspects are nothing compared to the NBA playoffs. Wade is a seasoned veteran in terms of the playoffs, but age is catching up to him and it seems he is taking more and more games off for rest. Wade did recently drop 40 points in a game against the Pistons, but has been battling nagging injuries throughout the season.

Another iffy position for the Heat is power forward. Although Udonis Haslem is a great rim protector, he is getting old and is experiencing pains in his body throughout the season. Now 34 years old, Haslem is no longer the fast and limber power forward in recent years, and is constantly beat off the dribble against younger forwards such as Kevin Love. Haslem could prove to be a hampering for Miami.

April and Beyond:

Looking forward to the month of April, Miami has a decently easy month. Games against Orlando, 76ers, and Pistons may prove to buff their record up to .500 right before the end of the season. Now while most Cavs fans may want to face the Heat in the first round, look for LeBron to change his whole outlook on the Miami Heat and destroy them.

 

 

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