Because preseason losses don’t really matter, the most talked about moment of the Miami Heat being defeated for the first time on the exhibition circuit was LeBron James showing his dunking form for the first time since the long summer break with two back to back slams.
After all, when the Miami Heat lose 100-82 to the Washington Wizards, you try and search for the positives, which weren’t that many. The most interesting things this offseason when examining the Miami Heat and the way they’re preparing for their second title defense have to do with James, Wade, Bosh and whether or not Michael Beasley and Greg Oden can be a part of this team.
As for James, he and Erik Spoelstra have both talked about taking it slow, and the most important thing being giving his 100% in the 20-24 minutes a night he’s playing. After a long and exhausting summer, not to mention being the player with the most amount of games over the last three years in the NBA when you include the postseason, James needs some more time getting back. The Heat are expecting him to be even more dominant than in the past if the assumptions about Bosh and Wade’s decline are true, which means limiting himself in terms of playing time during the preseason.
James finished with 10 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists with 5-of-9 from the field. Dwyane Wade, who is looking lighter than before in his attempt to make his knees carry some less weight and hope it helps him in some way added 14 points and 5 rebounds, but he also turned the ball over 5 times.
Chris Bosh will probably be expected to forget his offensively awful NBA finals and get back to what he did very well when Wade was out or resting last season. Bosh finished with 13 points, mostly coming from the line (7-of-7), also adding 8 rebounds.
It doesn’t seem like the usual lineup is going to change – Bosh, Haslem and James in the frontcourt, Wade and Chalmers in the backcourt. The bench? Pretty much the same as last year, only without Mike Miller, which means Shane Battier (14 points on a perfect night from the field, including four three pointers) and James Jones (only 2 points on an awful shooting night, including 0-5 from beyond the arc) will get a bigger chunk of the pie.
However, there is the Michael Beasley question. He didn’t play, but he has looked decent in the few moments he’s had so far in the preseason. Beasley can be the joker, like Chris Andersen was last season, bringing something fresh to a team that looked tired and missing something during their low moments in the playoffs. Consistency and behavior have been a problem in the past, but if the Heat are right about a championship atmosphere setting him straight and on the right path, they’ve made one of the best deals this season for any team.
Greg Oden? Not a huge risk, and not someone they can actually rush into anything. Oden has started practicing, but the most important number for him right now is the inches the tape shows when they measure the swelling in his knees.
Same old Miami Heat? Probably, only with a bit more James and a little less Wade than before. If Beasley plays his part and doesn’t mess up, no one will really notice Wade continuing to decline.