Now this may be pre-emptive to say, especially considering the Nets look to be loading up, the Bulls will still be great and the Oklahoma City Thunder are still the best team in the West, but should the Heat meet the Lakers in the dream Finals matchup fans have been wanting for nearly a decade, Miami will be in for a much tougher outing.
It is quite well known that there are 3 main weaknesses on this championship team; the point guard position, the center position and the bench.
Thus far the Heat have successfully overcome their slight hole at the 1 because Wade and James can both play and guard the position. Mario Chalmers emerged as a much more consistent player in his second season running this superstar team and Norris Cole has provided a real kick off the bench.
The bench issue was quelled, particularly in the latter games when Chalmers, Battier, Cole and Miller locked in.
Even the center problems were overcome by playing James at the 4, Bosh at the 5 and spacing the floor, leaving the Celtics and OKC big men virtually obsolete.
The Lakers may be the only team in the league that can fight this new Miami philosophy.
Because of their incomparable size, their rebounding, their post presence, the emphasis of Miami to remove these players from the court may not work. We saw the Lakers take the only matchup between the two early this year. Given Chris Bosh did not play, but Miami employed their small lineup tactics and the Lakers ate them alive in the paint.
The Heat have no one that can guard Bynum, and even if they stop him, there’s another more gifted 7fter waiting along side. If that wasn’t enough they’ve got Kobe Bryant on the wing, Steve Nash in the middle and you throw those four together and it’s a real championship contender.
Gasol, Bryant and Nash are all on the wrong side of 30. The latter are on the wrong side of 33. They are virtually fighting for their last shot. This will most likely be the final year of their true ability to contend. If Kobe is 34 going on 35, Nash is closing in on 40 and Gasol isn’t far behind, the increasing athletic league will overcome them.
But if the Lakers can get to the Finals, they will offer the greatest mismatch and I believe the greatest challenge to the Miami Heat going back to back.