Reason 3: Miami’s ‘Big Three’ in Season 2 / How will LeBron respond after NBA Finals struggles?
Two of the main story lines heading into the 2011-12 NBA season focus on the Miami Heat in some way, shape or form. The first – how will the ‘Big Three’ of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh fair in the team’s second go-around? After acquiring both James and Bosh prior to last season, the Heat finished with a 58-24 record, the number two seed in the East, and a trip to the NBA Finals. You know the story though; the Dallas Mavericks ousted them in six games. Now months later from the defeat, the Heat are ready to put together a season that ends in a championship. The sting that Finals defeat left in their hearts should drive this team to not only be better in 2012, but great. The ‘Big Three’ will get theirs. The Heat will show up in the Eastern Conference Finals once again, and it’ll be interesting how things shake up. Expect the Heat to get through the East, but a number of athletic, young teams (Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder) in the West could provide problems again in the championship. The addition of Shane Battier gives the Heat a lockdown defender, a proven roll player, and a shooter that can hit open the shots freed up from James and Wade. He’s not a big-time name, but expect this move to be one of the more important of 2011-12. It will lift Miami to their first NBA title since 2006.
One of the other main headlines includes James’ struggles in the Finals, particularly in the fourth quarter. Again we all know the story; LeBron averaged under 18 points per game and frequently struggled in the final period. He hasn’t hidden from the criticism though, and he’ll be the first one to tell you he underperformed on the game’s biggest stage (see the interview below). The clip offers some insight from The King himself on the Finals and ‘The Decision’. With time to now reflect, time to heal (both physically and mentally), I feel as if LeBron obviously will play like he has something to prove. Not only will he continue to fill up the stat sheet, but I truly see himself taking his game to another level (if that’s possible). The burn of defeat brings out the best in most, and this could be another prime example. Look for James to come out of the gate running, guiding the Heat (along with Wade) to a red hot start to the season. And if LeBron gets another chance in the Finals, I’d be willing to bet the same results won’t be likely this time around. There’s no more being the ‘villain’ for LBJ either.