5 Improvements Miami Heat Must Make to Three-Peat

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Improvements Defending Champions Must Make to Win Third Straight Title

Miami
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The Miami Heat are roughly a month and a half away from starting their campaign for a third straight NBA Championship. Last season, they were able to overcome rebounding and low-post woes to defeat the San Antonio Spurs for the title. This season will be a much different beast as free agency is breathing down GM Pat Riley’s neck.

The champs are like a science experiment. Take three superstars, surround them with battle-tested veterans dying for a ring and add young talent with whatever money is left over. The goal of this experiment: to win multiple championships -- no other outcome is accepted.

Three years have come and gone with three NBA Finals appearances and two titles. The success and results of the South Beach experiment are very good, but a monkey wrench has been thrown in and the factors have slightly changed.

At the end of this season, Dwyane Wade, Lebron James and Chris Bosh all have the option to opt out of their contracts and join the free agency carousel. The only cure to stop Miami and the “Big 3” from an early and bitter demise is to win a third straight championship.

Since the beginning of the “Big 3” era in South Beach, nothing but a title has been expected or accepted. Miami set a new precedent when they signed three max contracts. Winning it all is the only option the Heat face, but they showed signs of weakness as both the Indiana Pacers and Spurs pushed them to the brink.

The goal has not changed, but the stakes have. Three-peat, and the “Big 3” live for another season, but lose and they are a thing of the past. If Miami wants to win a third straight and keep their superstar triangle intact, they must make these improvements.

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5. Perimeter Defense

Defense
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Danny Green lit up the Heat defense as he set a record for 3-pointers made in the Finals. The Pacers even gave them a bit of trouble from long range. The biggest problem was the lack of communication and rotation on defense.

Green hit shot after shot because Miami kept helping off of him. The defender should have stayed right on him, knowing a drive and dish was coming. The Heat will have to communicate much better and use their heads. If a guy has five 3-pointers in the first half, do not help off him.

Miami is an incredibly athletic team and have strong defensive players. The defensive rotation must be quicker and spot on. The Spurs and Pacers proved that Miami’s rotation was slow. The perimeter defense must improve for the defending champs.

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4. Bench Production

Bench
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Many great teams also have great bench contributions. Miami has not received much bench contribution. James, Wade and Bosh combined for about 75 percent of the teams points. Mario Chalmers and Ray Allen combine together for a majority of the remaining 25.

Too many times, Miami has seen games lost because of the reliance on the “Big 3”. Superstars have bad performances once in awhile and they need help from their teammates. If the Heat can get an average of 20 points out of their bench this season, it will be incredibly difficult to defeat them. Solid bench production will all but guarantee another title in South beach.

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3. Inside/Post Game

Inside
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The Heat offensive is based on fast-break points and one-on-one type plays. They really do not have a go-to in the post. Now and then, James will post up if a smaller defender is guarding him. Miami needs a strong and consistent post player.

Bosh has the ability to be a solid post player, but rarely does he play down low. The pick and rolls, drive and dishes work for Miami, but a strong post game will help spread the floor and open up shooters.

A strong post presence will help the Heat against teams like the Pacers and Spurs. Miami really struggled in the post with these two teams. The problems in the post also effected other aspects of the game, such as perimeter shooting and the dribble drive.

I would look for Miami to develop a stronger post presence and try to get Bosh to move away from his jump shooting tendencies, and toward a low-block game.

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2. Rebounding

miami
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The biggest weakness for the Heat last season was rebounding. They ranked dead last at only 38.6 rebounds per game and it was exploited by the Pacers and Spurs in the playoffs. Their leading rebounder was James at eight per game.

Miami signed 7-footer Greg Oden and will return Chris “Birdman” Andersen, but that is not exactly a solid improvement. Andersen is not a stellar rebounder, and Oden has not proved anything but the fact he is fragile.

The Heat need to see Udonis Haslem and Bosh improve on rebounding as well as Shane Battier. It needs to be a team effort every possession and every player needs to box out. Miami cannot depend on one or two players to grab every board.

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1. Chris Bosh

Bosh
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

As a member of the “Big 3”, Bosh has not actually held up to his part of the deal. He was virtually non-existent in the 2013 playoffs, where he average only 12 points and seven rebounds per game.

Bosh is a crucial part of the Heat and their success. His ability to hit an 18-footer gives James and Wade the space they need to thrive. Bosh’s ball handling is also fantastic for his size and gives Miami another threat on the floor.

In my opinion, the biggest problem with Bosh is that he is suffering from an identity crisis. At times, he seems to think he is Ray Allen and he lives behind the arc. Bosh needs to toughen up and get inside. He is Miami’s biggest post threat, but he rarely posts up.

It is up to Bosh to better position himself on the floor. He should be posting up somewhere between the elbow and baseline. If Bosh puts himself in scoring positions, he will get the touches he is looking for and be a bigger contributor offensively.

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  • Al Williams

    Without reading this article, my guess for the Heat to improve is 1st CHRIS BOSH improving! 2nd is REBOUNDING the basketball, 3rd is bench production to give James, Wade, and BOSH to take quality breathers, 4th has to be getting rim protection, and 5th could be healthier D. Wade?