As the Miami Heat traveled up the West Coast to Oregon for a battle of the NBA‘s elite, the defending champions were unsure whether or not LeBron James would play. The reigning league MVP was beaten and battered after a tough overtime loss the night before to the Sacramento Kings. James tweaked his groin and re-aggravated his ankle, making him questionable for the Saturday night duel with the Portland Trail Blazers.
After participating in warmups, James was declared “out” for Miami’s big game, leaving the Heat an underdog. I’m going to be honest, I gave Miami little to no shot against Portland based on Chris Bosh‘s inconsistency and the mystery that has surrounded Dwyane Wade‘s knees all season.
Basically, I was skeptical with James in the lineup and lost almost all hope when he was announced as inactive. The Trail Blazers are a very good basketball team who plays unselfishly and wants to win.
Of course, Miami would make me eat my words and out of all people, Bosh would drop 37 points, including the game-winning 3-pointer with 0.5 seconds left. Many people, myself included, have rode Bosh the moment he made the move to South Beach. His lack of aggression and inconsistent play made him an easy target, especially when considering the fact he has a max contract.
The Heat held on to win 108-107 after LaMarcus Aldridge missed a short jump shot as time expired. The biggest story here is that Miami was able to beat an elite team without the best player on their team and the best in the entire NBA, but this win begs the question: can the Heat win without James?
With every passing day, we move closer to 2014 free agency and the possible relocation of James. I just cringe at the thought of another long and drawn-out television special titled “The Decision 2″, but there is chance that the star will change teams again. So, Saturday night gave a brief glimpse into what it might be like without “King James”, and it didn’t look too bad.
Bosh is still a top tier player who suffers because of James and Wade. He took a total of 26 shots against Portland, a gigantic jump from his season average of 11 shot attempts per game. The power forward could easily average 20-plus points a game, but it is hard to get your own when playing alongside two of the best players in the game.
Let’s say James suffers a season-ending injury tomorrow or leaves South Beach during the offseason. The Heat can still be contenders for a title. The combination of Wade and Bosh surrounded by a group of talented role players is more than enough to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals. I am not saying that Miami doesn’t need James, but they can be successful without him.
Believe me, the Heat are much better off with James on the roster and the court. Pat Riley should do everything in his power to keep the “King” in Miami, I’m just preparing for the worst, which is James signing somewhere else. The truth is, the worst won’t really be that bad, but I’d rather not see what happens if James jumped ship.