End of the Road for Big 3 and Heat?

Miami Heat All-Star Dwyane Wade Celebrates his team's NBA Championship last season with some Armand de Brignac ("Ace of Spades") Champagne.  (PRNewsFoto/Armand de Brignac Champagne, Seth Browarnik/WorldRedEye.com)
Miami Heat All-Star Dwyane Wade Celebrates his team’s NBA Championship last season with some Armand de Brignac (“Ace of Spades”) Champagne. (PRNewsFoto/Armand de Brignac Champagne, Seth Browarnik/WorldRedEye.com)

Congratulations, Dwayne Wade.  Celebrate while you can, LeBron James. Enjoy your offseason partying, Chris Bosh. Winning back-to-to back NBA championships is not an easy thing to achieve.

However, you managed to pull it off. Getting to the NBA Finals three times in a row is a great achievement.

But considering the ineptitude of teams in the Eastern Conference the feat wasn’t too far-fetched to reach. Nonetheless, history will judge James and the Heat as perhaps as one of the great teams of this generation.

But the run is over. The handwriting is on the wall. Winning four, five, six and seven titles is not going to happen.  Not in Miami, anyway. No, I am not a hater. I’m not some buster that doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I’m a realist.

James and the Heat have enjoyed a tremendous run in South Beach.

At the end of the day, though, all good things must come to an end. The Heat’s three-year dominance of the league has come full circle and is now complete. It was nice seeing you, Shane Battier. Thanks for coming to the party, Ray Allen.

It’s too bad we must say good-bye, Mike Miller. Udonis Haslem, we’re sorry that we have to part ways with you.

It’s time to move on.  It’s that simple. You’ve enjoyed your moment in the sun. Now it’s time to ride off in the sunset and live happily ever after. Stay put and the Heat won’t even make it to the Eastern Conference Finals next year.

In case you guys missed the memo, it’s called transitioning.

That means that right about now would be the right time to get out of dodge.  You got your rings. It’s time to bid adieu. If you stick around then you will be reminded cruelly about staying at the party too long. Forget about trying to get that last dance in. Go home.

As it stands now, the Heat’s marvelous run has narrowed significantly. Winning a third title is not likely for James and the Heat. I don’t care about the popular opinion that will lead goofy basketball analysts to predict James and the Heat as favorites to hit a triple in championships.

Miami will have to dramatically upgrade their roster in order for that to happen.  And that may not be good enough. That’s because Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls are coming.  And they’ll be coming real hard.

The heart of a lion. Dwayne Wade is still the heart and soul of the Miami Heat. : Photo Credit: Mac Alexander
The heart of a lion. Dwayne Wade is still the heart and soul of the Miami Heat. : Photo Credit: Mac Alexander

Without Rose and several other starters out of the lineup, the Bulls still managed to take the Heat to seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Rose, who missed the entire season after suffering a torn ACL, will be gunning to dominate the way he did during his MVP season a couple of years ago.

And he has not forgotten the fact that it was James and the Heat that showed him and the Bulls to the door out of the postseason the year he was named the best player in the league.

Motivation is everything. Just ask James, who felt humiliation and embarrassment when he was swept in the NBA Finals by the San Antonio Spurs as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Besides having to contend with Rose and the Bulls, James and the Heat will also have to deal with the physically intimidating Indiana Pacers for years to come.

As Indiana center Roy Hibert aptly put it, “We ain’t going anywhere.”

The Pacers took Miami to seven games before bowing out in the Eastern Conference Finals. Stud Paul George, David West and Hibert play the same type of rough and tumble style that the Bulls play, the type of game that gives the Heat matchup nightmares.

In other words, these teams give the Heat fits.

After dominating the regular season, Miami struggled in the postseason with physical teams like the Bulls, Pacers and Spurs. Instead of dominating in the postseason, the Heat got by to their second championship during the Big 3 era by their chinny-chin-chin.

The Heat’s flaws and deficiencies in the half-court game were largely magnified in the playoffs.

The lineup that helped them to three straight NBA Finals trip shouldn’t be around to try to make a fourth go at it. This is still a young man’s game. While operating as key reserves, Miller, Allen and Battier have already seen their best years.

Haslem has been in the mix a long time and can’t hang with the big boys like he did when he first came into the league. And because of all of the inconsistent play, the rash of injuries he’s sustained over the years and the dramatic downturn of his super elite skills, Dwayne Wade has turned into Dwayne Fade.

People have to be honest with themselves about Wade. He can’t bring it on a nightly basis anymore. That’s just the truth. Yes, I know about the three rings he has now.

Yes, I know all about Wade’s lion’s heart. Yes, I am aware that Wade is a future Hall of Famer. It doesn’t matter.

As I mentioned before, this is a young man’s game. Wade’s knees gets creakier and weaker every season. He takes way too many falls. The physicality of the Eastern Conference will continue to bang Wade into submission for the next several years.

If you have 20-20 eye vision, you can clearly see the beating Wade has taken throughout the years has taken their toll on him.

The truth of the matter is that unless Miami can get James the type of bruising talent to surround him with this offseason, the Heat’s reign as the best team in the league is numbered.

Serious changes will have to be made. Champions don’t stay pat. They upgrade. They reload.

That’s the way the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics have always done it.

The Heat did that last offseason when they went out and snapped up Allen from the Celtics. That move paid dividends in the Heat’s championship run this season. If James and Miami want to stay on top, they’ll have to duplicate that recruiting success.

If not, Miami simply won’t make it out of the Eastern Conference next season. And that won’t be a pretty picture.



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