Wade Healthy = Brutal Predictability
Aside from that loss the Heat are 4-0, LeBron looks like he’s gotten better, (which is ludicrous) and Dwayne Wade is fully healthy for the first time in quite a while. The Heat had a tremendous offseason, highlighted by prying Ray Allen away from their fiercest rival and biggest obstacle. Allen, despite his age, is the perfect compliment to the otherworldly duo of James/Wade. In the past the Heat have relied on players such as Mike Miller, Mario Chalmers, and Shane Battier to hit open three’s. While they each did their fair share in last season’s title run, it’s safe to say none of them hold a candle to Allen, the NBA’s all-time 3-point leader.
Chris Bosh is also healthy and Norris Cole is a year older which gives them solid depth at PG. All of this is important, but nothing makes more of a difference than Wade’s excellent health. This will be the most boring and uneventful season in recent memory if he can stay 100% through the playoffs. Miami outclassed OKC in last year’s finals with a banged up Bosh, a banged up Wade, and a severely fatigued LeBron. Now they’ve added Allen, gotten healthy, and the East has crumbled all around them. On top of all of that, Wade now understands that LeBron is the best player in the league, and allows him to get his without getting in his way. All while still producing excellent numbers and being the best "Plan B" in the history of human existence. I digress.
Derrick Rose will not be back from his knee injury at the earliest until February, and even then isn’t likely to make a major impact. The Pacers got the news today that Danny Granger is out for three months, and the loss of Darren Collision has made them a less explosive team offensively. The Celtics were old at the start of last season, and now they’re just riding on fumes without part of their big 3. I’m almost positive the Hawks have an agreement with the NBA to be either the 4 or 5 seed every season on the understanding that they won’t make noise in the playoffs. The Knicks look to have improved from last season, but they’re not close to the level of Miami. Neither are the Nets. In short, the Eastern Conference Finals may as well be held tomorrow, because the Heat will cruise to the finals through that rag tag bunch. Healthy or not.
What’s even more troubling is the James Harden debacle, which significantly weakened the West’s best hope. Whatever reason Sam Presti (cough* greedy money grubbing bastard cough*) had for trading Harden, it was a terrible move that fans in OKC will never forgive him for. One would have to assume at this point that the Lakers will be favorites even though the additions of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, coupled with Mike Brown’s ineptitude as a coach, don’t necessarily inspire a great deal of confidence. Beyond them you have the Spurs who are always a threat, but still rely on an old Tim Duncan a bit more than I’m comfortable with. OKC will still be very good, and I have a feeling Kevin Durant will end up having one of those “revenge” seasons. One where he takes his frustrations of losing the Finals (and his brother Harden) out on every single team he faces, and compiles outrageous stats in the process. The problem is without Harden off the bench, they now lack the killer blow needed. If they couldn’t do it last season with Harden, they certainly won’t be able to without him. The return of Phil Jackson to the Lakers (which I don’t find to be unthinkable) is the only way we end up having a competitive season.
The NBA has proven in the past that it can maintain high levels of fan interest during a dynasty, but this seems different. Without any true equal, the Heat are only fighting a battle against injury and apathy. This is bad news for NBA fans everywhere, aside from the geographical area where LeBron took his talents.