If LeBron James is to win his first NBA championship, it has to be this year, as he may never get a better opportunity.
We all know why the ‘Super Friends’ ended up in South Beach and when LBJ, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh got together, multiple championships were promised.
But for whatever reason, it didn’t happen in year one and now the Miami Heat have begun their second attempt at a title.
Last year it was the Dallas Mavericks who eventually stopped them, but barring a miracle play-off run, the Mavericks will be long into their summer holidays by the time the finals roll around.
Here’s a couple of reasons why I feel the Heat will never have a better chance to win the title than they do now.
The first reason has to be the injury to Chicago’s Derrick Rose and what happens as a result. After such an injury-plagued season, it was only going to be a matter of time before he went down again.
It’s pretty obvious. If you struggle with health during the regular season, once the play-offs begin and the intensity goes up a few notches, it’s pretty much odds-on you’ll pick up another injury.
The only surprise about Derrick Rose’s injury was that it happened in the first game and with a torn ACL, he not only misses the rest of the play-offs but is also denied the chance to play in this summer’s Olympics.
Without Rose, the Bulls are still a good team, but without their leader it’s only a matter of time before their season is ended.
I’ve seen this before, most recently in 2009, when the defending champion Boston Celtics entered the play-offs without Kevin Garnett.
I was impressed the Celtics were able to push the Orlando Magic to seven games in the Eastern Conference Semi-finals, but I knew a championship without Garnett was out of the question.
Ironically, that was the year that Derrick Rose burst onto the scene as he gave the Celtics fits in the first round of those play-offs, arguably the best first-round series ever played.
Without Rose, the Bulls are on borrowed time. Unless the Rose injury has thrown them off track, they shouldn’t have a problem with Philadelphia but it will be tougher in the next round.
If the Bulls were to face Atlanta, I think they could get past the Hawks, but I would fancy Boston to beat them if the Celtics get that far.
So what about Miami? Well, New York shouldn’t be a problem, especially after Amar’e Stoudemire’s silly hand injury, sustained after their Game 2 defeat on Monday night.
I had hoped for a classic Heat-Knicks series, but the Knicks seem intent on entering a self-destruct mode.
Already without Jeremy Lin and having lost Iman Shumpert to injury in Game 1, Stoudemire risked missing games after supposedly smashing the glass door on a fire extinguisher.
Just say the Heat take care of the Knicks soon, do you think that either Orlando or Indiana will have them worried? Of course not!
So there you go, take care of Knicks, easy semi-final match-up awaits and then it’s either the short-handed Bulls, Celtics or Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals. I don’t think Miami will be losing sleep about facing any of those teams.
The path leading to the NBA Finals is wide open and only a serious injury or a bout of complacency will not see Miami back for a second year in a row.
And this leads me on to my second reason. While the Heat are pretty much assured an effortless route to the finals, it’s not so close out West.
Over there, the path to the finals is going to be a lot tougher and any one of a number of teams could make it to the finals.
Just look at the Oklahoma Thunder, one of the favourites to progress. They are currently engaged in an enthralling series with the defending champion Dallas Mavericks.
Whoever wins this series will likely face the Los Angeles Lakers in the next round and then most likely the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Finals.
That’s three rounds of basketball that potentially could go the distance each time. That’s a much harder route to the finals than the Heat are likely to face and that will no doubt work in Miami’s favour as the teams out West beat each other up.
Therefore at this moment in time the Heat have no excuse not to win the Championship. Fate has given them this opportunity and if the Heat don’t cash in this season, they will only have themselves to blame.
Bron, we know how much you want a title, so don’t mess up what could be the best chance you’ll ever get.
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