With the start of the 2013-14 NBA season rapidly approaching, we thought it only fair to share what makes each team so exciting. Ontologically speaking, all 30 teams deserve our eyeballs this season. Even disastrous lineups still present oodles of plays, personalities, highlights and headaches. Here are five things to keep in mind for each team before flipping the channel.
Next up, a Miami Heat team chasing history before another big decision.
[5 Reasons To Watch: Kings, Lakers, Knicks, 76ers, Bobcats, Cavs, Magic, Warriors, Timberwolves, Nuggets, Clippers, Clippers, Rockets, Bulls, Pistons, Bucks, Nets, Pacers, Wizards, Thunder, Heat, Mavericks, Celtics, Raptors Hawks, Spurs, Trail Blazers, Grizzlies, Suns, Jazz]
They put on a show that’s equivalent to that of an All-Star game, but with all the competitive edge from both sides that’s usually lacking. Shiny things that chill you and leave you wide-eyed and mental perseverance go hand-in-hand when the Miami Heat are involved.
Ever since LeBron James and Chris Bosh aligned forces with Dwyane Wade, the Heat have been the team to watch. They offer so many incentives in watching even mundane midseason games, always offering the off-chance that LeBron and Dwyane hook-up for the next play to add to their expanding highlight reel.
They’re the perfect team to watch for those midseason blues. The Heat could turn a March contest with the Orlando Magic into the game of the night because of the drama they create.
Because they’re the Heat, it’s also natural to see opponents exert more effort than they do any other regular season game when they’re facing the 2-time defending champs. Teams want to beat LeBron and the Heat, and it’ll bring out the best in even the lowliest of opponents.
They have everything you could ask for when it comes to watching basketball. There will usually be at least one or two plays that you’ll see on a Top Ten the next morning, as well as there being the likelihood the game comes down to the final minutes because of the motivation of their opponent each night.
If one were to narrow the Heat to five reasons to catch them on League Pass â€” when they aren’t on national TV â€” this season, there’s plenty to keep even their staunchest critics entertained.
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Fast Break Basketball
It has been christened famously as the “Flying Death Machine” for appropriate reasons.
Because once you turn the ball over against the Heat, they turn into a lethal, well-built machine that launches to heights no other player can reach, before ending the five-seconds-or-less-offense that results in a devastating, highlight-worthy two points.
It’s how Miami’s entire game is run. They’re a frantic team on defense that plays with a controlled panic, constantly switching and keeping the opposition far away from the basket and making passes. The only way to beat the Heat’s defense is to have a lineup composed of elite passers that are immune to the pressure from the likes of athletic intimidators such as LeBron James or Dwyane Wade.
Miami’s defense is primarily made up on players who contain few liabilities on defense. It’s the main reason why Joel Anthony is still actually relevant.
Outside of Anthony, you have an excellent off-ball defender in Mario Chalmers, an improved rim-deterrent in Chris Bosh, elite individual defenders in Wade, James, Shane Battier and Udonis Haslem and weak-side defenders in Chris Andersen. All of these defenders are built for the purpose of creating situations that end up in plays like this:
Use this LeBron dunk against Portland as an another example. Mario Chalmers gets his hand on the ball and it immediately leads to the Heat finding a wide-open LeBron leaking out for a highlight-reel dunk:
Dwyane Wade and LeBron James combined for this alley-oop in their first few games together and it’s probably the last memory I’ll have of the team formerly known as the New Jersey Nets:
Two dribbles. Four seconds. Two points. Miami Heat basketball, y’all.
In the case of Chris Andersen and the Miami Heat, there has never been a player so easily and quickly beloved by his new franchise.
It’s a little bit of everything that has given the city of Miami Bird Flu. It’s the tattoos, the dynamic personality, the arm-flapping, the energy, the loyalty and the never-back-down attitude that screams Miami Heat basketball.
Andersen had only played 31 postseason games in his career leading up to last season’s playoffs, but would play 20 games as a contributor off the bench, making himself extremely useful against the likes of Chicago and Indiana.
On top of averaging 6.4 points and 3.8 rebounds, Andersen led all players in field-goal percentage, shooting a staggering 81 percent. In one six-game stretch between Game 5 against Chicago and Game 5 against Indiana, he didn’t miss a single field-goal attempt, converting all 17 of his shots in that span.
Plus, as long as the Heat have ‘Birdman’ swatting shots and throwing down oop’s courtesy of LeBron James, we’ll always have Shaquille O’Neal uttering the only words that we can tolerate from TNT’s unintelligible mouthpiece.
The Up-And-Down Play of Dwyane Wade
When it comes to the Heat, any narrative that takes place is going to have some investment in LeBron. In the case of the 2013-14 season, the season-long narrative won’t be on LeBron as it has in past years, it will instead be focused on Dwyane Wade and whether or not his health will play a factor in James’ decision next year.
However, it’s a narrative for the masses that get their satisfaction from soap operas, rather than physical displays of the impossible becoming irrelevant. For one, it’s a year away and not even LeBron has an idea of what’s going to happen.
Let’s leave it at that, actually. We’ve done enough obsessing over the future to ruin a few seasons, so why stretch the non-story when there’s already enough to buy your time and attention.
It’s going to be interesting just to know what kind of Dwyane Wade we’ll see, no matter if LeBron’s ultimate decision does somehow fall on Wade’s health. The more intriguing stories are how the 32-year-old Wade approaches this season, how hampered he will be, and how ready he’ll be for the postseason.
Dwyane has worked with trainer Tim Grover since returning to action in August and has looked slimmer than he has in past years. Obviously, the less weight means less stress on the knees, which is ideal for Wade and the knee he blamed for last year’s sluggish championship run.
The Heat are going to need Wade more than ever this season. With teams like Indiana, Chicago and Brooklyn â€” and that’s just the East â€” threatening, following big offseason acquisitions, Miami will need the Dwyane Wade who can consistently put up 20 per game and contribute on both ends.
Most of all, though, we want to see more of this:
LeBron James: Best Basketball Player on the Planet
LeBron has the talent and skill-level to become the best to ever do it, yet possesses the ambition and hunger of an NCAA or D-League player looking to make a roster spot. It’s a rare amalgam of characteristics and a perfect storm of talent that every aspiring athlete should strive for.
What do you get when you combine an above-average shooter, a ferocious defender, an athletic anomaly and a player who dines on criticism and scrutiny?
Well, you get plays like this:
One more for good measure:
Basically what I’m trying to convey is LeBron James is good at this whole basketball thing, and he gives fans of the game â€” if you’re still not a fan of LeBron by this point, don’t hate, appreciate â€” a reason to watch the Miami Heat any night, no matter who they play.
Because for nearly 40 minutes of every Heat game, regular and postseason, you’re going to get a full dose of inarguably the greatest today and arguably the greatest to ever play the game.
Ray Allen Moments
Allen, a plus-95 in what 82games.com defines as clutch moments in “4th quarter or overtime, less than five minutes left, neither team ahead by more than five points,” gave fans in four different cities a fair share of the game-winners and critical shots over a lifetime with the likes of Milwaukee, Seattle and Boston before reaching Miami.
He started it off with this game-winning four-point play against Denver:
Then he hit this less memorable game-winner against San Antonio:
Don’t have the time to go through each video showcasing Ray Allen being Ray Allen? Here’s a five-minute compilation:
At the age of 37 last season, Allen averaged 10.9 points and shot 42 percent from beyond the arc in his first time ever taking on the role as sixth man. He topped the season off in the NBA Finals by shooting 55 percent from beyond the perimeter, including this shot that you may have seen once or twice or ten million times:
What do you think?
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