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John Schuhmann

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Can Miami's new trio get along on the court as well as they did on Team USA?
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Play in post could be key to success for Heat's new trio


Posted Jul 9 2010 3:37PM

The Miami Heat's new big three will sell a ton of tickets and have people talking (and writing) about them all season. The Heat should be the favorites in the Eastern Conference, and they've got a great shot (five great shots actually) at breaking the franchise record of 61 wins set back in 1996-97.

But when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh step on the floor together, how exactly is it going to work?

After being the focus of their former team's offense for years, this trio will have to learn how to adjust to playing off the ball.

James accounted for 44 percent of the Cavs' points last season via his own points and assists, while Wade accounted for 40 percent of the Heat's points. They're each used to having the ball in their hands and controlling the offense. Neither is used to being the guy a teammate looks to when he is double-teamed nor is either player a great 3-point shooter.

It won't be an easy adjustment, but they've had some experience with it in All-Star games and international competition. They will each create opportunities for each other, but neither will flourish in catch-and-shoot situations. They'll be better at using openings for easier drives to the basket.

James is one of the best passers in the league and even if he's not the Heat's starting point guard, it's very likely that he will be playing a lot of minutes there (which should make for some interesting matchups). Miami's most used lineup just might be James, Wade, Mike Miller (who's expected to be the Heat's next addition), Bosh and a center to be named later.

No matter who he's matched up with, James will almost always be bigger and stronger than his opponent. In order to take full advantage of that, he needs to get comfortable in the low post. Wade has developed a low-post game over the years, but James has not. Now's the time to make a change.

The low post may be the best place on the floor to put a great passer. With James in the post against a smaller defender, he'll get extra attention and, with their heads turned, the defense will be at more of a disadvantage than if he had the ball at the top of the key. So if he's got shooters around him, James will have the ability to pick the defense apart with his passing.

Bosh is not a low-post big. He prefers to get the ball at the elbow and works from there. And it's unlikely that the Heat are going to add much of a low-post presence at center with nothing but minimum deals to offer.

The Heat will also run the pick-and-roll often. Bosh is an excellent pick-and-pop option, as he can shoot well out to 17 feet is also good off the dribble.

It will be important for Miami to find a center who can finish at the rim, because both James and Wade will draw extra attention when they come off high screens, providing opportunities under the basket for both the screener and the weak-side big man.

Miller, if added, will be an excellent addition to the big three. As one of the best shooters in the league, he will flourish in catch-and-shoot situations and is an unselfish passer and a good rebounder for his size.

Still, the Heat will need even more depth in their backcourt. Mario Chalmers is the only other player on the roster, and while he's a talented combo guard, he's neither a great distributor (averaging just 5.4 assists per 40 minutes last season) nor a great shooter (32 percent from 3-point range).

Keyon Dooling, who has played for the Heat and lives in the area, would be a great addition. Dooling, who was waived by New Jersey in June, had injury issues last season. But, he shot 40 percent from 3-point range in two seasons with the Nets. As either Miami's starting point guard or as a key reserve, he would help space the floor and make defenses pay for double-teams.

A center to play alongside Bosh has to be Pat Riley's next priority. Aside from being a good finisher, Miami's center must defend the rim because although Bosh is tall and athletic, he's never been much of a defensive presence in the paint. Last season's Raptors, with Bosh manning the paint, were one of the worst defensive teams in recent history.

On the perimeter, the Heat should be fine defensively. Neither Wade nor James is a terrific one-on-one defender, but paired up, they will create havoc in the passing lanes and find themselves with plenty of fast-break opportunities.

This is going to work. But in order for it to produce championships, James, Wade and Bosh will all have to make adjustments. If James can develop a post game, Wade can become a better 3-point shooter, Bosh can become more of a defensive presence and Pat Riley can cobble together a complementary supporting cast, we may have a new NBA dynasty.

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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