The (Not-so) big three

Standard

Flashback to July 8, 2010. A small boys and girls club hosted one of the most controversial TV specials of all time, the second LeBron said “I’m taking my talents to South Beach and joining the Miami Heat”. That led to a Vegas-Caliber unveiling of Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade all on the same team. Predictions, (Not one, not two) magazine covers, interviews, fanfare, merchandise, and much more were created and embraced.

Flash forward to June 12, 2011. The Dallas Mavericks took an NBA Finals right in front of all of Miami to see. Bust? It was looking like 2012 was the year instead. The big 3 would prevail, as always.

Flash forward to December 25th, 2011. The NBA was back. Lockout shortened, but back. But this time, it wasn’t around the Heat. It was lob city, New York and other teams sharing the spotlight, and sometimes stealing it from the big three. They were fine, and expected huge seasons from everyone.

Flash forward to June 21, 2012. Turns out, they didn’t need a big three. They just needed a big one, as LeBron led them to a title. But this title didn’t feel too real. The season was a good two months short, and it didn’t seem like domination in the regular season. Some people wouldn’t accept Miami’s championship until they one won in a full season with some domination.

Skip forward exactly one year to today, and we can say this season was dominated by the Miami Heat. Owned by them. But it wasn’t a big three effort. It was LeBron and co. Bosh had a mediocre-at-best season, and Wade was very on and off. Mike Miller and “Birdman” stepped up, along with Ray Allen and Mario Chalmers showing more of an on court presence.

So now, it’s all over. The next NBA game isn’t until October. Which gives us some time to ponder a couple things. First things first, as I said before, this was not a big three performance. It was LeBron and Co. LeBron led the entire team in points, steals, rebounds and assists. His 596 points in the playoffs were second to none anywhere. Bosh performed mediocre, and his point average is steadily decreasing. Wade is seeming older and more injury prone by the day.

This finals has lead people to believe the Heat are the next dynasty. However, I don’t believe that. Why? Because a team simply cannot revolve around a single player. Unless the big three play like they did when they were hired to become the big three, it simply doesn’t work that way. LeBron can’t hold this team up forever, and a huge reason they won was because the supporting cast all stepped up big time. The big three are not being big enough right now for the Heat to become something Jordan-like.

Many people are asking if this team can be compared to the Bulls of the Jordan era. I don’t know if it can. While this team is performing, so much question surrounds them. Will LeBron stay? Will D-Wade retire? Will Bosh step up again? Will Ray Allen leave? Was Miller just a fluke? Is there too much centered around James? Can Birdman play better in the regular season? Is Chalmers good enough? I can think of many more. This team was so dominant this season, but it just doesn’t seem comparable yet. 2 titles. While that’s good, they’re still under the Spurs. LeBron isn’t Jordan yet. He very well can be. But there are simply too many questions around this team.

This team was a guarantee in 2011. They are no longer like that. The only player who is playing like their contract is paying them is LeBron. It’s no longer a matter of dominance. Now, it’s a matter of keeping them at the same level. If somebody slips, that affects everything.

Now don’t get me wrong, the Heat will be sighted in the playoffs many years following this one. LeBron could pass Jordan, but he needs help. Celebrate now Miami about your title. But if you don’t get the people you paid to be big to play like it, watch out. Because I can see Oklahoma City in the horizon.

Advertisements

Nothing special is happening in our nation’s capital

Standard

28-29.

.229.

478.

Those are some interesting numbers for the Washington Nationals this  year. 28-29, their record. .229, their team batting average. 478, the amount of hits they’ve given up this year.

Yeah, somethings askew. After last year’s game 5 meltdown, Davey Johnson uttered the words, “World Series or bust”. It’s leaning towards the latter. In the early offseason, the Nats were a general pick for World Series champs in 2013. They were looking even better, with Denard Span and Rafael Soriano coming along for the rid, leaving the Nats with a great center fielder and a great closer. Opening day was marvelous. They won 2-0, as Strasburg pitched 7 stellar innings, and Bryce Harper hit two home runs. And then.

Then, it got hard, fast. 15-0 loss? Check. Losing to the Mets? Check. Injuries? Check. And that’s where we stand right now. Here are some reasons for Nats fans to be depressed, and then some reasons to be optimistic.

Why to be depressed: Bryce Harper is showing he can be injury prone, with knee and face injuries after playing too hard, crashing into multiple walls in California, and swelling in his knee has gone up. Jayson Werth is hurt, again, and he has missed 28 games already. Wilson Ramos has been gone for 30 games. Stephen Strasburg could be showing he’s destined for more time on the disabled list, and let’s not forget that the Nats’ bats have not heated up. At all. They average  3.46 runs a game. They are only better than Chicago and Miami. Ouch.

Why to be optimistic: Jayson Werth returns tomorrow, so that provides serious leadership not only in the clubhouse, but also in the games. He was crushing during rehab. Bryce Harper, after he gets back, should be returning to his incredible pace, and is pretty darn good in general. Ross Detwiler should be back in a week or two, and Nathan Karns has stepped up. Stephen Strasburg will pitch wednesday, so he seems to be okay. The Nats have been missing some of their big bats, so they will be a glad addition. Jordan Zimmermann has really come into his own, and is playing like an ace. LaRoche and Zimmerman have shaken off their cold starts, playing well now at the plate and in the field. (Zimmerman has reduced his errors a ton). The final thing to be happy about if you are a Nats fan is that the schedule is getting easier. Take a look at the april and may schedule comparing the Nats and Braves.

HARD TEAMS FOR THE NATS (Series): Cincinnati,  Atlanta,  St. Louis, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Detroit, LA Dodgers,  San Fransisco, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Atlanta. HARD SERIES FOR NATS: 12.

HARD TEAMS FOR THE BRAVES: Philadelphia, Washington, Pittsburgh, Washington, Detroit, San Fransisco, LA Dodgers, Washington. HARD SERIES FOR BRAVES: 8

The Nats’ schedule gets a lot easier, very soon. Like, tomorrow, starting a stint with the Mets and Twins, and they won’t see a “tough team” for another 2 weeks, and then it gets much easier come July. The Braves’ schedule gets harder around July.

I can’t tell you to be worried or optimistic for the rest of the season, but what I will tell you is this. The Nats have a great chance to win it all, and they have a great chance to miss the playoffs. We’ll just have to find out.