Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don't Lie thinks the Heat have a reasonably good chance to match a team he knows well -- the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, who won 72 games. Dwyer has the 2010-11 Heat finishing with 70 wins: "They might, as those Bulls did, have the two best players in the NBA. I know you fawn over Kobe, and that the media fawns over Kevin Durant, but in terms of pure production -- in terms of putting points on the board in whatever fashion and stopping the other team from putting points on the same board -- LeBron and Wade are a cut above ... When I think of the 1996 Bulls, I think of a struggle ... Miami will have the same struggles this year, and it won't be pretty basketball most nights out. But I think they can pull 70 off. I really do."
What options will Pat Riley explore if Mike Miller misses significant time and the thumb injury lingers into 2011? Miller's value to the team extends further than being just a marksman off the bench. His ability to tread water at the point gave Erik Spoelstra the freedom to field a big, prolific lineup of versatile scorers at crunch time. If Miller isn't available, Spoelstra has James and Wade, who are more than comfortable as de facto 1s. There's also Eddie House, who held down minutes at the point for an elite Celtics team. Contingencies aside, Miller's absence makes the Heat a more limited squad when the game matters most.
Speaking of House, Ira Winderman has this story from House's debut last night in Atlanta: "Before the game, Eddie House strode to the scorer’s table and vowed he would convert his first 3-point attempt. With 57 seconds left in first quarter, he did. We told him we would 'pop our collars' out of respect."
Zach Lowe of The Point Forward on Miller: "Ultimately, this injury is likely to be remembered as a small blip on the way to 60-something wins; no injury outside the Wade-James-Bosh trio could swing the Heat’s win total by more than one or two. But it’s a reminder that this team is fragile and shallow, and that an NBA season is always one injury away from being flipped on its head."
Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm on Dwyane Wade: "He’s already proven himself. Wade has done everything we want of our athletes. Gave their all at a young age. Sacrificed his body. Became a positive, active force in the community ... Won a ring. Hungered for more. Demanded his team improve. Re-signed for less money in the city that drafted him. Worked to convince free agents to come to his team. He’s everything we’ve shredded LeBron for and yet still we fail to embrace him fully, and even carry some small degree of disdain for him because…what? His boss is a good salesman?"
John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com on the emerging Sunshine State rivalry: "Much has already been made of the offseason sniping back and forth between the Orlando Magic and the Miami Heat, but the reality now is that the two hated, heated rivals could be very good for one another this season. With both teams clearly being among the NBA’s elite, they know that the likelihood is that it will take at least 60 wins to capture the Southeast Division title."
Over at Jock-O-Sphere, Ryan Corazza suggests that LeBron James' decision to retweet the hate was "straight out of the Don Draper handbook: 'If you don't like what they're saying about you, change the conversation.'" Another Draper chestnut that might speak to James? "Change is neither good nor bad, it simply is."
The Onion rolls out its understated list of "NBA Teams to Watch" for the upcoming season. The Onion on the Miami Heat: "Gotta love those black and red uniforms ..."