The Miami Heat, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Indiana Pacers are tied for first in the loss column after the first quarter of the 2015-16 NBA season. The Heat are clinging to an impressive 12-7 start behind their leader and heat-lifer, Dwyane Wade.
Wade has been on fire the last 10 games, averaging 20 points, five assists and five rounds per contest. However, the Heat’s defense has been the real difference this year.
Miami has only allowed 93.3 points per game, the second best mark in the league. Miami’s seven-foot center Hassan Whiteside has been a defensive force in the paint this year, especially as of late. He is averaging five blocks in his last ten starts. He leads the league in blocks at 4.47 blocks per game. The third year center out of Marshall has been a key part of this team. He is averaging 13 points and 10.5 rebounds per contest.
So the real question is, can the Heat make another NBA Finals run without LeBron James on their roster? The Eastern Conference has almost no competition, and the Cavaliers are in a league of their own. Is it possible the Heat could upset the Cavaliers in a Eastern Conference Finals showdown?
Despite what South Beach fans may think, the answer to this question is still no. The Heat have no shot against a healthy Cavaliers team in a seven game series. They do not have the talent nor the experience to keep up with Cleveland, also they simply do not have LeBron James.
However, the Heat have come a long way in the past couple years. They picked up Whiteside and Goran Dragic, while also grabbing the biggest steal in last year’s draft, Justice Winslow from Duke University. There is a lot of future potential for this team. Remember, Kevin Durant is a free agent in 2016. Who knows, maybe Pat Riley can catch lighting in a bottle twice.
Eddie Leonard is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering UConn men's soccer. He tweets @EddieLeonard23.