The Other Side: Miami Heat
The Miami Heat is a walking billboard for what the Washington Wizards want to accomplish: Want to go from putrid to the playoffs? Follow these steps. First, hire a new coach. Next, have your all-star guard with a history of knee troubles spend an entire summer in Chicago with renowned trainer Tim Grover. Play hard, and hello postseason.
The Heat made a dramatic turnaround last season, going from 15 wins to 43 wins, a 28-game turnaround that ranks among the best in NBA history. After two injury-plagued seasons, Dwyane Wade spent a summer with Grover and was reborn as a league's most valuable player candidate. Problem for Miami was that Wade was a one-man show with little to no help and it led to a first-round exit against the Hawks.
Miami didn't make any major improvements this offseason, other than trading for the easily attainable and tradeable Quentin Richardson. That didn't stop the Heat won from winning their first three games, before a fourth-quarter flub contributed to their first loss of the season last night to the Phoenix Suns.
1. Dwyane Wade will be a free agent next summer. Wade is probably the member of the 2010 free agency class most likely to stay in Miami, but that isn't a foregone conclusion. His hometown team, the Chicago Bulls, will go hard after him, and with Wade turning 28 next summer, this might be his last big money contract, making it imperative that he tie himself down with a contender.
2. Miami is counting on Michael Beasley to have a big season. Beasley had a difficult summer that forced him to enter a substance-abuse treatment facility and he recently got caught in another controversy when he photographed asleep on a boat, surrounded by liquor bottles. He is now the starting power forward and the Heat seems pleased with his overall progress.
3. Jermaine O'Neal also spent the summer in Chicago with Grover after considering losing a step after left knee surgery. He showed his improvement early when he became the first player in franchise history to open a season with consecutive games of at least 20 points and 10 rebounds, after dominant performances against Indiana and New York. He suffered a broken nose in practice on Sunday against Chicago but scored 14 points last night against Phoenix.
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