First-Hand Impressions of the 2010-11 Miami Heat

I know I shouldn't draw too many conclusions based on a game against the New Jersey Nets, but I got the chance to see the LeBron James-Dwyane Wade-Chris Bosh Miami Heat in person for the first time this season, and I just wanted to pass along some thoughts based on what I saw.

First, this team is scary good. When it comes to offense, it's not even a matter of guys being "hot". Let me explain -- I've seen LeBron James and the Cavs in person multiple times over the past few years, and I've watched just about every game LeBron has played for about five seasons running. With the Cavs, particularly in the last two seasons, the offense could be described as scary when at least one player other than James got hot, but otherwise, James was the only truly scary factor on the court. Not so with the Heat, who have two players, James and Wade, who can create on their own, and one, Bosh, who is a perfect complement alongside either of those guys. When the Heat have all three on the court and are running pick-and-roll with two of them, they're almost un-guardable.

Defensively, they're even better, because of the recovery speed of Wade and James. As expected, they will definitely have trouble with good big men at times, but after Dwight Howard (on Friday) and Brook Lopez (today) torched them for big first halves, they adjusted both times -- which itself is a testament to Erik Spoelstra's coaching ability.

More impressive than anything on either specific end was just the way the Heat catch fire (sorry about the horrible pun) and in a blink of an eye, a five or six point lead is 15. In Sunday's game, the Heat already had a pretty big lead entering the second half, but the Nets cut it to 13 at 66-53 with 6:43 left in the quarter. Fast-forward four-and-a-half minutes, and it was 79-55. I don't know if anyone keeps this stat, but I'm pretty sure the Heat are going to lead the league this year in runs like that (10-0, 14-2, 17-3... stuff like that). And don't think it was just a LeBron run, or a LeBron/Wade run, or anything like that. Six different Heat players scored in that span, and Miami threw in four steals for good measure.

Again, this was all against the Nets, so take it with a grain of salt, but to put it simply, Miami is good.

One last thing before I get to the pictures. LeBron was booed pretty much every time he touched the ball, but when he did something amazing, he was pretty much cheered. He had a couple of dunks in the first half where it was noticeable, but I really heard it during a rebound in the third quarter. It was one of those old Shawn Kemp style rebounds, where he just easily outjumped everyone and grabbed it angrily with one hand, looking around with a "who dares challenge me for the ball" look. When he reached his apex, there was like this gasp of appreciation from the crowd, a sound that could best be described as "wow, I may hate that guy, but I gotta respect that." That's how LeBron's going to win back fans; not with any Nike commercial, or more talk about The Decision, but just by being the best basketball player on the planet.