Yes, Mike Miller is on the shelf. And yes, they are bringing in Jerry Stackhouse to fill a role on the team. But in South Beach, as Dwyane Wade said this morning, the “band is back together.”
“We’re excited about having the band back together,” Wade said after the two-hour, non-contact session. “It felt great. It was like I was dreaming about it.”
Wade practiced this morning with the Heat, the first time since a hamstring injury and subsequent custody trial. He will be available Tuesday night in Boston against the Celtics and reports no ill effects of the hamstring. I’d love to give you some sort of indication of what the Heat will look like as the team opens play with Wade, but we have no clue. We do know that it will be something to watch, even if it’s watching Boston’s incredible defense figure out how to stifle the attack.
If Paul Pierce is helping Rajon Rondo defend LeBron James at point guard, as he’s expected to do, Rondo may be called in to defend Wade. From how it sounds, the Celtics’ plan is to step back and not let the Heat get in the paint. This follows the Celtics’ traditional model of defense, with a wrinkle.
On the pick and roll, the low post strong-side defender almost always steps up to force off the ball handler, while the screen man’s defender switches back after flashing to recover off the role. Against 95% of the NBA, this is a successful approach, but with the Heat, there’s a problem. Bosh.
Even if you stick the a defender with him and tell him not to leave Bosh, then the weak-side defender is going to have to cross the line to help out if Wade and/or James manages to get past his man at the rim. So that means either Jermaine O’Neal or Shaquille O’Neal are going to have to be limber. Good luck with that. In the mean time, laying off James, Wade and Paul may be the safest option, but these are also much better shooters than the traditional second-to-third options. The Celtics should be aware of this, due to Kevin Garnett’s ability to torch defenses on the 18-foot pick-and-pop. The same principles will be in effect for the Heat Tuesday night, and Chris Bosh will torch the Celtics if they don’t close out.
What a way to start the season.