Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Perhaps the biggest weakness during the Miami Heat’s run to the 2011 NBA Finals was a lack of depth. Based on the first two weeks of the NBA regular season, consider that problem solved.
Last season, the Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh carried the Heat nearly to an NBA championship.
But all three superstars had to play heavy minutes because outside of the Big Three, the team didn’t have much to speak of coming off the bench.
Through a few new players added to the roster and a more wide-open approach to the offense, the Heat has showed off possibly the most complete team in the NBA.
Plus, the Heat still have another wing player and a possible center still waiting to come back from injury.
The Heat’s defense was bolstered in the off-season with the addition of guard/forward Shane Battier and the healthy return of power forward Udonis Haslem.
Both Battier and Haslem have come off the bench to help give Bosh, Wade, or James a rest.
Haslem is averaging 8 points and 10.3 rebounds per game on the young season. Plus, James Jones who is averaging just 6 points per game is shooting 48 percent from behind the 3-point line.
In addition, the Heat finally have some point guard depth with the improved play of veteran Mario Chalmers and the high-octane rookie Norris Cole adding some punch off the bench.
Deeper on the bench, the Heat struck gold with Terrel Harris. He’s turned into a rebounding machine and is averaging 5.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game in roughly 15 minutes of play per game.
The Heat have another weapon set to come back from injury any day now in Mike Miller; and the team may have another key cog to come if center Eddy Curry can get back into game shape and contribute some minutes each night.
The Heat will still go as far as the Big Three can carry them. But unlike last season, the Big Three can have confidence that the role players are much better prepared to carry the team if the situation arises.