Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It may seem like just yesterday, but it’s been more than four months since the Miami Heat were on stage together celebrating their NBA Championship. But the season is about to begin anew with training camp opening Saturday and the Heat meeting the media Friday.
The Heat is once again a favorite to defend their NBA championship. The team improved itself over the summer by adding free agent shooting guard Ray Allen and swingman Rashard Lewis.
“It’s scary to see, to look in our locker room today and say that we can be better than we were this past season,” NBA MVP Heat forward LeBron James said. “Are we better right now than we were just a couple months ago? Of course not. But we have the potential to be better. We have the potential to be a lot better. That is scary.”
On a side note, Heat Media Day was on Friday. Take a look:
Allen is arguably the greatest three-point shooter in the history of the NBA and will help the Heat force defenses to extend and cover him or pay the price. Lewis is also a streaky shooter from the outside who is a former All-Star in his own right.
The Heat will of course have the Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh back on the court as well. But, Wade will likely be limited at least for the first week of training camp as he continues recovering from offseason knee surgery, according to CBS4 news partner the Miami Herald.
Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said he hopes Wade “won’t miss any regular-season time,” according to the Herald.
Bosh will also be coming off an abdominal injury he suffered during the Eastern Conference semifinals last year against the Indiana Pacers. Bosh will be key to the Heat’s lineup as he is expected to play center this year, much like he did during the Heat’s final run through the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Bosh is expected to be at full strength when camp opens.
NBA Finals hero Mike Miller will also be watched with a very careful eye during training camp. He’s suffered a variety of injuries and decided against major surgery in the offseason to deal with his ailments. Miller may get more of a rest with the addition of Allen and Lewis to the team.
Outside of Miller and Wade, Spoelstra told the Herald the rest of the team should be fully healthy heading into training camp.
The one constant for the Heat is LeBron James. He’s coming off the best season he’s ever played and his first championship in the NBA. His performance in the playoffs, including a near super human game against the Celtics, solidified him as the undisputed greatest player on the planet.
At just 27 years old when the season starts, LeBron is still hungry for another championship to help solidify his legacy in NBA history. James will likely play a hybrid small forward/power forward role for the Heat after greatly improving his post game over the past 18 months.
“He’s not on cruise control, no,” Spoelstra said about James. “He’s as driven a professional as I’ve been around. He understands not only his legacy, but team legacy and the opportunity that this team and organization has. And he savors that. He’s the ultimate competitor.”
James put to bed any complaints of him not being clutch or being able to win the big game last year during the playoffs and NBA Finals. In the Finals, he averaged 28.6 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 7.4 assists per game and was named Finals MVP as well as NBA MVP last year.
Still, the Heat is going to face some stiff competition again this year. The Boston Celtics added some key pieces and youth to its team and the Oklahoma City Thunder will once again be a top contender for the Western Conference championship.
Perhaps the biggest potential foe for the Heat will be the new look Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers went all in and traded for Dwight Howard and added point guard Steve Nash to the lineup while holding onto Metta World Peace (Ron Artest) and Kobe Bryant.
If the Lakers bench can hold up, it will likely be in the Western Conference Finals if it can figure out how to play together. As the Heat showed in year one of the Big Three, sometimes it can take up to a season for everyone to figure out their roles.
For South Florida sports fans, Saturday marks the beginning of another journey they hope will end with another championship in June 2013.