If the Miami Heat are
worried about Andrew Bynum joining
an Indiana Pacers team that has already shown an ability to challenge them, the
Heat aren’t showing it.
They’re acting like the Pacers’ acquisition of Bynum,
a player they reportedly pursued as well, means nothing in the chase for
Eastern Conference supremacy. Perhaps it’s easy to feel that way when you still
have LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to lean on, not to mention Chris “Birdman” Andersen and even a
getting-stronger-every day Greg
Oden sharpening his skills. Whether they are just playing the
role or not is a question that won’t be answered unless the Heat and Pacers
square off in the playoffs.
But there are questions that might bother the Heat come Playoff time:
Can Dwyane Wade be Dwyane Wade again for an entire Eastern
Conference final? The Heat can get through the rest of the East with Wade on a
maintenance plan or having games where he’s an above average player. It will
take an extra game here or there, which you never like, but that’s not a
problem against any two teams not named Indiana put together.
Against Indiana, Miami will need six or seven games of the
future Hall of Fame Wade to get the job done. Bynum neither helps nor hurts in
Can Chris Bosh continue to be that helpful omnipresence, having
a hand in most wins even if that hand’s not doing what stat-minded fans and
media wish it were? Bosh draws Hibbert and Bynum out of the middle with his
range, then makes them work and getting up and down the floor.
The Heat knows it’s about the three-point line, both defending
it and scoring from behind it. If the Heat’s snipers misfire, that lane gets
packed by opponent who will either go for a rebound or tipping the ball back in
Hibbert hurts no team more than he does the Heat, yet
still, the Heat find ways around and over him. Bynum’s Hibbert Lite at this
Most ridiculous is the idea Indiana signed Bynum to keep him
from the Heat. Although the Heat has nothing against height, it already has a
big guy with unreliable lower limbs, one who showed tremendous determination
just to get back to being able to take the floor. Greg Oden embodies the diligence,
grit and good citizenship the Heat likes to think of as its franchise
hallmarks. Oden might not be a problem for opponents the way it hopes, but the
Heat knows he won’t be a problem for them in the locker room or after midnight
and if he stays healthy, he will be an effective role player which could be a
good reliver to Bosh or even a sidekick at the low post.
Miami-Indiana showdon in the East Finals but both teams must not take other
opponents easily especially the Chicago Buls, Atlanta Hawks and the
underachieving teams in New York, the Knicks and Brooklyn.
Whatever happens in the
elimination round expect a great showdown in the Playoffs regardless of the
records of the other East teams.
--- Jay-R U. Bayon-on with reports from NBA.com
Heat don't mind Bynum's signing with Indiana
Reviewed by Phil Newsome