These Are the Five Most Interesting Story Lines Heading Into the Second Half for the Miami Heat

These Are the Five Most Interesting Story Lines Heading Into the Second Half for the Miami Heat
Photo by Keith Allison / Flickr
While most of Miami was focused on the annual end-of-season pants-pooping by the Miami Dolphins, Heat players were slowly picking themselves off the ground and recovering from their own early-season trousers-soiling. When December began, the Miami Heat was one of the worst teams in the NBA. Since then, the team has rallied to a comfortable position as the sixth seed in the NBA's Eastern Conference. Despite the walloping Milwaukee gave the Heat last night, things seem to have markedly improved.

Justise Winslow did well against the Bucks and is a whole different player this year. The young guys are generally performing, rotations have stabilized, and Dwyane Wade is playing his ass off as his career reaches its final days. The second half of the season should be quite interesting for a team most pronounced dead after 20 games.

Here are five story lines we see dominating the final months of this zombie Miami Heat season, once lifeless, but now looking very vital.

1. How long will "Point Justise" be a thing? Since Goran Dragic went down with a knee injury, Winslow has been on a ridiculous hot streak. Filling in as point guard — a spot he rarely occupied prior to this season — Winslow has looked more than comfortable.

We'll see what happens when Dragic returns, but Winslow has proven he's a bona fide piece of the Heat's future plans at the position. He may not look like your traditional point guard, but you can't argue with the results. The longer Winslow thrives, the likelier it is the Heat trades Dragic.

2. Will Dwyane Wade's retirement tour have a happy(ish) ending? So far, Wade's last season in Miami has gone about as well as could have been expected when he announced he would return one more time. The worry was Wade would limp around the court looking like a shell of his former three-time champion self, but that hasn't been the case.

Wade has been a solid contributor and a reassuring voice. He's provided guidance for the young guns: Winslow, Josh Richardson, and Bam Adebayo. Moving forward, the hope is Wade can stay healthy and see out the season.

Heat fans known one bump of the knee can send things sideways for Wade. No one wants to see the greatest Heat player ever end his career in a suit.

3. How much will Chris Bosh be around the Heat this year? While Bosh sitting courtside has nothing to do with the team's performance, it's an intriguing story line. Now that he and Miami seem on good terms following his medical retirement and subsequent bitterness toward the team, it'll be fun to see if Bosh has in mind a future with the organization.

Bosh is forever a huge part of Miami Heat history. He could be an enormous piece in its future. Adding Bosh to the fold would trump anything that goes on in the playoffs this season.

4. Does Pat Riley indicate he'll join Wade and Udonis Haslem in retirement after this season? Last week, a report regarding Riley's future led to some raised eyebrows. It confirmed what many assumed: Erik Spoelstra is the most likely candidate to take over when Riley decides to retire to his Malibu beach house. But for the report to come out in the middle of the season was odd. Who was talking about it?

Spoelstra just notched his 500th win as head coach. He could continue coaching, take Riley's role as decision-maker, or keep both titles. Watch for hints in June. Or down the road.

5. Does the Heat make any major moves before the trade deadline?  The NBA trade deadline is fast approaching (February 7). The Heat has too many 20-minute players. It makes sense for the team to unload one or two guys. Likeliest to see his way out of Miami is shooting guard Wayne Ellington, who would merit a decent pick in return. Ellington is a sharpshooter with enormous three-point talent, but has become a bad fit for the overstaffed Heat.

Also possible, but far less likely, is a trade of Hassan Whiteside. Bam Adebayo is the future at center for Miami, and the Heat would love to be rid of Whiteside's $25 million (more next season) contract. Outside of that, the Heat could potentially move other players like James Johnson, Tyler Johnson, or Dion Waiters.

You never know with Pat Riley. He's always looking to improve. The Heat is better but nowhere near a championship contender. Trades could change that. 
KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Ryan Yousefi is a freelance writer for Miami New Times, a lover of sports, and an expert consumer of craft beer and pho. Hanley Ramirez once stole a baseball from him and to this day still owes him $10.
Contact: Ryan Yousefi