Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 11/8/12
MIAMI LeBron James had plenty of critics to drive him last season on the way to his first championship. With many of the skeptics having gone on vacation, the general belief is James will have to rely mostly on self motivation to win another. Then again, maybe not. The Miami small forwards dander has been raised. With there still being some concern over how the Heats small ball will do against bigger teams, James looks to be using that as motivation. Everybody is quick to try to find something about our team and say were too short or cant rebound or were too small, we need a big, James said. We heard that and won a championship. So it doesnt matter to us. So go ahead and tell James the Heat are too short with converted power forward Chris Bosh starting at center, with converted small forward Shane Battier starting at power forward and with James also playing power forward and even some center. It might really fire him up. The Heat are 4-1, but there has been talk about how well coach Erik Spoelstras position-less brand of play will do over the long haul. Denver coach George Karl has wondered if it is the best way to go. The bigger Nuggets lost 119-116 last Saturday at Miami, but they outrebounded the Heat 47-32. Overall, this season Miami has been outrebounded by an average of 1.8 per game. The Heat will see the Nuggets again next Thursday. Its one of a number of big teams Miami will run into on a six-game trip that starts Friday at Atlanta. Also on the docket are Memphis, Houston, the Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix. This next road trip will test us very much, and we know this is a heck of a road trip, Spoelstra said. The type of teams that we are playing are big, physical frontcourt teams, so this is what everybody wants to see right now, and were looking forward to the challenge. James always is up for a challenge. But he merely shrugs when asked about the Heat facing all these big teams. Every team is taller than us,'' said the 6-foot-8 James, who mans a Miami frontline that also includes the 6-11 Bosh and 6-8 Battier. That doesn't mean theyre bigger than us. Height doesnt mean anything. Its the heart. Its the passion that you play the game of basketball. Some of the greatest players in the world are some of the shortest ones in the world to ever play this game. The Heat beat Oklahoma City 4-1 in last Junes NBA Finals after they inserted Bosh as the starting center and won the final four games. Spoelstra this season has shown little interest in using a traditional center. Joel Anthony has logged 16 minutes in three games. Dexter Pittman hasnt played a second all season. Theres always going to be skeptics no matter what you do, Bosh said of the small lineup. We understand that we won a championship playing with the same lineup. So I dont think we have much to prove. We have to improve for ourselves . Rebounding is a huge part of it . So this road trip will be a very, very good test for us as far as size is concerned. As for Boshs rebounding this season, its down from 7.9 per game to 7.2. But on a per-minute basis its actually slightly up since Bosh has gotten plenty of rest the past two games due to a pair of routs. As for James, hes averaging 9.8 boards, on pace to top his career seasonal high by nearly two. So from his standpoint, James has a point about size being overrated. But few have suggested the reigning MVP is height-challenged. Any Heat problem would be with other guys on the team. Chris Tomassson can be reached at christomasson@hotmail.com or on Twitter @christomasson
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