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LeBron James at the point?

One of the persistent criticisms of the Miami Heat [1] is that while they are overloaded with LeBron James [2], Dwyane Wade [3] and Chris Bosh, they are weak at point guard and center. That’s if they run a conventional lineup.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra [4] suggested that wouldn’t be the case recently when he told the Miami Herald that James will play point guard [5] and handle the ball extensively. [Read the full story here [5].]

Here’s the key quote: “He will be a playmaker. But he has also been a scoring champ. He will be at the end of plays to finish them. He will be a facilitator. He’ll be so many different things. We want to take advantage of all his skills.”

Spoelstra also said that he would experiment with a starting lineup that included Mike Miller [6] instead of Mario Chalmers [7] or Carlos Arroyo [8], their two traditional point guards.

This is smart. There is no reason for Spoelstra to use a regular lineup when he has such unconventional talent. James is one the best playmaking forwards in the league and Wade has also run Miami’s offense. Both James and Wade have played on teams that demanded they take a huge percentage of shots, but both are also excellent passers. The Heat don’t need conventional players. They need shooters on the perimeter and a compliment to Bosh inside.

A lineup with Wade, Miller and James along with Bosh and Udonis Haslem [9] is probably Miami’s strongest and one that leaves the traditional positions all mixed up.

Coming up with counters for the Heat will be a constant challenge and the Celtics [10] have options. Doc Rivers [11] experimented with a backcourt of Rajon Rondo [12] and Nate Robinson [13] at times last season, but it didn’t really take. Perhaps with a full training camp at their disposal it could have time to jell.

That would be a serious speed advantage, but obviously a gamble in terms of height. But in spots, or with Avery Bradley [14] in the mix, it could be an interesting way to change the tempo, especially defensively.

The Celtics also have numerous options up front with Kevin Garnett [15], Jermaine O’Neal [16], Shaquille O’Neal [17] and Glen Davis [18]. Rivers said he prefers a set frontcourt rotation during the regular season, but he does have the pieces to play with in terms of matchups.

We don’t have much longer to find out. The Celtics and Heat open the season on Oct. 26.