The Miami Heat appear to be the favorite to win their third consecutive NBA championship but there are several teams in the league with their eye on the prize. The Heat have added big names Michael Beasley and Greg Oden into the mix but will the new additions be enough to help the team through a highly competitive Eastern Conference? Lets be honest, just about every team in the league will be giving the Miami Heat their best effort on the court due to the simple fact they are the defending NBA champs.
At the end of the day, there are three or four favorable teams in the league who have a legitimate shot at winning an NBA championship. The Heat still have interior defensive issues and Greg Oden will continue to be a huge question mark until he can prove he is healthy and capable of returning to the fast-paced and physical contact he will endure on a nightly basis. With or without Oden, the Heat have the best player in the game right now (Lebron James), unfortunately I have my doubts regarding his supporting cast.
Miami has speed but they lack size, a vulnerability exposed during the 2012-2013 NBA playoffs versus the Indiana Pacers. Chris Bosh was a virtual no-show during most of the post season and the “big-three” has become a reference of the past. The Heat are still among the top three teams in the Eastern Conference, however several other opposing team rosters have gotten stronger and they know exactly where to attack the Heat.
Who can beat the Heat?
The Brooklyn Nets arguably have one of the best rosters in the NBA. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are an instant upgrade to the Nets roster. Now the Nets have the size and looks of a team ready for battle with the sole purpose of obliterating the competition. Have you looked at the Nets starting lineup? These guys are huge and they have three players any opposing team should avoid leaving open behind the arc (Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, and Deron Williams). Thus far, the Nets are off to a rocky start after losing winnable games versus the Cleveland Cavaliers and the abysmal Orlando Magic. I expect the Nets to turn things around soon but lets hope head coach Jason Kidd can lead this team to accomplishing their championship or bust results.
The Indiana Pacers are another serious threat to the Miami Heat’s hopes of winning their third consecutive NBA title. Rewind back to the 2013 NBA Eastern Conference finals. The Miami Heat were facing elimination at the hands of a formidable Pacers team that outplayed and out-muscled the Heat throughout most of the series. Take away the game winning layup scored by Lebron James on the road in Indiana and perhaps the outcome would have resulted in a Pacers vs. Spurs NBA finals series.
Several facts are for certain; Paul George emerged as a legitimate NBA star and the Indiana Pacers are now one of the top teams in the East despite having one of their star players sidelined throughout the regular season and the playoffs (Danny Granger). The Pacers have the personnel to defeat any team in the league. If coach Frank Vogel can find a way to implement a healthy Granger back into the lineup alongside Paul George, the Pacers will find themselves in great position to make another Eastern Conference Finals appearance.
The Miami Heat are in for a long and tough regular season. Do they have the hunger and desire to hoist another NBA title or will this be the end of their reign as the “king of the jungle?” As it stands, the Heat haven’t made any significant roster upgrades and they don’t match-up well against the Pacers or the Nets. I would pick both teams to dethrone the champs. True, it could be too soon to predict the overall outcome nonetheless I look forward to what looks to be another exciting NBA season.