Planning The 2014 Parade Route

HANG TIME, Texas — Horns will be honking, confetti will be falling, fans will be wildly celebrating the championship season.

No, it’s never too soon to look at where the victory parade might roll in 2014.

Not so fast, Knicks. Last season was your best shot. The Clippers finally landed Doc Rivers, but without the rest of the makeover that Kevin Garnett provides, the Clips are still a Lob City sideshow.

The smarter-than-everybody front office booted the best coach in franchise history, so that takes the Grizzlies a step back. The Warriors are so much fun, but the fragile state of Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut will again be a concern.

Can we really talk about the Lakers with Kobe Bryant rehabbing his Achilles’ and Dwight Howard with his head in the clouds?

So let’s take a peek at the six most likely teams to be dancing next June.

Miami Heat

.

Oh, there will be a summer of hand-wringing and debating about what to do to improve a team that’s won two consecutive titles and played in three straight NBA Finals. All this from people who would probably stand inside the Sistine Chapel and complain about Michelangelo’s brush strokes. Chris Bosh will be left out to dry more than a discarded bikini top on South Beach.

Then the regular season will begin, the Heat will eventually lose a game and the sky will fall again. Lose two in a row and there will be an all-out panic. Dwyane Wade will be sized up for a wheelchair to roll down Collins Avenue with the rest of the senior citizens. Even a 28-game winning streak won’t stop the fretting. Never mind that LeBron James will likely be on his way to a fifth MVP award.

But after all they’ve been through, all they’ve survived, all they’ve proven about themselves over the past two years, do we really doubt that the Heat can raise the Larry O’Brien Trophy again?

San Antonio Spurs

.

Go ahead, doubt them, disparage them, write them off as being too old and injury-prone. Again.

For all of the stumbling and bumbling around the court done by Manu Ginobili for most of The Finals, there was the overlooked and under-appreciated work done by Kawhi Leonard. At 21, he was a slashing force to the basket and a capable 3-point shooter, as well as a willing rebounder and the man who shouldered the defensive burden through every round of the playoffs. Maybe he is the future face of the franchise.

Yet there is no reason to think that a recommitted and fit Tim Duncan can’t hit the high notes again and Tony Parker can’t lead the offense again. After pushing the Heat to the seven-game limit — and coming within 5.2 seconds in Game 6 of winning the series — a fit Spurs team next spring remains Miami’s toughest challenge in The Finals.

Oklahoma City Thunder

.

What if Patrick Beverley hadn’t tried to reach out and make that steal as Russell Westbrook was calling timeout? What if the injury didn’t force Westbrook to miss the rest of the playoffs after knee surgery? What if the Thunder got their rematch in The Finals against Miami?

It says here it wouldn’t have happened, because the Spurs were a better, more complete team and the playoffs would have exposed the loss of James Harden as a fatal flaw.

There is no reason to think that Kevin Durant and a healthy Westbrook can’t fill up the baskets next season, win 55-60 games and get OKC the No. 1 seed in the West again. But the Thunder have to do something about that empty abyss in the middle that is Kendrick Perkins’ spot and find that reliable No. 3 offensive option that Serge Ibaka, Thabo Sefolosha and Kevin Martin have not yet become.

The Thunder are the one elite team that has not closed the gap on the Heat. In fact, they’ve probably slid farther behind. But the 1-2 punch of Durant-Westbrook will always give them a chance.

Indiana Pacers

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If the Heat undergo a drastic makeover and break up their Big Three, it will likely be in response to the beating they took on the inside from the Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals.

Indiana’s first big question: Can the Pacers hang onto free-agent forward David West? While the season-long injury problem of Danny Granger and the explosive improvement of Paul George got most of the attention in Indiana, West has been a stabilizing force for two seasons. He would be sorely missed.

Roy Hibbert must use the experience from this spring to fully understand what it means to show up with the same drive and effort every night and not worry about criticisms or distractions from the outside.

If coach Frank Vogel can harness the mercurial talent of Lance Stephenson and make him a consistent producer, he might get the Nobel Prize for physics — and then he could set his sights on the NBA crown. With a healthy Granger playing all of next season and the experience of reaching the conference finals under their belts, there should be no self-doubt in the Pacers’ locker room.

Chicago Bulls

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All the carping about Derrick Rose was so unnecessary and unfair. Did anyone really think that with virtually no time to become accustomed to playing with his teammates that he was going to jump right back into the starting lineup and lead the Bulls past Miami? Now when he takes the floor to start next season, Rose will be fully confident in his surgically-repaired knee and be able to play like his explosive self. Which is, of course, what makes him Derrick Rose.

Do they move Carlos Boozer or Luol Deng? Who do they get to replace Rip Hamilton? There’s plenty of room for tweaking the roster. But with Joakim Noah certain up front and everyone once again getting easy baskets from their set-up man and former MVP, and perennial Coach of the Year candidate Tom Thibodeau preaching defense, the Bulls will nip at Indiana’s heels for No. 2 seed in the East and could take a playoff bite out of the Heat.

Houston Rockets

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Every list needs a longshot. The Rockets are the team that could vault over all of the other contenders if Dwight Howard chooses to part ways with the Lakers.

It could happen. We are talking about Howard, who seems to spend more time up in the air than your average hummingbird. He wants to not only be appreciated, but loved, which is not something that occurred in L.A. last season and is not likely there until after he delivers a championship.

So much spotlight, so much burden, so much pressure to perform with the league’s most high-profile team and a teammate named Kobe Bryant. Truth is, Howard was much better off in his small Orlando pond. He can get the best of both worlds in Houston with a max contract and a sheltered tax haven on the Gulf Coast.

He would also get to play with burgeoning superstar James Harden, the athletic and dynamic Chandler Parsons and play for Hall of Famer Kevin McHale, who wants to coach a traditional low-post center.

If Howard bails on the Lakers, the Rockets are the most logical and comfortable landing spot. They instantly become contenders.

107 Comments

  1. sanjay says:

    Miami have to re-tool better. All other teams also have issues with contracts and injuries.
    miami needs a KG( but he seems to be worried about money rather than get a ring!) and a leonard/butler kind of player.

    The bench has to get touch younger( couple of young legs)
    Most of the challenge miami face comes in EC. The EC playoffs are so physical and tough that by the time you play finals, you are quite grilled( game 7 with pacers stood heat in good stead)

    lebron is on the rise, so heat would be all-right! lebron will also improve his post game knowing what chicago and indie are up to! So watch out!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I find it interesting how people give praise to Lebron, but bash Rose. If you make the comparison, Derrick Rose in Chicago is another Lebron James in Cleveland. It’s pretty astonishing. Both were drafted number one overall, rookies of the year and all-stars by their sophomore year. Both made names for themselves in their first two years reaching or exceeding records set in NBA history.

    Rose-led Bulls have been in the playoffs every year. Lebron didn’t get to the playoffs until his third year. Rose and the Bulls went to 7 games and loss to the defending NBA champs Celtics in his rookie season. Lebron and the Cav went to 7 games and lost to the defending East Conf champs Pistons in his playoff debut. Rose led the Bulls to the Eastern Conference Finals in his third year. Lebron led the Cav to the NBA finals in his fourth year. Rose earned his MVP in his third year (becoming the youngest player to ever do so) while Lebron got his first MVP in his sixth year. Rose led the Bulls to the number one overall seed in the league in two consecutive years (2011, 2012). Little acknowledged fact is that Lebron did the same thing with the Cavs, 2009, 2010.

    Obviously the current accomplishments of Lebron outmatches Rose and Rose physically is no Lebron. But keep in mind that Rose was drafted in 2008, Lebron in 2003. There’s a five year difference. Add a season ending injury to Rose and you still had a Bulls team that fought until the second round. What were the Cavs after Lebron left?

    As the old saying goes, give credit where credit is due. Yes, Lebron is a 4 time MVP, 2 time NBA champ and 2 time finals MVP. Hate him or love him, no one can take that away. But looking at Rose in Chicago, how is he any different than Lebron in Cleveland? Some people may argue, if anything, Rose is better or that they’re virtually the same. Just like Lebron in Cleveland, Rose needs help. Rose can’t do it all alone, but is that the reason why Lebron is better than him?

  3. Marco29 says:

    This kind of article will make more sense at the beginning of the 2013-14 season once the rosters and coaches are known. There are too many uncertainties right now on the free agent market and potential shake ups. Miami will probably make some addditions to be even stronger next year and the main contenders will probably make some moves as well. There are some intersting players available (D12, Smith, West, AI, etc..).
    Yet things shoudln’t change much in the East with Indiana, Chicago and NYK being the primary contenders for the Heat even though they all have flaws and would need some additions. West will be packed with contenders once again with Spurs and OKC leading the way, Memphis, LAC, Denver, GSW right behind. LAL, Houston, Dallas, Wolwes, might come back in the discussion depending on their roster adjustments.
    Lets wait until November to think about next season that should be as exiting as the one we just lived.

  4. Why do people always thinks about if and if… Heat won the championship because they are the better team.. That being said they are crowned as Champions again.. Let’s watch the whole season next year and see if your teams will be in the playoffs..

    One thing I could say is that even if the heat gets hard time winning a game against your favored team the outcome is still a win and the result is a championship trophy.. So stop thinking what if what if… LOL.. better luck next time and stop crying… Beat every team before thinking of FINALS baby..

  5. SNOWriter says:

    The 2012 – 2013 season is just over but if the new season started right away, the heat would be the favorites. They are just the better team, and back-to-bach championships prove exactly that. But that said, is way too soon to any accurate predictions. First of all the Heat need help inside. I heard some talk about Greg Odon but who knows if he can produce at a high level. Next, two important questions about Ray Allen and Birdman. Are they coming back? As a heat fan, i hope so but i know that next season we’ll be faced with all new challenges. Starting with the pacers and Paul George. I don’t know how good D Rose will be but i hope he can be great! The East misses him but he’s no savior and the Bulls remain a mistery.

  6. the only way says:

    for the bulls to win against heat, the bulls must have lebron in their team.

  7. DR BBAL says:

    Okay, i am gonna fantasize now.

    trade lual deng to the wizards for a draft pick(there are rumors this is true)
    than you can sign a player like Paul george

    Do a sign and trade for josh smith (carlos boozer)

    and if rose returns you get a starting line up like this:

    PG: Nate Robinson
    SG: D Rose ( Yes SG, or just let robinson and drose switch as they are playing)
    SF: Paul George
    PF: Josh Smith
    C: Noah

    it looks dangerous ! sad that this is not true ..

  8. New Guy says:

    Next year playoffs will be For the East: 1 Heat, 2 Pacers, 3 Knicks 4 Bulls, 5 Nets, 6 Raptors, 7 Celtics, 8 Caveliers.
    The West: 1 Thunder, 2 Spurs, 3 Grizzles, 4 Clippers, 5 Rockets, 6 Warriors, 7 Nuggets, 8 Will be between Lakers, Traiil-Blazers, T-Wolves or Dallas. I want to know what do you all think?

  9. chi-town 4 life says:

    Does anyone read thee above come on! just because Miami beat a Chicago team two three years ago doesn’t mean they can do it again and it doesn’t just involve rose, the bulls haven’t had a second option when rose was playing this off season the bulls are gonna make some changes and thee evolving of jimmy butler and nate and noah last season was amazing rose just adds a all star to an already great team and if they can sign a second scorer they will beat the heat no doubt if they don’t then they play butler in the two guard position and then re-sign nate and he can score off the bench.

    All you lebron lovers make me sick most of you probs supported the cavs before 2011. lebron is a great player but not unbeatable Chicago for life!!!

    • James says:

      Loser for life. Jordan hang-on. Past is gone son, accept it.
      The King Is Dead, Long Live King James!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. RealisticChicagoFan says:

    You shouldnt underestimate the bulls i do think theyll make there way to the eastern conference finals and play the heat and then that should be a series too watch im not gonna put the pacers above the bulls just yet but come on when you have D- Rose and two other all stars and JIMMY BUTLER i think we could at least make the heat run for the money.

  11. J says:

    great article! great points fran!
    you gotta include golden state splash!
    if houston get d12 (lets hope it happens) there contenders plain and simple
    thunder need depth period get more
    bulls gotta get a SG and maybe trade boozer
    and finally heat are a lock just get a C like hibbert or noah

  12. coolitdude says:

    I foresee a Bulls vs Thunder in the 2014 Finals, agreeing on Fran…

    sorry Heat, Wade’s got nothing left (that’s what he said), Inspirational Ray Allen & Birdman mission accomplished.. the lonely King James will be left targeted like he was in Cleveland..

    sorry Spurs, Duncan’s & Manu’s confidence levels took a dive after THAT game 6 heartbreak. the aging Big 3 certainly had their best season already..

    Agreeing with Fran, Clippers do excite the crowds, and that’s about it. CP3’s desperate for a ring, or least a Final. Therefore he needs to make a BIG decision to join a potentional contender, Mark Cuban is looking out for him and Bynum… stay tuned for now.

    sorry Dwight, whichever team you are playing next season will not get into a Final, let alone a Ring.. the same goes with Melo.. both of you guys reminded me of AI, with bigger ego issues (no offence, just my opinion)

    I like the Pacers & the Grizziles, they are very balanced and tough in D, seeing them falling out as Conference Final losers, again.

    & Kobe… might be playing his final season, depends on his health and NEW teammates.. He needs a tough unselfish PG to lift the team up again.. I suggest them looking out for CSKA Moscow’s Serbian guard Milos Teodosic, he will be playing against the Spurs & the Timberwolves during preseason. He has a similar playing style of Jason Kidd.

    Speaking of Kidd as a rookie coach with the Nets, they do not seem to have a true identity, a core direction, lacking the winning mentality.. The impression of Nets franchise looks more of Jay-Z & Beyonce than of Dwill & JoeJohnson. Sorry Folks.

    For the rest of the teams, a potential 2013 draft bust would certainly not lift an underdog team in a single season. We shall see.

    Lots of love from a Diehard Singapore NBA fan.

  13. Duv says:

    Actually, David West or Paul Millsap

  14. Duv says:

    All I can say is I hope Fran’s prophecy about the Rockets being contenders next year are true. But I think they’d be better off getting David West and defensive minded big man role player to come off the bench – trouble is, I cannot think of a decent defensive minded big man role player on the free agency list? Any help?

  15. Gillsy says:

    I think it’s good the Warriors are getting some love. I was happy to read one of the other articles where Curry was fit for the start of the off season. And the standout for me on the team as a rookie was Barnes who you kept forgetting was only in his first year. I was surprised that they did so well without Lee while they were making a run.

  16. Keep an eye out. says:

    Let’s not rule out the next so quick, Im expecting amare to have a BIG season considering he is in his last year of his contract and has alot to prove, lets just hope he can stay healthy. Shumpert has shown that his potential is sky high and Melo is going to get you almost 30 points a game, if they can fill in some slight adjustments, they will be laughing. they did finish 2nd in EC.. I think Clippers and Knicks are sleepers to make a deep playoff run next year

  17. Jez says:

    I think your opinion on the clippers is completely wrong. “You know nothing John Snow.”

  18. Thunderstruck says:

    I agree with @sleeplessbull, people forget how the bulls were the number 1 seed in 10-11 and 11-12. They were great even though they got beat by the Heat in 10-11 and when D-Rose went down in game 1 against the 76ers in 11-12 and lost in 6. Just think if the bulls go against the Heat next year and beat them up like they did this year with D-Rose and everybody else is healthy, Bulls got a shot to go to the Finals no matter what round they might face the Heat next year. Also Chris Bosh may or may not be there next year and if he’s not, I’m saying bulls. If he is, I say Heat but anything can happen.

  19. octopus3 says:

    I think the Rockets should focus on grabbing Josh Smith rather than Dwight Howard. Snatch him up while everyone’s watching the D12 circus, they’ve already got Asik who’s a good solid piece. Watch for Memphis, Denver, and LA Clippers to slide this year, with Warriors and Rockets moving up

  20. FeeLaZone says:

    Stop talking about “d’rose will be back”. such a waste of tym.. They were always talking that since last season… Let us see him the court of the bulls b4 talking more about him and chicago..

    Chicago was better coz of Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, & Loul Deng….. D’rose cannot get that MVP crown again. This is LBJ era..If LBJ cant get that crown, there’s Durant, CP3.. oh my, who’s the best point guard again? D’rose is just only a heck of scorer, nothing else! 25 pts per game cant overcome durant.

  21. realist2013 says:

    Well as far as the Knicks. No cap space Melo cant rebound and is only efficient if his jump shot on. He has no low post game to draw defenders and they only have a couple streak shooters. The Bulls need a 2 and to get a more consistant 4 if nothing else a garbage man I.E. someone to snag rebounds and get put back points. Indiana if they keep West are fine just need some polishing. The Rockets are overlooked should they land Howard. Mchale coaching him, Harden on the wing with Parsons and Lin gives them a basket attacking line up and they still have money to sign another big name too so they have some serious potential in the youngest team in the league. Howard also boosts their defensive standings. If I were them I’d get another rebounder/spot shooter 4 to compliment Howard and then they’re good.

    • PutYourNameOnIt says:

      Why do you all think Howard will work in Rockets… Howard wants ball, Harden wants ball, there’s only one ball! =/

  22. sleeplessbull says:

    well i would answer to every of the South Beach Divas personally but for some reason this is not possible!!

    so i will make a “global” comment!

    just remember my words one year from now!!
    The Heat will go down crying.. and enjoy the king… you will have him for one more year then this big 3 party is over!! i dont see any big three… but thats you problem!!

    about the bulls: D-Rose will be back a bette player than he was! He will shoot better and he will be the fastest PG in the league and stronger!! just watch him…
    In adition: last year the bulls had to play without Rose so what happened: Other Players had to step up and play better than they used to! So!?! everyone is goint to be better! And IF the bulls manage to stay healthy they are going the Finals where they play the Clippers – if this Doc deal gets done and KG joins them!!

    Yeah sure Bulls lost two years ago 4-1 in the C.Finals! But they were close game and the Heat was lucky at some points!! it was more the Bulls lost than the Heat won!

    This year.. man… we didnt even need Rose – only Deng and Kirk healthy – we would have brought it to 7 games with Miami and maybe won… you were crying Bulls play dirty??! PLEASE!!!!! did you watch closely?? the bulls play intense but not dirty!! the cheap shots came from Miami and i counted so many: Battier – birdthing – even James and Wade! so give us a brake!

    about this year the Spurs really deserved it… my prognose was 4-2 Spurs.. and if they kept their heads together that would it be!!

    i`m no Spurs fan at all… but i HATE the HEAT!!!!

    though repsect to lebron and the franchise… i`m just kidding!!! pure HATE!!! ;) c ya next year!!

    • Geiffrey Sorkin says:

      birdthing, that made my day. A more accurate description of the man with a body he’ll regret I’ll never hear.

    • qwerty says:

      If D-Rose did play last season, do you think that the other players would step up like they did in season ’12-’13? and what are you saying about “he will be the fastest PG in the league”? C’mon man. his knees did heal but it will never be the same before he tore his ACL.

  23. NBALogics says:

    I been saying this for ages the Bulls need a Versatile SF or a Scoring/Rebounding PF to become a better team. The reason why Teams win championships and are great is because they have 2 players to play off of and have big men to get rebounds.

  24. DENNIS says:

    The heat got lucky this time. specially when the refs are calling i favor of the HEAT !!!

  25. Roy says:

    to give the spurs a better chance to beat the heat. . . they better get david robinson back.
    to give the thunder a better chance to beat the heat. . . they better get harden back.
    to give indiana a better chance to beat the heat. . . they better get reggie miller back.
    to give the bulls a better chance to beat the heat. . . they better get michael jordan back.
    to give houston a better chance to beat the heat. . . they better get hakeem olajuwon back.

    • Anonymous says:

      Really? Ok. You’re right. All those teams probably need those players to come back to win the championship, just like a certain team needed two free agents one summer to win theirs. Wait, they lost the first chance that they got, that’s right. Does that many that these teams will lose their first finals with their players back?

    • Ilovewade&mourning says:

      LOL!!! Go Heat!!!

      • PutYourNameOnIt says:

        By your logic, if heat gets alonzo and hardaway back, I don’t think anyone’s stopping them.

  26. Moses says:

    Everyone forget about the nets???

  27. Miami - Cuba connection says:

    Felicidades Campeones

  28. There are no Heat fans says:

    To all you would be Heat fans talking about how the Heat beat the bulls in 5 when D.Rose won MVP…. Remember that was the first year the Bulls were put together just like the Heat. It was the first year for Boozer, Korver and Tibs to go along with D.Rose and Noah. On top of that Noah and Boozer were injured for most of the season and didn’t get to pla with each other that much. Thats is wht D.Rose won MVP!!!! He had to carry the team with Noah and Boozer being injured.

    As for him not coming back, I would say he did the right thing because look at Shumpert. He had is ACL torn the same day as D.Rose and came back, but during the playoffs he started to compliane about he his knee hurting and had to have the DR that did his surgery take look at his knee. So, stop talking about D.Rose and his injury.

    P.S.
    You guys might of beat us and won a Two Championships, but we took history away from you and we made you guys cry.

  29. July's Very Own says:

    lmao the bulls never took miami to game 7. The only team that can come close to beating the heat is the pacers because of the offensive weapons they have and that lethal defense. The thunder showed us 2 times this season that without that 3rd star , james harden, they are an average team. Chicago can’t rely on physical play to beat the heat because that will only backfire when their good players are getting suspended. The spurs if healthy CAN beat the heat. The Rockets will not make it past the first round even if they have d howard. You need chemistry to be champions. That being said D Wade will also come back healthy next season if he works on his knees. Miami is also going to get a physical player who is not afraid to get dirty and a lockdown defender. If they do that maimi is going for a three peat.

  30. to sleeplessbull says:

    ya ok so ur saying that the player who just tore his acl (rose) will be better than the player who shut down the spurs (lebron)!?
    but then again u are a bulls fan, i.e. alittle delusional. and btw wade in a whellchair!?seriously!? the guy is old but hes not injured and when he is he doesnt want to be off the court when he could be playing, (cough) DERRICK ROSE!!!

  31. Rico says:

    Andre Iguodala to Spurs, then they will extend their window again for another 2 years..

    • Marco29 says:

      If Ginobili does not return, it would be a great move for the Spurs. If Ginobili stays, I don’t see how this deal could be done.

  32. Jordan says:

    No they wont!!!!!!!!

  33. Pacers and bulls are biggest threats, but Pat Riley will make moves like he always does. That Ray Allen pick up looked pretty damn good this postseason and you better believe that Mr. 9 rings will add some more talent to keep King James happy.

  34. Brandon Lara says:

    Heat will win a third championship in a row no doubt

    • to sleeplessbull says:

      ya ok so ur saying that the player who just tore his acl (rose) will be better than the player who shut down the spurs (lebron)!?
      but then again u are a bulls fan, i.e. alittle delusional. and btw wade in a whellchair!?seriously!? the guy is old but hes not injured and when he is he doesnt want to be off the court when he could be playing, (cough) DERRICK ROSE!!!

  35. Lots of things to do this off season for the NBA teams.

  36. J says:

    terrible article bro. Houston over New York or Lob City? Yikes, you’re sorely misinformed..

    • Eric says:

      Although I wouldn’t put Houston in front of the Clippers, I would definitely put them in front of New York. Houston has a better team than New York and has cap room to get better. i like New York but their team is old and on the decline. Jason Kidd is not leading the team anymore and they don’t have much cap room to work with…

  37. stan weier says:

    i’m on that boat with the heat. but i did feel the storm and those waves got real high against the especially against the Pacers but the Bulls had pretty much exposed some problems prior to that series. so i do see the Pacers being trouble next year although, David West won’t cause the problems he did; he started looking old in the latter part of the series and Bosh will prepare better. the bulls will have four players to absolutely count on. Rose for sure, Noah, Deng and Butler. i look to Butler and Rose being the best backcourt in the league. as a heat fan, i fear the bulls more than the pacers precisely because of what these two players might be capable of doing, then if they unloaded carlos boozer to the rockets ( if howard signs) and got Asik back that would spell some real trouble for anyone!

  38. jsmooth says:

    The Rockets?
    Every team has a good explanation but the Rockets, as good as they played, were still the 8th seed. And to say that they will be contenders “IF” they sign Howard is ridiculous because it may or may not happen. There are other teams such as the Brooklyn Nets or the Denver Nuggets who have a capable squad and aren’t relying on any “IF” for next season. They should be the picked over the imaginary Howard-led Rockets. I give the advantage to the Nets simply because they have a better core that will be playing their second year together.

    • Eric says:

      Dude the Rockets barely missed the 7th seed in the more competetive Western Conference by a game. Brooklyn Nets were a 4th seed in the East. Their opponent was the Bulls. I know regular season is not the same as playoffs, but still the Rockets swept both of these teams during this last season and both teams got beat pretty good the second time they played each other. The Rockets are a better team than the Nets as they are…. The Nuggets I will admit are a better overall team than the Rockets, but they just lost their coach and have a chance of losing AI. If they do lose AI the Rockets as they are would probably be a better team than the Nuggets. Now if the Rockets were to acquire another solid piece regardless if it’s Howard or not they would definitely be better than both of the teams you mentioned. I hope this a good enough explanation for you, although i think all these teams i mentioned have a lot of work to do before calling themselves contenders.

  39. Who knows? says:

    Who knows what is going to happen…
    All this talk that the Heat are going to 3 peat is just a load of nonsense.
    It would be great to see them do it.
    BUT…. Who Knows what is going to happen. LBJ may get injured… Season Over…. 3peat Over….
    Trades, Free agency signings… Luck all have a chance to ruin any 3peat.

    So don’t wright off the struggling teams. 2014 is a whole new season….

    • Anonymous says:

      As I’ve stated before, the last team to go to four straight finals were the Lakers in 1982-1985. There is a very valid reason for why no team has done this since then: simply put it’s extremely hard and straining. To win a championship, a team has to go through 100+ games in a season. The least amount of games a team has to play to win a title is 98, and that’s if they sweep the three rounds of the playoffs and sweep the finals. The only team to be close to that was the 2001 Lakers, as their only loss was Game 1 of the Finals. They played 98 games that year, 82 in the regular season and went 15-1 (with the old format that had the first round as 3 of 5, instead of the current format 4 of 7 in every round).

      The Heat are a good team. They currently stand as the best team in 2013. The Lakers had a similar run though, three straight finals winning two at the end (with a game 7 at the third finals). Not to say that the Heat will end up like the Lakers did in 2011, but fatigue is really a factor here, and that is not to bash the Heat, or their abilities. They can enjoy this championship now as they should. They earned it. But like you said, 2014 is a whole new season. 94-105 games stand between the Heat and returning to the finals.

      • Anonymous says:

        ***Correction: it’s 94 to 103 games to reach the finals.***
        82 regular season games + sweeps in the first three rounds (12 games) is 94.
        If the first three rounds go 7 games a piece, it’s 21 games, 103 in all.

        Think it’s impossible to go the distance? Look at the 2008 Cetlics. Two 7-game series (1st round Hawks, 2nd round Cavs) and two 6-game series (Conf Finals Pistons, NBA Finals Lakers), 108 games in all, literally two games shy from playing the most possible games in an NBA season. And this is not including the All-Star Game or the pre-season games, with only the summer to rest and playing all those games in an 8-month span.

        Playing in 4 straight NBA finals is like playing 5 regular seasons (16-28 x4, on top of 82 x 4).

        Here’s to the 2013-2014 season. If the Heat do reach the finals next and win, it would be very deserving.

      • Geiffrey Sorkin says:

        Let’s look at what happened to the last almost team. Of their two starting swing-men, one continued to set the world on fire, and everyone said so what, he’s supposed to do that, while the other a hard-nosed, gritty, and somewhat dirty player who constantly put his body on the line had that body finally go out. Their all-star PF/C finally felt the wear of three years without a consistent prescence in the front court and he ran out of gas. Other than some minor differences, this doesn’t sound that different.
        The differences being Wade>>Artest, Bynum>>whatever the Heat call a Center/PF, Odom>Shane Battier and of course Phil Jackson>>>>>>Eric Spolestra on Phil’s worst day and Spos best.

      • Anonymous says:

        Geiffrey Sorkin, I hear you and completely agree with you 100%. People are already talking about fatigue with the Heat players, even their star player “looked mortal” under the defense of George and Leonard.

        I just thought of something. Not only did the Lakers and Heat 3 straight runs to the finals, the records of their three finals are virtually the same.

        Lakers vs Celtics 2008 Lost 4-2
        Lakers vs Magic 2009 Won 4-1
        Lakers vs Celtics 2010 Won 4-3

        Heat vs Maves 2011 Lost 4-2
        Heat vs Thunder 2012 Won 4-1
        Heat vs Spurs 2013 Won 4-3

        All in the last six seasons.

        We all know what happened to the Lakers. Heat/Lebron fans hoped it wouldn’t be the case for them, but this pattern is looking to be all too familiar. No one can predict what would happen next year. Man, now I’m really looking forward to next season. It’ll be intriguing to see if the Heat could do it (reach the fourth straight finals and three-peat) or will history catch up to them. I guess this is why we watch and love sports so much.

  40. Kevo says:

    Everyone needs to stop jumping on the Bulls fan for stating what he wants to state. Just as all of you can say Heat 3Peat and so on, so can we non-Miami fans about DRose, D12, CP3 etc. You don’t need to call anyone a dummy or chastise him/her for saying what they feel.

    I congratulate the Heat on excellent basketball played and another championship! If they want to 3Peat, they will have to really work for it next season: I really cannot see them surviving the 2013-2014 Eastern Conference Playoffs, but this is just my OPINION. Either way, we all got to see great bball this season and more to come next season as well!

    Heaters and Haters…everyone take a much needed summer off, lol.

  41. Unkle Daddy says:

    I like your list, but I think that a team that will make some noise in the west provided their leader doesn’t do anymore knuckle push-ups and they all stay healthy is the Timberwolves. If Kevin Garnett is released by the Celts and still wants to play, he should put back on a wolves jersey for a season or two. Also, the only place Howard needs to play is Atlanta, come home Dwight. If he stays in L.A. he is asking for heartache, because the Lakers championship runs are over for a good 5 years. (This is if the Hawks resign Smith and pick up Paul)

  42. ac says:

    I don’t understand the consistent hatred commentators have for the Knicks. They were undefeated against San Antonio and went 3-1 vs Miami. The one game Miami won was a squeaker down to the final seconds. Obviously regular season doesn’t equal playoff success, but at the very least they should deserve some respect, in three of their four matchups they were truly the better team.

    • Anonymous says:

      “Obviously regular season doesn’t equal playoff success”. You said it yourself. It’s not about the regular season. And the Knicks only played the Spurs in two games. Is that enough of a sample to say that they are better than the Spurs?

      It’s “can a team beat another team in 4 out of 7 games?” Now, I’ll grant that we’ll never know if the Knicks could have prevailed against the Heat in a series. We can only go by what we’ve seen with the Knicks losing to the Pacers in 6 and the Pacers losing to the Heat in 7.

      • ac says:

        If I already said it myself, then exactly what point are you making? My only comment was that NYK is regarded as an afterthought despite convincingly beating Miami in 3 games this season (two games by 20, one by 12) and beating the Spurs (one was close, the other a 30point blowout).

        I’m not claiming that they are better than Miami or San Antonio this year. This year is over, last time I checked. I’m saying based on those statistics alone you would think they would at least be slightly in the discussion for next year.

      • Anonymous says:

        Hey ac, now I see your point. In reality, these predictions are made by one writer’s “humble” opinion. Or he might be purposely making these predictions just to provoke folks like you and me to write in his blog. Either way, no team can be written off. Look at the Maves in 2011. Did anyone really predict them to win it all that year? The Knicks are a solid team, though, and regardless of what anyone says, they have a chance to be contenders next year in the East.

  43. Jorge says:

    The unfortunate fact about D-Rose is that while he is an excellent athlete and basketball player, he requires a lot of ball-time to be that productive. By handling the ball that much and driving into the lane as aggressively, he is rightfully one all-star type of player. Nevertheless, the Bulls this season stayed alive by playing good collective basketball and good defence. While the defence will not necessarily be hurt by Rose’s return the offence will now run through him, and only through him while he is in the field. This will diminish the potential contribution from other players who greatly improved their numbers this season without Rose because the ball-handling/time was split among them. It is not to say that the result will be negative for the Bulls, but those expecting to add Rose’s numbers to the current Bulls stat-line are probably missing the point that Rose’s numbers will come at the expense of everybody else’s.

    I believe Rose is in a similar situation LeBron was in Cleveland. For Rose to go beyond being an individually good player he needs to pair up with a higher calibre team-mate, just the way almost every other player to with a championship has had. I might be mistaken and at the end of next season be congratulating D-Rose’s Bulls on a championship, but from what I have watched of the Bulls, and other teams, over the years, this doesn’t feel too far from ringing true.

  44. heatrespect says:

    @sleeplessbull think before you say anything about taking the nos. 1 spot. As far as I know if your’re watching nba basketball, the only teams that have the chance of knocking down the heat are the spurs, pacers or memphis. derrick rose is a great player but he still lacks the capability of leading the bulls to a championship. Lebron is already on the path to greatness. Stop daydreaming and give lebron the credit that he deserve dummy.

    • Anonymous says:

      I wouldn’t say Derrick Rose can’t lead them. It’s not about leadership. Remember the Bulls number one overall in two straight seasons under Rose. It takes leadership and team work to have the best record in the league (62-20 in 2011, 50-16 in 2012). It’s just that the Heat are simply a better team, especially in the playoffs. Rose needs help, just like Lebron. Lebron couldn’t do it in Cleveland alone. What makes you think Rose can?

  45. Gee says:

    Unless the bulls get a secondary scorer and some better bench pieces ,Imma let u Drose Stans Think they can really beat Miami in a 7 game series

  46. d_ROSE_ded says:

    guys stop talking about DROse… he is dead!!! DROSE is the mvp but not even won the Conference finals …

  47. Iggy says:

    Heat wont win next year

  48. Lincoln says:

    I think for the first time. Chris Paul will make a Finals run or at least the WCF.

  49. MIA CHAMPS2014 says:

    MIA 3 PEAT

  50. reynol pers says:

    Miami will not break up there team until someone knocks them out. Bosh is a great player and he will remain a Heat and retire in Miami. Who would you like the ball in there hands with 5 seconds down by 2 Bosh or Howard ? AH sorry I said enough

  51. Javier rubio says:

    Nobody in nba can beat heat in best of seven series u bustas need to come to grips with that

    • ee says:

      man the spurs handed it to Miami u idiot lebron was nearly crying the spurs just got nervous and handed you the title

  52. RM says:

    Im not a Knicks fan by any stretch of the imagination but what does “Not so fast, Knicks. Last season was your best shot.”

    I feel like all the teams he ruled out he had a legit explanation, except the Knicks, why was last season their best shot?

    • Jorge says:

      I may be wrong, but he probably referred to the fact that the crew the Knicks put together was an old crew, that was playing some good basketball anyway. At the end of the season we saw how Kidd’s production declined sharply and how other players did not keep up the pace they had kept during the first parts of regular season. I would not discount the Knicks outright because they are still a very scoring-capable team, but injuries and some missing key players may make a deep run difficult. I am not sure how flexible the Knicks are going to be in terms of spending power this off-season, but I would imagine that with the current crew, they should not have much cap space to adjust for the missing pieces.

    • str8 says:

      Melo is a selfish player never win that way plus he can shoot you out of a game fast like jr smith both them dudes jacking up shots its like you live by the gun you die by the gun… them 2 be gunning n dont know when to stop when their shots not falling

  53. Samson says:

    I hope kobe my hero will heal because if not the lakers will not be close and if he does celebrate la because we are going to tie boston and kobe will be the greatest of all time not mj forget about three peet because kobe is in town. Advice kobe no ball hogging

    • Anonymous says:

      I heard that Jordan once said that the only person who deserves to be compare to him was Kobe Bryant. But really, you’d put Kobe over Jordan? Their styles of play are similar in many regards, but here are a few of facts in comparison. Kobe was not the MVP for all 5 of his rings. Only 2, as Shaq was the MVP for the first three. Kobe has been in 7 finals, but he has 5 rings. Jordan went 6 for 6 in finals appearances and was MVP for all 6. Kobe was league MVP once in 2008. Jordan, 5 times in his career. So even if Kobe wins the title next year, can you honestly put Kobe over MJ?

  54. Tim Duncan! says:

    Also, have fun getting past Chicago AND Indiana LeBron

    • Pacers4eva says:

      They will probably play each other genius (sarcasticly) they will eliminate one another and stop hating on the heat just cuz the spurs choked and the heat beat them

  55. Tim Duncan! says:

    If the Spurs make it to the finals again, then they aren’t going to lose again lol. Tim Duncan wants that 5th ring

  56. Dwalk says:

    Memphis and Denver will be up there to! Both had great seasons and have no reason to be slowing down.

    • chalice says:

      Memphis and Denver both will have different coaches, that’s why they are excluded. I don’t get why both organizations got rid of them. Maybe they know something we don’t?

  57. Stu.D says:

    @ sleeplessbull; The last time the bulls were #1 and at full strength they got shredded by the heat in five. D rose at full strength does not make the bulls the best team in the nba. I’d like to see your chops on court alongside or opposing Chris Bosh so that you can justify the petty comments you made about his ability also.

    I’m a warriors fan and couldn’t be happier with the turnaround this year; that said, credit where credit is due and thats to the heat.

    • jdante91 says:

      @Stu.D when the bulls lost that match up they definitely did not get shredded. Each of those games were close games that both teams could have won. The Bulls have a great chance of beating the Heat next season, especially if they could find a way to get their starters some rest by signing/drafting 2 or 3 affordable decent back up players this summer.

      • Jorge says:

        So basically the Bulls have a good chance of defeating the Heat if the team is different and better than the one they have right now. I do agree with that :P

  58. steppx says:

    yes i did expect Derrick Rose, cleared for over a month, to come play in the post season……thats what stars do. The apologizing for Rose is as disgusting as Rose’s fear of tarnishing his brand.

  59. Jean_Phi says:

    I think you mean Rose ACL and not achille’s right?

    • Pakyaw says:

      Here we go again , overhyping DROSE..what accomplishment he did on this league?..except for MVP(handed by media, hate toward LBJ that year)…remember he’s coming back from a major injury(acl)..chances are 50/50..counting the egg before even hatch

      • You're a hater says:

        25 ppg 7.7 apg 4.1 rpg 46% fg…those are derrick rose’s stats in his 3rd nba season playing for a defensive minded head coach on a team with no real low post threat, no consistent 3 point shooting, and no other playmaker. If you think he won the MVP because of “media hate toward LBJ that year” you’re delusional. Add that to the fact that he’s had a whole year to work on his jump shot and that he’s just as athletic and hardworking as Adrian Peterson and you have the next face of the nba in 2-3 years when LeBron starts exiting his prime (unless Andrew Wiggins really is the next LBJ).

  60. sleeplessbull says:

    bulls nr 2??? emm excuse me .. but as far as i remember the two previous years best nba record with overall home court!! so lets say this the heat will play P.2 with the pacers and the Bulls are Nr. 1 again!!!

    crazy how some people forget that easy.. pathetic!!!

    the bulls go for the title this year with their current starters.. next year there will be major makeover!! dont no if the can win but if miami plays them in the C.finals lebron has to become even better than against SA.. cause yeah Wade will be in wheelchair and Bosh somewhere in China finnaly aknoledging he cant play Bball and suc kS badly!!

    and guess who is next year MVP? its not lebron!! DRS-1 is back!!!

    • Another Heat Fan says:

      indeed it is crazy how people forget
      even though the bulls had a record season with home court advantage, they lost to the heat 2 years ago.
      That was the first year of the heat playing together and they were much weaker than they are now.
      And yet you think when D. Rose returns the bulls will be stronger than they ever were…
      That’s….sad.

    • Silence I'll kill u says:

      Keep dreaming chicago fan boy, even ur beloved drose has been already shut down by the king, 2 years ago. Tss

      • Bulls Fan says:

        I know you all are loving the championship, congrats, but the Heat got taken to a game 7 by the Bulls 3rd string, so wait until we are back at full health, yall ain’t ready. Enjoy this moment might be a long time before it comes again.

      • Viper says:

        @Bulls Fan: In what world do you live in dude? Miami beat the Bulls in 5 in both series they played in the last 3 years. There never was a game 7.

      • HEATFANSINCEWADE says:

        Hey Bulls Fan, Bulls got beaten in 5 by maimi not to a game 7! Making up stuff won’t change the fact that the Bulls can’t beat the Heat. Drose or no Drose, same result 4-1 Miami. Check your facts!

      • Heatles Read Chris's FACE. says:

        Heat aren’t ready? back to back championships I think its the bulls that wont be ready bud.

    • Jojo Lecitona says:

      You are crazy. canwhat are your basis in saying drs woild claim mvp nxt season hes done. You wake up you must be dreaming

    • aidenj says:

      without drose, bulls dont have a superstar-calibre go-to guy to make the big plays down the stretch, and we’ve all seen how this works out for teams (see denver). with rose, on the other hand, they do not have a legit 2nd option on offense and are overly-reliant on him. that allows teams with good perimeter defences (eg. Miami, Indiana) to lock down on rose and limit his production. either way, i dont see chicago winning the championship the way they are now, with rose or without.

    • Juvz says:

      @you’re a hater
      hey, you know why derrick rose won the MVP award on 2011? it is because of the aftermath of lebrons decision to take his talents to south beach. He got all the hate and it really affects his chances to win the MVP that season, but when the dust settles after that decision, see what happens? 2 consecutive MVP, titles, and finals MVP…. i hope to see your Drose doing that..
      (25 ppg 7.7 apg 4.1 rpg 46% fg… Drose stat Vs. 26.7 ppg 7.5 rpg 7.0 apg James stat)
      now tell me who is better?
      dont hate too much just be factual and accept it.. peace

    • NBA FAN says:

      DUDE KEEP DREAMING… Just accept the fact that bulls can’t be a champion again even rose is healthy.. The pacers and miami heat will not let that to happen..

    • AL says:

      That MVP belonged to Lebron James. It was supposed to be 3 in a row. But the critics thought he didn’t deserved it because he joined force with other two superstars.

    • math says:

      gooo d rose :)