Biggest Threats To The Heat’s Three-Peat



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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Now that we know what the Miami Heat’s regular-season yellow brick road to a three-peat looks like, it’s time to take a look at the teams capable of derailing those dreams.

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the boys are supremely confident in their ability to defend their title for a second straight season, as they should be. But it’s not going to be as easy as just believing and doing. The rest of the contenders around the league have fortified their ranks, retooled their rosters and crafted their own plans to knock the Heat off of their pedestal.

The San Antonio Spurs had their chance in The Finals and couldn’t get it done. I’m not sure they’ll find their way back into that mix if everyone stays healthy in Oklahoma City and Los Angeles, Clippers not Lakers. (And before you go throwing stones remember this, for all that the Spurs have accomplished during the Tim Duncan-Gregg Popovich championship era they have never made back-to-back trips to The Finals.) The real threat to the Heat’s three-peat, though, could come from an Eastern Conference challenger, who’d have their shots long before The Finals.

You remember what the Indiana Pacers did to the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals, right?

A closer look at the biggest threats to the Heat’s Three-Peat dreams …

Indiana Pacers

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That seven-game showcase we saw between the Heat and Pacers during the Eastern Conference finals was legitimate. The Pacers attacked the Heat’s one glaring weakness (size and depth inside) and tore at it until the final buzzer of that series. There’s a reason the Heat pursued a big body like Greg Oden in free agency. They need someone to help them fend off the likes of Roy Hibbert and David West, whose physicality in and around the rim was more than the Heat could handle. The star turn from Paul George during that series makes the potential for a third straight Heat-Pacers playoff series even more interesting. Toss in the return of Danny Granger and no team in the league is better positioned to challenge the Heat. The talent, experience, size, motivation and coaching are all in place for the Pacers to strike down the giants of the league. Coach Frank Vogel exited the playoff stage with a strange confidence about him, like he knew something about his team the rest of us didn’t. I see it now.

Oklahoma City Thunder

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No offense to the Spurs, who were fantastic in their playoff run last season and 30 seconds away from snatching the Heat’s crown during  Game 6 of The Finals, but the Thunder remain the cream of the Western Conference crop. Russell Westbrook‘s knee injury devastated this team and opened the door for the Memphis Grizzlies and Spurs to battle it out for the Western Conference crown. Don’t bet on the Thunder falling down like that again. Kevin Durant won’t allow it. And Westbrook will certainly return with a vengeance. The Thunder know now just how fragile elite status can be. The wrong injury at the wrong time can spell disaster. Westbrook’s injury did have one silver lining for the Thunder, it allowed a youngster like Reggie Jackson to test himself in the spotlight. It also allowed Durant and Thunder coach Scott Brooks to take stock of exactly who would be ready to go when adversity hit. Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins have to know that redeeming themselves for their postseason failure is a must.

Chicago Bulls

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Grinding through an entire season without the face of the franchise, Derrick Rose, only reinforced my belief the toughest pound-for-pound team in basketball (coach Tom Thibodeau included) resides in Chicago. Rose pushes the Bulls right back into the league’s true elite as a true threat to the Heat, much like Westbrook does for the Thunder. The Bulls also have a big man presence in Joakim Noah that could give the Heat all sorts of problems in a playoff series. The continued maturation of Jimmy Butler is also a reason to believe that the Bulls are ready to resume their position atop the Eastern Conference regular season standings. But if we’ve learned anything the past three years, regular-season accomplishments are one thing, testing your mettle in the glare of the postseason is an altogether different story. Winning a Game 7 on the road against Brooklyn and then trading punches with the Heat when they were clearly overmatched showed me the Bulls with Rose, Luol Deng and all of their other main components healthy are a very real threat to the Heat.

Los Angeles Clippers

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No team in basketball did more to upgrade its position over the course of the Draft and free agency than the Clippers. And it all starts with the acquisition of coach and senior vice president of basketball operations Doc Rivers, who packed his championship bag of tricks with him when he left Boston for Los Angeles. Superstar point guard Chris Paul will orchestrate things and All-Star power forward Blake Griffin will co-headline on what is arguably the deepest and most balanced roster in the league. The Clippers have a surplus of shooters (J.J. Redick, Jared Dudley, Jamal Crawford and more) who will help space the floor and push the tempo. They’ve also added enough specialists and junkyard dog types to play the relentless defensive style Rivers teams were known for in Boston. The one question about the Clippers that has to be answered early on is whether or not Girffin and DeAndre Jordan are ready to take that next step as a duo on both ends, a la Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol in Memphis. If they are, the Clippers will rise up the ranks immediately. If not, Rivers and CP3 will have to drag them along until they are ready. All of the other human resources needed, however, are already in place and ready to go.

Houston Rockets

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I know … you thought this final spot would be reserved for the Spurs. Wrong Texas power. Dwight Howard and James Harden as a 1-2 punch should worry the entire league, not just the Heat. Sure, it’s strictly based on the theory of how these two will play together. And yes, the Los Angeles Lakers tried a similar experiment with Howard and Kobe Bryant last season, only to see it go up in smoke before anyone got the fire going, but this is a new completely new season and scenario. The recent track record for Super Teams is pretty good. For every misfire like the Lakers there are examples (the Celtics and of course the Heat) of these sorts of risky, high-dollar gambles paying off in a major way. The Rockets have such a strong supporting cast and a quality head coach in Kevin McHale that will propel this team up the charts in the Western Conference playoff chase.  That said, the onus for the Rockets’ season and whatever title hopes they harbor in their initial season together rest on the shoulders of Howard and Harden. They’re not only going to have to lead this crew on the floor, they have to set the right leadership tone off the floor, particularly in the locker room, and make sure it’s on a championship course. If they get it all together by April 2014, the rest of the league better beware.

337 Comments

  1. NBA Fan says:

    I really don’t think OKC and LAC are gonna be that much of a threat to the Heat. OKC has Westbrook and Durant, but they don’t have another scorer off the bench or that is like Harden. Thats how they were able to reach the Finals 2 years ago. They had enough offense and star power to get there. If someone steps up like Ibaka or Lamb or anyone else, then maybe they have a chance. But just signing Gomes. Not a veery good signing in my opinion. LAC has not proven to be a threat in the playoffs, just during the season. LAC has been swept by the Spurs before and was eliminated in the first round last year. Unless that changes, then they are not a big threat

  2. sanjay says:

    the miami heat are still the favorites despite all the odds. They got a big man that they wanted. And if he can give them 10 minutes per game, they will be tough to beat. One small chink in armory is the absence of hustler mike miller, who did so well in the play offs when battier was gone missing. They cant afford that now as they do not have similar kind of player. They need to sign that dallas maverick player who wanna come n play for the heat to give them that roughness. people are expecting rashard to come good, which he might as he is a finesse player. But to reduce load on james, miami has to find a miller kind of player( I am told that dallas dude can shoot as well. So he could be the replacement for miller).
    And also battier has to do his thing and not just in few play off games.

    And as long as james keeps improving and wade is there to support him( last time I checked bosh is under 30. so he needs to improve as well), it is miami’s trophy to toast again!!!

  3. Shakur Alston says:

    The knicks gone stop them

  4. kenny says:

    sorry messed up the rockets do have 2 championships but if Jordan didn’t retire they would have had none

  5. Miami Heat Fan says:

    It will be a much harder now for the HEAT, but the chances are still high for 3peat. I hope Oden will contribute BIG when needed in the playoffs even he play 15mpg just like Birdman.

  6. Rocketman says:

    This is a great article yes Heat are good my question is can Oden stay healthy and the other Heat as well.It is very hard to 3 peat period no matter who you are.I think pending injuries Bulls,Pacers or Nets could beat Miami.I still think the champs for 2014 could come out of the West! Thanks for showing love to the Rockets everyone counts them out hmmm! If they stay healthy the 2nd half of the season they are going to surprise some people.Clipper I’m not sold on them however Doc Rivers is a great coach.I see OKC,Houston,Spurs as top 3 teams however Spurs have never won back to back titles as Rockets have.In Rockets case it comes down to McHale coaching and the supporting cast including Asik.Rockets only need 1 or 2 perimiter shooters to feel it on a nightly basis.If Rockets catch fire during the playoffs and are feeling it as a team they are going to be hard to beat period even OKC will have a hard time.Against the Thunder you slow the game down pound it inside the paint kick it back out from the double team and make them pay. I think Howard will have his way against OKC especial after Hakeem works with him more to build his mental stamina! Thats what made Hakeem great wasn’t his ability in a athletic sense his mental approach to the game.He didn’t need a dream team like Miami or the Nets to dominate every night!

  7. BigKev says:

    Now to be honest Indiana was no threat to Miami Heat, the heat was exhausted by the time they got to playoffs after the winning streak! So really we are looking at a stronger and more disciplined heat this coming season and no team is better positioned to take the crown! Remember the lakers with magic days? Well, that’s what you are seeing in Miami, so get your tickets now!

    • Rocketman says:

      A physical team like the bulls creates problems for Miami that sounds more like an excuse Miami has dream team they should able to beat anyone on any night!

  8. Samuel L says:

    Heat Pacers nets Knicks. Bulls pistons Cavs hawks

    • heatfan336 says:

      The key word is chemistry. Who have it the best Miami Heat. Rockets not a chance. Dwight had his chance when he went to the final wit magic wont find another team like he had. They had one of the chemistry that year. Indiana wont make it a good team though. The team for the west is thunder or Clippers. Drose best point guard cp3 and bulls just going get better each year. What’s the different between bulls and heats, the 2 main players. Along as LBJ have a ball n his hands or get trade back to the cavs it no chance. Heat will 3peat like all the greats one ha

      • heatfan336 says:

        Nets playoff nun else. Good team one of the best starting 5 but some of them player isn’t playing the same couple years ago I could of put Dwilliams in the best point spot now idk. Joe Johnson u never going know if he show up or not but the best starting 5 dnt mean nun look wat happen n 04 CHEMISTRY of both side of the ball.

  9. Sean says:

    Wow nobody has faith in Brooklyn huh? If y’all think the clippers had the best off season you guys are crazy Brooklyn had the best offseason and pick ups… Trust me I’m from Houston and I am a die hard rockets fan but you can’t deny the facts Brooklyn IMO is better than the pacers they have the best starting 5 in the NBA and to me the best center in the league..stat wise Lopez is better than Dwight now being a rockets fan I hope Dwight plays alot better this season and takes the best center in the league title back…

  10. Dallas fan says:

    Heat will be challenged by the Pacers, Nets, Bulls and Knicks in the East but will be back in the Finals again with the Spurs who will beat the Warriors in the WCF.PERIOD

  11. Jkid707 says:

    Heat are raw

  12. dora dill says:

    The thunders

  13. Jeff says:

    Bulls all the way, ever since rise the bulls have been the eastern conference best team…(both heats championship, no rose on bulls) and now jimmy butler doing his thing no chance for anyone else.

  14. Tracy Gray says:

    What about the Clippers? Who has a great coach, and tougher Blake Griffin. Or N.Y. With everybody healthy???¿¿¿

  15. OhMyDuncan says:

    Typical media response. The media always put Spurs under the radar. Nowadays, you can’t trust the Media. Its all B.S. How can you toss the Spurs off the window when they were a rebound away from winning the title? Most of them were OUT of their prime and could push Miami to the limit and where is Pacers too? Damn, what Hibbert say was right. He shouldn’t have been fined. Just because the Spurs and Pacers are listed as “Boring”? Since when Winning is Boring? and Lastly, Media is the reason why there is Bandwagons.

  16. Mess Williams says:

    No one likes giving Indiana the respect we deserve…I agree with SeKou…The Pacers pose the biggest threat to the heat. And those picking Houston in this first year together…its Laughable! Houston will have to get away from what they like to do offensively In order to appease howard. They will be better defensively but they aren’t even close to Indiana in that category even with Howard. Indiana solved there dilemma which was poor bench scoring this off season. ..And we get Granger back…Don’t sleep on Naptown!

  17. So the Miami is still the best team in the League. I’m a Houston Rockets fan from Houston. Lets get that out the way. I look forward to Houston and Miami match up in the finals. The Rockets have the potential.to replace them. We will see. If you say nay thats cause you lack objective vision. Perhaps a little bias but I think some non Houston Rockets fan would say the same. The Thunder will have to see tremendous improvement from Ibaka to make me think different. I think Blake Griffin will continue to irritate Chris Paul. He is a force to be reckoned with but is too distract by videos game from GameFly to lead properly. Yes I said it. Make money how you want but there are consequences. The Pacers are gonna be fun to watch. it might become a question on whether the Rockets and Pacer are gonna see each other in the finals. Thats because LeBron is well old news. I think it will be fun for an unpredictable, maybe just different, Finals. Eh it’ll be fun either way. As a Houston fan this season is gonna be freakin AWESOME!

  18. tim tate says:

    is everybody forgotten the Knicks beat the heat every game except one last year and they even beat them without to the top players just thought I’d ask the Knicks should not be Counted out I thought they would be a better match up in the playoffs for the heat

  19. danny says:

    The two teams i see giving Miami a challenge is Chicago and Indiana

  20. 3 will says:

    MY BROOKLYN NETS TAKING IT WE GON WIN DA CHAMPIONSHIP I CANT WAIT TILL WE BEAT THE HEAT THE KNICKS THE PACERS AND THE BULLS I DONT CARE WHAT NOONE SAY WE WILL DOMINATE

  21. Thunderstruck says:

    If Brooklyn is healthy for the playoffs, they can challenge the Heat (if they get a chance to face them.) It will be incredibly tough to beat them, but Paul Pierce and KG are probably still mad that they didn’t beat them in the 2012 playoffs which they SHOULD’VE. But if not Brooklyn, LETS GO CHICAGO FOR EAST CHALLENGERS AND OKC TO THE FINALS!!!!

  22. zayvado says:

    Why weren’t the Brooklyn Nets mentioned? Im not a nets fan but anyone who knows basketball would put them in contention. ..cmon that’s basketball since paul pierce and Kevin Garnet role players whoa they’ll be able to defend any team and score at will…..sleeper

  23. PacersFan87 says:

    I think the Pacers are one of the teams with a really good chance of stopping the Heat, even though the Heat got Greg Oden he’s no match for Roy Hibbert. Oden hasn’t played in a NBA game since Lebron’s hair line started reseeding it’s going to take him a while to get back in the flow of the game and with the addition of Luis Scola and Danny Granger coming back I think this might be a banner year.

  24. Fanaholic_bulls says:

    The rockets are a hype until I see them succeed. I don’t see the clippers making the finals so toss them out of the equation. The spurs and the thunder are the best out west. In the east Miami is the top but by the smallest margin possible because the bulls and pacers (who I think are dead equal right now) will be a problem for Miami

  25. blackmamba_38 says:

    I’m looking forward for the heat vs bulls with the presence of rose…

  26. Dre5D's says:

    Bulls are taking the crown its been long time coming the heat are a bulls wanna be. Pacers got that roster too, eithers bulls or pacers in finals but most likely bulls

  27. Alexis says:

    Lets all be honest Miami heat are gonna win the championship for many years nobody is a threat to the heat it doesn’t matter if any team takes them to 7 games miami is always gonna win as long as they have LeBron wade and bosh

  28. Anthony says:

    No love for the Spurs?? C’mon Man!

  29. KD35 says:

    Heat will not three peat

  30. jaydin says:

    nets swept the pacers last year and with kg and pierce they will be even better than the pacers dont know how they fair agoanst the bulls

  31. jaydin says:

    The Bulls and the Nets are the only teams that can challenge the Heat in the east in the west its Spurs and Thunder

  32. Billy welch says:

    Only the bulls and the pacers, not sold on the clippers at all and thunder is the same team they beat in the finals only worse off now.

  33. bigross says:

    The one thing people seem to forget with these coversations is that the nba is and will always be a business. All these teams have a shot to win the title but its all about marketing and money. In the 80s they marketed bird and magic rivalry. 90s was all about jordan (most popular player nba made tons of money off him and still do) early 2000s was about kobe and shaq and now its lebron. As long as lebron is not injured you can pencil his team in to be in or near the finals until some other player can be as popular and bring in more money for the league. They sale us that he is the greatest player and people buy into it. Its all about MONEY and that’s the way it will stay. Real basketball fans that know the gamewould watch a warriers/pacers final but casual fans wouldnt so the nba doesn’t make enough dollars off that. So while these conversations are fun to have you should know that the most popular players and teams will in the finals.
    Oh btw spurs are great team but they are not there every year because they are considered boring…it wouldn’t surprise me if they reach back to back finals for first time this year for the rematch with heat cause if heat is there there is money whether you are rooting for or against them

  34. J.R.R Trollkien says:

    Until the Heat are beaten they are the Champions and I agree with Sekou’s list, especially the Pacers. To all you Heat haters and Nets and Rockets lobbyist, you’ll be packing away or donating any nba merchandise you buy come april. Forget Houston’s 1-2 punch they won’t even face the Heat’s 3 hit combo in the playoffs, not for a couple years anyway.

  35. Spurs are top contender IF they can get past Thunder. Popovich “owes it” to his team to give them a 5th title in his and Duncan’s tenure. As great of a coach as he is (one of best ever), in the viewpoint of many professionals, it was HE, not the team, “blew it” in the finals. For example: 1st– leaving Ginobli in too long when he CLEARLY was not performing; 2nd–did NOT foul when Heat had ball in game #6, with Spurs’ 3-point lead, and 20 seconds left; and 3rd–Popovich is GREAT in strategy, but time and again, in games, to include #6 & 7 of finals, he failed to get emotions flowing just at the time necessary to hold, if not increase leads. I’ve been a Spurs fan since the mid-1970s, when (in military career), I lived in San Antonio, and went to games—in the George Gervin (“Iceman”) days.

  36. rfjhooper says:

    Indiana is definately the biggest threat. Scola is an upgrade over hansbro and watson actually can handle the ball and shoot unlike Augustine who was terrible. I dont like the Nets as having Kidd as a first year head coach with a team with a one year window is a mistake (George Karl anyone?). Also dont sleep on the Cavs this season. I like the Bynum signing as he is joining the team rather than them building it around him. Jury is out on Rose return explosiveness is a huge part of his game so we will see. In the west the Warriors loom as a potential juggernaught. Will watch them close this year along with the Rockets. GO BEES 2015

  37. DROSEFAN says:

    The Bulls and the Pacers are the main threat to the Heat and im a true fan if those teams unlike the Miami bandwagoners. Miami didn’t care about basketball until Lebron and Bosh came. Bulls are gonna be next years champs

  38. Shady says:

    Brooklyn All Day. Watch Out, Miami~

  39. James fleming says:

    What about the grizzlies

  40. Nofairweatherfan says:

    I do think the Heat still hold up and are the team to beat.. of course. But Indiana has the best chance, and experience, to knock them off of the pedistal. An old KG is still better than a young Chris Bosh, but the Nets will have a lot of growing pains to go through to get anywhere. Knicks are a joke. Rose will be a shadow of his former self at least this season. The west got stronger, and I see either the Clippers or Thunder pushing into the Finals… Both are capable of knocking off the Heat.
    Let LeBron get his 3peat so he go back to the Cavs after next season. He won’t have anything more to do in Miami.

  41. Nofairweatherfan says:

    Oden is a joke!! You people who think the heat will get 20min a night out of him are insane!! He barely played 20/night his entire busted up career! I’d be amazed if he makes it through practice without getting injured. After being off the court for so long and out of shape, his body doesn’t stand a chance. Not to mention he has little to zero experience in the NBA. He’s played a total of 82 games, one nba season technically, in 5 years. The fact that people even think that he’s going to give frickin’ Roy Hibbert problems shows that you know nothing about basketball!!

  42. vince says:

    just wait for the next season dude’s and let’s see who’s going to the top and owe that championship..am i right?.

  43. stan says:

    The nets won’t have chemistry problems they will easily finish top 4 in the east..the difference nets and lakers…is that the nets actually acquired skillfull players

  44. Jerry25 says:

    Replace either Houston or Chicago with Brooklyn Nets, and list is reasonable.

    Heat will not take the regular season as serious as last year. They will have the 3rd best record behind Nets and Pacers, although all 3 should have 57+ wins. For the playoffs don’t expect Oden to be there. Noone was willing to bet on him. Heat were the only team to guarantee a 2nd year (at minimum).

    Chicago has lost 2 important bench players, while adding Rose. They will finish 4th and don’t have what it takes to beat the other 3 teams.

    The only reasons some people in the Media don’t include Nets, is that they think JKidd is an unknown, and think Pierce and KG are too old. Fact is that Nets have Kirilenko, Blatche and Joe Johnson to back them up, and they won’t have to play many minutes this year. They will be ready for playoffs. KG did fine in playoffs last year.

    Also, Lawrence Frank will be the co-coach of the Nets. Frank and Kidd are the IDEAL complement. Kidd gets respect of players and Frank is the best at X’s and O’s and will teach Kidd everything he needs to know.
    Frank and KG/Pierce know each other well. If anything coaching for the Nets will be a HUGE upgrade over last season.

  45. BD says:

    Memphis is legit. its not like they are the only one of these teams to have fallen apart in a playoff series. I think they could improve this year. They added 3 point shooting (mike miller) and retained all there key players that helped them make the conference finals. They have the size to give the heat trouble, they beat the clippers easily last year, and they beat the thunder and i know everyone says its cause westbrook was gone, but im not sure that one player would swing the series 3 games (memphis won 4-1). im not saying they are gonna win, but they are more credible than the rockets, deeper than the thunder, and have more heart than the clippers.

  46. Bryan says:

    Of course you exclude the Spurs. Aren’t you supposed to avoid cliches as a writer, Mr. Smith? Try something fresh next time.

  47. Amz.ph says:

    Miami = Three-peat PERIOD

  48. stormageddon says:

    Houston? Really i dont see it, Howard hasnt shown the capacity to be the dominating offensive force inside. As he gets older, and his explosiveness fades, he will continue to see his offensive totals dip. Personally i feel like the Warriors are possibly the biggest threat from the West, and Indy from the East. Hibbert has in my mind become probably the most well rounded center in the league. The Warriors would present a duo of big men that can work the paint. Combine that with 3-4 good to phenomenal shooters in Iggy, Barnes, Thompson, and Curry. With the added bulk of Barnes, either he or Iggy could be interesting matchups against Lebron

  49. Zan Buchan says:

    Now how are you going to say something so stupid as the Rockets. You REALLY think Howard will miraculously become playoff tough when he is so soft all seaso long. Harden will be sick of him come mid-season.

  50. BonGra says:

    If this list is 5 teams that pose a threat to the Heat, but are not a shoe in to actually dethrone them, it is ridiculous to not include the Nets on this list. This Nets team is built to beat the Heat. Brooklyn’s biggest strengths are at Heat weaknesses (PG and C) and now they bring in two HOF veterans with championship pedigrees who have riled up a severe distaste for the Heat. Not to mention Kidd and Terry both know what it is like to beat the Heat. The Nets are as big a threat to the Heat as any of the teams listed here. Anyone here saying that the Nets are too old, or will be like the Lakers were last year, haven’t taken the two minutes to really look at the Nets roster. It’s way, way, deeper than what the Lakers had and the Nets aren’t relying on their two older guys like the Lakers were. They aren’t the stars of the show, they are “glorified role players.”

    If people want to act like the Pacers are the sure fire no. 2 seed in the East then I think they have a surprise coming in for them. While they addressed their biggest weakness, their upgrades weren’t nearly as substantial the Nets acquisitions and both teams won 49 games last season. The Pacers may definitely have the longer playoff run but if people are expecting them to be the sure fire no. 2 seed ahead of the Nets and Bulls they are mistaken.

  51. b-rad says:

    On paper the Nets are the best team in the east to challenge Miami followed very closely if not tied with the Pacers. Of course teams that look good on paper don’t always work out so we’ll see. Chicago couldn’t get past the heat a few years ago with the same lineup so I don’t see them really being that much of a factor. In the west OKC and the clippers should be tops. With Ginobili looking pretty tired in the finals I have my doubts the spurs can get back to the finals. Somewhere along the line age and injuries will catch up to them. They had their chance i game 6. and sorry Houston fans but just adding an immature overrated DH doesn’t get you their yet!

    • Mark says:

      The Spurs aren’t as old as people are making them out to be. I believe Ginobili will be looking to bounce back (especially since he took the summer off and didn’t play any international basketball). Also, don’t forget about the growth of Kawhi Leonard.

  52. baidobri says:

    As we say in Bulgaria: “The fish is still swiming in the sea but you are already heating the frying pan…” – there is so much time between now and the 2014 playoffs that anything is possible. No one can predict the course of the season, hell nobody knows if this teams will look like this next spring(injuries, trades, under and overachievers) so no point of arguing, we should just wait a bit longer and then enjoy the show :)

  53. Ricardo says:

    The Nets and the Spurs and even the Warriors are clearly above the Rockets. DH won’t ever deliver. Mr. Smith is a big funny clown!

  54. ac says:

    people can say what they want about the knicks but every year since 2010 they’ve gotten better. This year should be no different, they brought back almost their entire team and added several key pieces. I’m not saying they have enough to go all the way, but its worth nothing that they went 3-1 last season against Miami and the one game Miami won Lebron basically put them on their shoulders in the last thirty seconds. Heat fans won’t admit it now because its August, but we made them nervous all season last year. We’ll see what happens.

  55. blow21 says:

    The Knicks??? LoL – you’ve got to be kidding me…

  56. Ty says:

    What about the Warriors????????

  57. gsmscooter22 says:

    You people are all full of it with your, Lakers, Celtics(its OVER FOR THEM) Rockets (with a guy that threw all his teams under the bus? Are you kidding me ? Brooklyn? you beat Indiana when most of their players were out, or suspended, Now they added, Watson, Granger if healthy, Scola, Copeland and others and you think you can beat Miami with Hasbeens? You better worry about the Pacers FIRST ! iNDIANA would be champions now if not for few bad calls in Game 1 of series with Miami, they are the Heat’s Cryptonite with no inside game and without Miller now……

  58. ryan says:

    why arent the Knicks in there? they are a bigger threat this upcoming season more then indiana, l,a clippers and houston rockets are, Knicks are betetr then all those teams

  59. alex says:

    Well i really think that the heat ARE still the best team in the NBA and i feel that some teams can challenge them. They got a big body in Greg Oden and still are loaded with shooters, chalmers and norris cole are young and will have a better season than last year. HOPEFULLY dwyane wade will be healthier than he was last year and he will play at the level everybody knows he can, at the superstar level. And chris bosh just needs to find his game again, i feel like he’s shooting too much from the outside instead of posting up and doing work down there, he was a BEAST with Toronto right before he came to the heat and he can still play to that same level that he did in toronto. Lebron, Man lebron is the best player in the NBA hands down. BUT the thing is he can still improve his game which is crazy, he had his best year ever last year and i think that this year he will improve even more and just dominate the league like we’ve never seen ANYBODY else do. The only teams i think can challenge the heat are the bulls, pacers, and thunder. The bulls are a very physical team and with derrick rose and luol deng healthy i think they can challenge the heat. The pacers are big team and like to slow the game down which isnt necessarily the heats game. And last but not least The Oklahoma CIty Thunder. The thunder, i think in terms of role players and bodies, they have it all. They an EXPLOSIVE amazing point guard in Russell Westbrook, they have a defensive perimeter player in Thabo Sefolosha, they the legit 2nd best player in the NBA in kevin durant, then they have serge ibaka who has been improving his game offensively and his a physical blocking defensive machie down low in the paint. then lastly they have kendrick perkins, a big strong body who can play solid defense in the post. BUT their role players is what concerns me, reggie jackson is decent but he has to play to his full potential, you already know what your gonna get out of nick collison, and then the rest of the team is basically very young players who aren’t proven in the NBA. Deandre liggins, hasheem thabeet, jeremy lamb, steven adams, perry jones III, daniel orton, alex abrines, andre roberson, and grant jerret are their bench and by looking at that, the thunder are not very deep, and DEFINITELY need improvement… but yeah thats what i think about this conversation.

  60. blow21 says:

    Doesn’t hope Nets will ‘pull’ a Lakers – don’t think they will, have better players (without too big ego’s) – Kidd is ofc still a big question… but it all come down to chemistry and staying healthy – If the Nets are at the 4-5 spot when PO time and healthy! They will have a shot a the Heat – predicting game 7!
    And IF they get by the Heat – they will have a legit chance at the title…

  61. Chris says:

    Why is everyone disrespecting the spurs! Do people so easily forget the fact that the Spurs won the finals until the Basketball Gods smited them in the last 30 seconds of game 6

  62. Mark R says:

    Bobcats will win it all!

  63. kobe ballhog says:

    to all the fanboys out there Pacers is the real threat to the heat, bulls 50-50 depends how well can drose still plays, nets can williams really grow up and be the man for them? for the west okc stil up there as long as the greatest scoring machine durant is there, spurs will be there again, clippers just a playoff bound team, houston if dwight will become serious, lakers is the joke of the league as long as kobe still there just after more scoring stats for himself.

  64. preston says:

    I think Brooklyn have a better chance than three teams out of the six that was named. But of course I think Miami is going go take it again they are just to dominant inside and out now with the signing birdman for another year and signing Greg Oden

  65. lobo214 says:

    Who can stop the Heat from winning their third title?
    The same people who helped them win the first two; the officials.

  66. kevo says:

    Keep sleeping on the grizzlies.

  67. lobo214 says:

    Who can stop the Heat from winning their third championship?
    The same people who helped them win the first two, the officials.

  68. lobo214 says:

    Who can stop the Heat from winning their third campionship?
    The same people who helped them win the first two. The officials.

  69. Andre Bardwell says:

    Despite making it through the western conference finals. No one gives the Grizzlies credit

    For shame for shame.

  70. Kola, Lima OH. says:

    I am a big fan of the HEAT!!!!. With no disrespect to other teams in the NBA, the BIGGEST threat to Miami HEAT is the Indiana Pacers. Currently, the PACERS is the only team that is balanced and the roster is excellent. With the acquisition of Luis Scola and the coming back of Danny from injury, the PACERS are the contender for championship. If the HEAT stay healthy especially Dywane Wade and Chris Bosh, the Heat has nothing to fear about beating PACERS. Another team that could pose a challenge again is the NETS. The trio from Celtics ( KG, Pierce and Terry) now in NETS are awesome, Lopez, Kirilenko, Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Livingston are also excellent. I think, the HEAT will not find it easy with those guy on the court. The rest of the teams in the NBA are not any threat to HEAT at all. GO HEAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.

  71. thunder0 says:

    what i want to know is where all these heat fans will go after they lose, because the competition is so tight now. will they just hop from championship favourite to favourite, will they find a team to properly support until the next ‘super team’ emerges? ‘cos i don’t want a load of bandwagon ‘fans’ supporting my team.

  72. thunder0 says:

    what i want to know is where all these heat fans will go after they lose, because the competition is so tight now. will they just hop from championship favourite to favourite, will they find a team to properly support until the next ‘super team’ emerges? ‘cos i don’t want a load of bandwagon fans supporting my team.

  73. Matt says:

    What’s with all the Clipper bashing? With Paul and Griffin, a great duo. And the best bench in basketball. Many have blamed Del Negro partly on their lack of making it anywhere come playoff-time, Rivers is suppose to be better. Plus, they got rid of old man Billups, a definite plus. You could argue they are better than last year. If only they get rid of Jordan, the one real flaw on the team, who makes one-third of his free-throws. Regarding the west, the Spurs are another year older, father time will catch up to them eventually. And the Nuggets will certainly not be up there, Grizz are questionable too. The Warriors? LOL. Don’t make me laugh, one year wonders. The Clippers certainly have the potential for at least a three seed, maybe higher, and could make a good playoff run. Not saying it will happen, but it could. BTW, the Heat are no guarantee, all it takes is a few injuries and they’ll be stopped. The day the East becomes competitive, they aren’t going anywhere. Go Clips!

    • Mark says:

      The Spurs’ Big 3 might be another year older, but as a whole team, they’re not old. And honestly, I don’t think father time will catch up to Timmy. When he retires in a couple of years, he’ll probably still be playing decent.

    • Darius little says:

      Man he fouled.D green at the end, the refs just don’t call fouls in situations like that!!!

  74. Darius little says:

    Man take OKC, the Clippers, and Houston outta there!!! The Spurs have no comp in the West!!! The west is sealed!!! The Bulls and Pacers will win the East!!!

  75. jp says:

    How bout thinking out side the box teams like the pacers , nets, bulls, thunder, clips, houston, and even maybe the knicks will give the 2 time champs a run for the title

  76. bozaobrad says:

    OKC is very weak this season. They wont handle the loss of Kevin Martin

  77. lukten says:

    bias writer writing a biaised article, with 190 comments.
    Its summer holidays and lets enjoy it,
    Talking about 2014 Nba conference finalists and winner is a matter of vanity disguised or intellectual fraud

  78. Lucas976 says:

    How could the spurs not being on this list ??? If they’re is one team that could be a threat to the Heat, that’s the San Antonio Spurs. Come on ! They’re not gonna stop playin well because they lost the Finals !
    Definitely, the Heat will dominate the Eastern conference but the teams that could bother the Heat are all in the Western conference (Spurs, Thunder, maybe Chicago in the Eastern) but c’mon, that’s a lot easier for the Heat to get to the Finals than for the great Western teams !

  79. Rebie says:

    The Pacers and the Bulls are the only threats to the Heat

  80. Patty says:

    Did you really not include the Spurs? I know they are getting old but last season they proved that age isn’t going to bother them much for a while. Plus they will want revenge! #GoSpursGo

  81. george says:

    smh rockets not the nets

  82. thunder0 says:

    all of the heats main competitors have got injuries
    bulls: drose and pretty much all the starters
    thunder: russell westbrook
    pacers: danny granger
    lakers: kobe
    #illuminati

  83. J says:

    warriors are gonna be tough as well

  84. J says:

    pacers cause of their size. the improvement of a few players, more bench depth and the return of granger to SF and George plays a SG or the other way round. that’s a championship team

    bulls cause of derrick rose being back also a championship team

    thunder only if lamb develops as a solid 14-16 points a night scoring starter, Russell westbrook returns to form and they get more from the bench

    I still think with the addition of Greg oden as a big man the heat will be even better and thus will 3peet. but just don’t count out the pacers, bulls or thunder.

  85. htg2828 says:

    I just laugh at the comments people are making about the rockets. U got a happy n healthy dwight howard, that means defensivly nothing is coming toward the paint (top 5 D) and dnt forget 3 time defensive player of the year.. We all know james harden gets virtually anywhere on the floor. Which means u will see alot of lobs to superMan, rockets had the most 3′s made as a team (top 5 O)Dwight will demand the double team..do the math. Its not rocket science! But all we can do is see how the season progress #clutchCity

  86. Tom says:

    Everyone’s forgetting OKC are down Harden and now Kmart. They’re becoming increasingly 2 dimensional and yet they’re still rated #1 in the West.

  87. Don't believe the hype says:

    Why are the Houston Rockets gonna take out the Spurs? The Spurs have two big man who can take out Dwight Howard out of his game – we saw that in the Lakers series. Leonard is better than Parsons and can guard him. Harden performs worse in the playoffs, because he can’t refbate that much. I honestly think the Spurs gonna win the West again. OKC has gotten worse. They lost Kevin Martin. We don’t know will Westbrook be as explosive after the injury. Be it he is 100 % they have nothing around Durant and Westbrook. The Memphis Grizzlies have added nothing and lost a good coach in my opinion. You can make a case that Golden State will get better. They are young and have a lot talent – they can get better. Also by adding Iguodala they will solve some of their defensive woes. Still the Spurs No. 1 player Tony Parker was injuried throughout the playoffs. With him I think they are unstoppable. Spurs is one the best franchises of all-time and gets disrespected, because it is a small market team.

    Houston can take out Spurs?

  88. Christian Loizzi says:

    Im a Clipper fan, but them and the Rockets should not be up there, even with Dwight the Rockets are not complete yet, and Dudley wont cut it as the sf for a championship caliber team. Also writers seriously underrate the Brooklyn Nets and Golden State Warriors both of whom are better than the Rockets and possibly even the Thunder, who havent made a real acquisition and all theyve managed to do was lose that 3rd scorer in kevin martin, so i think its clear that Houston and OKC should not be up there and instead should be Brooklyn and Golden State and those 2 teams actually have a better shot than LAC.

  89. The Truth says:

    And AJ. “SPURS??? what a JOKE.” Really??? I’m sorry, did you miss the NBA Finals? Maybe you have some memory loss from hittin’ the bong too hard? What I’m trying to say is see my comment above. It defines the word LUCKY for you…

  90. The Truth says:

    Lebron like Jordan???…LOL! REALLY?!? The Heat got LUCKY the Spurs choked game 6 away. LUCKY. That’s L-U-C-K-Y. Jordan and those Bulls never needed to get lucky. Jordan didn’t wilt in the last five minutes of games and turn the ball over repeatedly, or shrink away from taking shots. Look, I think Jordan and Lebron both come off as pricks on a human level. But Michael Jordan defined clutch. Lebron James is sometimes clutch. Ultimately, that is the biggest difference between the two.

  91. AJ says:

    SPURS??? what a JOKE.

  92. Tommy says:

    Warriors if healthy are a dangerous team. If bogut is healthy And Klay and Harrison continue to grow and with the addition of igoudala!!! Wow watch out!

  93. DeBoo says:

    Don’t ever dought the hearts of champions! Last piece of the puzzle is solved 7″0 Greg Oden

  94. jaydin says:

    teams in the east that pose a a threat to miami: bulls,pacers,nets

  95. BAYWINNING says:

    WHY IS GOLDEN STATE NOT MENTIONED IN THIS ARTICLE IS DAMN RIDICULOUS EAST COAST BIAS. EVERYONE HERE IN THE GOLDEN STATE KNOWS THE WARRIORS ARE THE BEST TEAM IN CALIFORNIA…..DUHHHHHHHHHH

    BRING IT ANYONE FROM THE OTHER 49 STATES IN FOOTBALL BASKETBALL OR BASEBALL, on any given day we match up with the 49ers Warriors and Giants.

    WHOSE GOT IT BETTER THAN US….NOBODY

    LETS GO SPLASH BROTHERS!!1

    • DeBoo says:

      What the heck are you talking about bro… I think you got your sports mixed up! We are talking basketball not football or baseball or splashing one another lol!

  96. mike johnson says:

    where the heck are the nets!!! and the rockets seriously this is a joke, i mean at least put the spurs at number five not the rockets.

  97. Olegre10 says:

    the West hierachy come the WC semi-finals time: the Thunder, the Warriors and the Clipps. I would very much like to see the Spurs there. But it is very much likely that the Thunder will make it to the Big Finals, although I would much rather like it to be the Warriors.

  98. Mr. Daffodil says:

    For the Western conference finals next season, granting that all players will be healthy or commit less injuries, I’m positive in seeing Clippers-Grizzlies, Clippers-Rockets (if Harden-Howard-Lin chemistry will be perfectly mixed), Clippers-Spurs, Spurs-Grizzlies rematch, Grizzlies-Rockets, or Spurs-Rockets. For the East, probables will be Heat-Bulls, Heat-Knicks, or Heat-Pacers rematch.

  99. AfghanMooolah says:

    Uh…how is Golden State not mentioned in this article?? Someone clearly hasn’t done their research…

  100. Tahj says:

    My Team Lakers Aint Losing To No Heat Kobe Bryant Is Going To Be MVP This Year.

  101. Daniel says:

    Indiana has the best chance to beat the Heat. Signing Scola and getting Granger back are two big additions. Never leave out the Spurs!! They are always a threat with Pop at the helm.

  102. Daniel says:

    If anyone is going to beat the Heat, in a 7 game series; it will be the Pacers, Spurs, or Thunder. They are the only teams that have enough durable depth and advantages in the right spots to ruin the Heat’s run at a 3peat. I like what Brooklyn did, but face it, they are too old and injury prone. Chicago is a very dangerous team, but they always seem to get hurt. If Chicago can meet the Heat at full strength, they might do it. Best chance of taking the Heat out: Indiana. They have the size, the youth and talent. A key signing addition in Scola, and health addition in Granger also gives the Pacers more weapons than before. The Heat lost Mike Miller and added injury prone Greg Oden. Looking forward to the battles between these two teams in particular.

  103. Tarek says:

    People who say the Nets are too old and won’t be good or will be like the the 2013 Lakers are very unintelligent. Paul Pierce is going to have more time to rest on the bench as well as KG, and that means they’ll play efficiently. And OLD?? Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, and Joe johnson??!? Get out of here…

  104. Neek says:

    everyone seems to try and bring in how Lebron made the 3 pointer to tie the game during the finals. thats supposedly makes him clutch and a hero? did you all forget he threw 2-3 shots that missed before making it? thanks to boshs tip rebounds? not a lebron fan not a hater either but stop riding his nuts and watch the actual game.

  105. Chicago! says:

    The Spurs are once again tossed out of the window…
    As usual. -_-

  106. James says:

    It will be heat vs lakers next season. Because everyone will want to see that Kobe/Lebron match up, and it will be a good way for the new commissioner to start his mark on the game

  107. Jonathan says:

    San Antonio is old and won’t make it past the wc semifinals. The teams are always tough in the west, now you through in that every playoff team besides the lakers, grizzlies and nuggets have improved. It’ll be tough for the spurs to even get to the western conference finals. I feel the spurs don’t have it anymore

  108. lethal Lito says:

    *murdered the heat

  109. lethal Lito says:

    KNICKS ARE A THREAT TO EVERY TEAM! Are you guys blind? They were 2nd in the east last yr….made it to the semifinals took on pacers to 6 teams…all with a hurt melo,jr at his worst and couple injuries..novak was barely used too.Season wise melo was incredible…jr was incredible….stat basically didnt play…couple injurys early on….wallace etc. oldest roster in the league i believe and still look at thier damage! LOOK THE KNICKS GOT YOUNGER AND MUCH MORE SOLID…A ROSTER WITH DEPTH ! Stat prolly fully recovered and with melo with mind set of WIN NOW cause next yr he can opt out!! Knicks out there to WIN IT! P.s.,Dont 4get they MURDERED the in the season 3-1 …yea one game with out lebron and wade right? Well dnt forget 1 game without melo and stat aswell and heat had bron and wade on that 1 ~ addition : MWP/Tim Hardaway jr/Bargani/Tyler/ K MART = Strong DEFENSE …nice OFFENSE addition! #Knickstape

  110. MDM says:

    Ok who do the rockets really have besides Harden and Howard, Jeremy lin can’t hang in with D-will

  111. artagnan says:

    IN MY OPINION PACERS IS THE BEST CONTENDER THIS YEAR BUT STILL MIAMI WILL GET THAT 3PEAT, NO ONE CAN BEAT THEM AMONG THE WEST TEAM IN FINALS. IN ADDITION SPURS NEVER GOT A BACK2BACK APPEARANCE IN FINALS, OKC BETTER DURANT (STILL LESS HARDEN) WESTBROOK I DONT CARE, HOUSTON HO.WARD I THINK HAS AN ATTITUDE PROBLEM. CLIPPERS HMMM NO IDEA INEXPERIENCE MAYBE SAME WITH WARRIORS AND GRIZZLIES.. LETS GO HEAT FOR THAT 3PEAT…

  112. MDM says:

    How to the Nets not make that list i put the nets over the rockets any day with what they’ve done in the off season they Have three players who know what it takes and will be leaders in terry, Paul, and garnet, all star caliber players like D-Will Brook Lopez, and Joe Johnson.

  113. Eric says:

    I agree with all the teams but I would swap Houston with the Brooklyn Nets. There is enough veteran playoff experience there; paired with a few nemesises in Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett could certainly give the Heat fits.

  114. Tha Bash Master says:

    In my opinion, the biggest threat to another Miami championship win this coming season is the Indiana Pacers. I’m a Miami fan, no doubt about it. But, I cant ignore the talent the Pacers have. That team is stacked full of talented individuals who are both skilled and hungry. With the additions they made in the off-season, they became the NBA’s best “team”…in theory. The way they performed in the EC Finals last year was memorable.

    However, I’m both anxious and excited to see how Brooklyn does. They have the stars. If they can gain an immediate team chemistry they’re going to be dangerous. Real dangerous.

  115. bullsfannnn says:

    Good Bulls!!!!

  116. Chase says:

    Sekou, you are a well respected NBA writer and have written many great articles. However, discounting the Spurs after their performance last season is foolish. They proved they were head and shoulders above the Western Conference save maybe a healthy OKC. Putting the Clippers whom have proven nothing, and the Rockets ahead of San Antonio is ridiculous. After seeing Howard implode last year and prove that he can not lead a team or act like a grown man shows does not then make the Rockets a true contender. Call me crazy but the Spurs find a way to amaze everyone every year so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Duncan and Pop getting to the promise land next season.

  117. Danny says:

    Its funny because the last time I checked, the Chicago Bulls is the only team that is not afraid to get physical with Lebron and the Heat. As a big Heat fan, I say that the Chicago Bulls is the only team in the NBA that is capable of beating Lebron Jameas and the Heat.

    • phillyboy88 says:

      Really? Is that what you saw the “last time you checked”? Well, you must not have watched ANY of the Heat-Pacers series. That has got to be one of the dumbest comments I’ve read today.

  118. Cat says:

    I believe that the Raptors are the biggest threat to Miami

  119. mick says:

    No Bulls? Really? Just wait and see what the bulls have in store this year. I still believe we are a much better team than Indiana! Yet they are a lot more feared for some reason? Look at all the match ups with Bulls against Indiana. It’s pretty even except we have a better coach and we have a D Rose now.

  120. Kal says:

    i think there is only one team that can beat The Miami Heat…

    and it is The Miami Heat.

    if they shoot themselves in the foot aka. Wade hobbles and LeBron chokes…

  121. Kal says:

    The Clippers?? worse roster than they had last year. a better coach but a conference finals team at very best.

    and what about The Nets?

  122. Explorer says:

    In HARD BALL .. the BIGGEST threats is INJURY. They are all have a chance to be the next champion.
    What should be focus now is to upgrade your roster that will be able to sustain for the playoff… GO HEAT for the 7peat….

    • knicks33 says:

      hes right about the nets not being there but i dont think the clippers will be a threat . and i hate how everybody forgets about the knicks. im not just sayin that cuz imma ny fan but the ECF will be knicks and heat and WCF warriors and thunder

    • dustydreamnz says:

      Yeah, injuries and chemistry it will come down to. Wade’s knee, Oden’s knee. Maybe he left the Spurs out to gain attention? They’re in the top 5 nearly every year.

  123. Rockets Fan says:

    I can’t wait until my Rockets shut all of you up. I mean come on, with the Harden and Howard pick and roll they are unstoppable, they improved on defense by signing Dwight, and they have great spot up shooters all around them! Great offense and good defense that will obviously improve from now until the playoffs. They are strong all around unlike the Clippers who can’t rely on centers like Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. The Rockets have D12 and Omer Asik. They’ll put all other NBA centers to shame any day and Harden is clearly a superstar. Chandler Parsons is extremely underrated and is a great shooter and defender and has some great moves in the paint too. The Houston Rockets have no threat so will everyone please stop questioning whether or not they belong on this list. They are indeed the biggest threat to the Miami Heat. The Houston Rockets are clearly taking the championship home.

  124. tiponko says:

    None of these teams should make that list, the biggest threat to the heat three-peat is health, period! Just imagine Wade and Oden being healthy. Im just saying!

  125. Omar Prieto says:

    The Brooklyn nets should be there the bulls shouldn’t be there Derrick rose hasn’t played for a season he needs to get used to playing he’s not same old Rose in 2010 the nets has peirce garnet terry and ak47 also the big 3 d-will Lopez and joe clutch bulls will be done In the semifinals bkn will face the heat in the east finals

  126. Neek says:

    This is the stupidest article written ever. where do i start? With all do respect to Lebron. He is still not the clutch player that anyone says he is suppose to be. a few clutch moments doesnt make u clutch. he and the heat got saved by ray allen and chris bosh, which i believe were both lucky shots and plays. and for those that think that ray allen wasnt lucky i highly doubt it. no matter how great u are in 3 pt shooting that shot was luck. dont matter if it was larry bird, steph curry, or reggie miller shooting it in that moment.i think its luck.

    counting the spurs out of this article is why i said this article is pretty stupid. you are talking about the only team that looked dominant in the play offs excluding the warrior vs spurs series. i am a warrior fan and not including the warriors in this stupid article is pretty stupid. their run for the play offs was no fluke. they were above .500 and didnt really sweat on trying to make the playoffs like lakers and houston.

    LA clippers? seriously? yeah they got the stars, but we all know blake griffin is all hype and dunks. i would leave him open in the open floor any day. we all know cp3 runs that team and for them to make it to the playoffs he needs to pull a david lee double double season for the play offs. and come on. warriors killed this team and curry killed cp3 in a one on one match up. haters can react but u know deep down its the truth.

    houston….eh its howard who the hell knows what will happens.

    but personally i think it will be heat vs okc again during the finals. if not okc then spurs. if not heat then indiana. and seriously nba needs to fix their ratings on the warriors. shut me up when the season is over and they are not in the playoffs.

  127. marty says:

    I don’t believe any of these teams can beat the Heat in 7..They are the best two way team in the league right now. .PERIOD!!!

  128. jocen says:

    @Don’t ever CLICK MY NAME!!!! You Have been warned

    Seriously nets? come on they look good only on paper!

  129. DJhunter says:

    everybody seems to be sleeping on the Knicks. They may not be the best team in the league right now but i think that they can make the finals. If Stoudemire can stay healthy and Bargnani can stay efficient they have to major threats at the 4. Bargnani can spread the floor and give Carmelo more scoring options besides him and JR. The Knicks also have a few great defenders to pick up the slack. Shumpert can guard up to a small Power Forward. Metta World Peace and Tyson Chandler play some good tough D. Shumpert is also seriously stepping up his offensive game. Raymond Felton is not the best point guard but he did very good last year. The only thing keeping them back is ball movement and Defense. When the Knicks share the sugar they are just a huge powerhouse, but often Melo gets stuck with the ball in his hands. The knicks are just a raw scoring team and hopefully they can use that to their advantage.

  130. Mobp says:

    Don’t forget about the pistons!!!!

  131. Ferdz says:

    HBomb, 4H, HOUSTON-HOWARD-HARDEN-mcHALE. slashBANG from the beard, swatBANG from D12, wit of hale. Houston is the team to watch.

  132. Kobe-Lebron-Carmelo-Pau-Steve@Manila says:

    Hey.. Where is the Lakers.. Just want you to know that LA is still a contender.. Why? Because DH in not in LA anymore.. So, count LA in there.. GO LA!!! Go and beat Houston..

  133. iwazhere says:

    u know whos gonna stop them the bobcats

  134. Trey says:

    I’m a true Heat fan I’m sure if we play our game we can’t be beat,but those bulls n pacers r scary.The heat should 4give Deshawn Stevenson we need more perimeter Defense to take the load off Lebron and Wade. Either way #3peat!

  135. Jordan says:

    The Heat didn’t sign Greg Oden to play a lot of minutes. They just need him to allow Bosh to play power forward again. Bosh is much better at pf than at c so it really was a good pick up by the Heat. Only time will tell just how good though. Also, the Spurs and Warriors should be on this list. The Spurs almost had them last year and the Warriors were fantastic and improved immensely by signing Andre Iguodala. He will give them a possible LeBron stopper. The Rockets don’t deserve to be on this list. Howard is overrated and will destroy any team chemistry they had before. Clippers just aren’t good enough yet. And for everyone saying the Nets should be on the list…look at what happened to the Lakers last year. It shows how important team chemistry is and the Nets won’t have any.

  136. Adriel says:

    Heat, all the way. There’s nobody stopping those guys.

  137. Tom says:

    Leaving out the spurs makes the list invalid, including the Clippers makes it a joke.

  138. !!nba!! says:

    the heat are going to be stopped this year.. by the way, they should get rid of bosh. he doesnt do anything, when he was a raptor he was good. what does he do? nothing. big 3? hell no! dynamic duo wade and lebron.

    BATMAN – LEBRON
    ROBIN- WADE
    BUTLER- BOSH

  139. Anthony says:

    Don’t be jealous the L A Lakers will still reign in the western conference final

  140. tony barnett says:

    The east like this: 1.Ind
    2.Mia
    3.Chi
    4.Brk
    5.Nyk
    6.Det
    7.Bos
    8.Atl

    • clyde says:

      Good look on the standings..i dont think boston will make the playoffs though. Watch those cavs!

  141. Moo32 says:

    Clearly, there are more than just five teams, other than the Heat, that can win it all. All five teams on this list have a good chance. Personally, I believe that the Warriors and Spurs have a better chance than most of the teams on this list. And yes, the Heat can definitely be beat!

  142. AK says:

    Don’t get me wrong I’m KING
    JAMES fan but if D Rose come back right watch out

  143. lebron boy says:

    miami is going to do a 3peat

  144. Common Sense says:

    The Spurs are legit contenders, man.
    Every season for the last hmmm… 5 seasons these nba.com journalists have to doubt the Spurs.
    All I am sayin is that the Spurs will make another run at it.
    Also putting the Rockets on this list is silly. They haven’t even played one game…
    Ahh I really get annoyed by these articals sometimes.

  145. DC3 says:

    Spurs were 25 seconds away from winning the title and there not a threat to finish the job? How under the radar my team is.

  146. marty says:

    The only threat to the heat are the heat. If theyplay their full potential no one can beat them four out of seven games. All these teams that “got stronger” to beat the heat mayvery well get upset in the first round. For the simple fact they are too focused on the heat instead of the opponent in front of them.

  147. Tom says:

    Can they win again, yes it’s possible, I don’t see any reason why they can’t. Will they win again I don’t know, but they won the last two years so they can definitely do it again. I do believe the Conference Finals and Finals will be close again unless they get one or two solid big men who can nullify the advantage the Spurs and Pacers had over them down low.

  148. ProfessorSheep says:

    It is so great and nice to see everyone talking about who is going to win the title next year and who is going to stop the Heats. But why not just sit back and relax. No need for speculation or picking on one another because of someone saying one team is going to win an another person disagree. How about just let next season do all the talking. There is a lot of talented players and a lot of better teams this year then last year because of all the trades and draft. Let’s just sit back and let the season do all the talking. We got about ten months before the Final starts again. So just enjoy the rest of summer, then thanksgiving, then Christmas, then New Years, and then Easter. After all of this the NBA playoff will kick into gear and we will see which two teams, one from West and one from East make it to the Final. This is when we will debate who will win the Final. Hope everyone is having a fantastic summer. Wish you a continual great summer.

  149. Roy says:

    If the Pacers brought had a lead 1 year ago in their Miami series then brought them to 7 games this year. Just think about what they’re going to do this year. They could legitimately beat them. I don’t think the Bulls will make it past the second round this year. The Nets will make the 2nd round probly but bust out. The East is pretty much Miami’s.

    As for the West, well all those top 6 teams are really scary so I’d watch out.

    • Atrev says:

      Spurs will get back funny how people mentioned age but okc lost Kmart and don’t have dept that spurs do and clips lost billips and Bledsoe and with the addition of belineli don’t count them out. Looking for revenge only team that really stands in the way the improve with ai and j oniel Spurs spurs

    • D Will says:

      Woah woah woah, slow down people. Some of this just doesn’t make any sense to me. How can teams like OKC or Chicago beat the Heat now when they have made no real improvements since Miami last beat them? Since the Heat have beaten OKC and Chicago they’ve gotten Allen and Oden. 2 obvious improvements. WHAT DID CHI AND OKC DO? As for teams like the Nets and Housten they just won’t have enough chemistry in their first year to even get to Miami. The legit teams may be the Pacers, but even with Oden playing 25 mins, he’ll force the Pacers to tweak that strategy a bit. Even if the Spurs gwt lucky and make it to the finals again they will still have to hopw that someone like Green is averaging 5 3s per game again because if not they can’t win

  150. LA LA Land fading says:

    Every year we say that the pacers will beat the heat, but they had their chance the last 2 years and they failed miserably.
    So i guess Miami is going to have its three-peat ;) .

    • sammmmmmmmy says:

      dude they were lucky this year, spurs lost the finals the heat didnt win. lol

    • crazymaso says:

      How in the world is taking the eventual champs to a very competitive 7 game ECF series “failing miserably”?

      I wonder if you even watched the series at all.

  151. Ballout No NBA says:

    nobody gon beat the heat!!!!!!!!!!!!! #3peat

  152. asdf says:

    I honestly believe that Pacers are better than the Heat now, something that Hangtime writers hinted at themselves but seem to forget it under the pressure of NBA riding LeBron to get money. They pointed out that Pacers starting five outplayed Heat’s starting five in the series and that the difference was in the bench, which the Pacers greatly improved, likely to the point of it getting better than Heat’s bench. With this in mind how can HT still claim that Heat are the main favorites to win the title when they were not that sure of it during ECF and the Finals this year.

  153. CAVS!!!! says:

    Anyone else thinkin’ the Warriors instead of the Rockets?

  154. twinm85 says:

    drop the proven (spurs) and add the unproven (rockets, clippers). oh yeah, that’s always the smartest approach. your reasoning for dropping the spurs as a contender all together is as weak as they get. telling people “not to cast stones” is a definitie sign of weakness and doubt in your own opinion. if you’re too scared to take the heat for leaving out a definite contender, then don’t write at all.

  155. NBAFan says:

    Honestly,Heat have the best team on paper and on the pitch,but sometimes well-oiled chemistry and experience like Spurs’ can overwhelm any nba all star first team.So,being fair,Heat have the biggest chances this year again,but they are fairly beatable if they drop the series to a game 7 in the playoffs (Lebron’s and Bosh’s plays are deeply affected by their morale many times and when the game is on the line,they sometimes cannnot give even a 60% of their capacity).Thus,a Derrick Rose centered Bulls or a competitive Pacers team like last season could throw them out before they’ll ever notice.

    • Kramlessur says:

      I agree with ur comment about Bosh. But for LBJ? Are you serious? Stats shows that LBJ perform far beyond expectation during elimination games. Did you watch game 7 of ’12-’13 Finals that’s one of LBJ stellar performances. Dude do some research before posting non-sense.

      • NBAFan says:

        Lebron is at the moment the most dependable,no doubt,almost perfect from any point of view…but before 2011-2012 season,before his first ring,he didn’t have so much composure on late game situations,you know…And maybe I was wrong when I said that,but every time I see Heat behind in the 4th quarter I can’t forget those images of Lebron missing free throws in 4th quarter with his team behind.Lebron’s biggest enemy right now in this league is only himself(btw I am a Heat fan from the moment when I started watching nba 4 years ago and Lebron is my favourite player,so I am not trying to paint him black)

  156. tobi says:

    OKC v Indiana fila I reckon

  157. OMGod.... says:

    2010-2011 BULLS > 2013-2014 BULLS

    2013-2014 HEAT > 2010-2011 HEAT

    2010-2011 HEAT beat the hell out of the 2010-2011 BULLS..

    need i say more???

    • Bullsfan33 says:

      I don’t get how everyone is sleeping on the bulls. They gritted out a whole season without there MVP point guard, beat a solid nets team in the playoffs, then best the heat in the first game of series without loul deng and Kirk hinrich, there two best perimeter defenders. They were using there third and fourth string point gaurds off the bench, no offense to Nate, but he was to small to be playing that many minutes, to big of a mismatch. The team is basically the same, Marco is gone but they got dunleavy instead and they’re basically the same style of player. Only difference about this year is they bring back there MVP point guard and a jimmy butler who’s getting better and better. They have more than a good shot of beating the heat.

      • Kei says:

        LOVE the bulls! BUT face it, it all depends on #1. If he’s not better than before, bulls don’t get a chance to knock heat off. In reality dun is no Marc and nate is a huge loss but Bulls’s supporting cast is in good shape. Deng, Jimmy, Booz, Noah are depenable. All on Rose now. Remember Rose’s MVP season and Lebron just crushed him in the playoffs? Rose needs to be healthy and obviously get better. #WINDYCITY

    • Bullsfan says:

      How can you say that when Noah and Deng were not all stars then.

  158. Howitzer says:

    The Heat are their own worst enemy. Health, complacency, and falling into the trap of relying too much on some ‘switch’ could derail any plans of 3-peating.

    Then I’ll put the Pacers second, as they are the #1 threat in the East to keep the Heat from even making the Finals. Personally though, unless Granger dramatically improves his game, he is overrated. Scoring alot of points inefficiently isn’t exactly something worthy of praise. Granger has been inefficient his entire career, so its up to him to prove otherwise. I don’t view his presence as a positive or a negative thing. The Pacers have upgraded their bench, so that’s where they have become a greater challenge for the Heat.

    The Thunder/Spurs are third, and I’m leaning towards the Spurs as they have improved while the Thunder lost Martin and haven’t really made up for it.

    Warriors/Bulls are 4th. Bulls obviously get the priority as they could prevent the Heat from returning to the Finals. The Bulls haven’t made many positive moves lately, and they are not as good as they were in 2011. The Warriors have made some moves, and are slightly improved from last year. Losing Landry and Jack didn’t help, but adding Iguodala should make up for it.

    Then its Nyets/Rockets. Garnett and PP have yet to show up for the Playoffs since they joined forces, so they get the benefit of the doubt on that front. As long as J Kidd manages everyone’s minutes effectively in the reg season, the Nyets could do some serious damage in the Playoffs. And they should come out of the reg season with a pretty good record, given their depth. The Rockets are dangerous, and if they happen to get hot from 3 in the playoffs, they could possibly cruise to a title. Dwight and Harden can put teams in serious foul trouble early and often. The are a dark horse.

  159. Tim says:

    Spurs Spurs Spurs

  160. RonPaul says:

    The Bulls, Nets, Rockets, and Thunder are speculative at being elite teams. While I don’t doubt it, knee injuries and reoccuring injuries can be fickle things. I wouldn’t say that the bulls are elite status yet, they lost Nate Robinson the guy who pushed them into that 2nd round. The Rockets and Nets need to see how well their new players mesh together, getting Howard doesn’t mean you are great look at the Lake show.

  161. Popoy says:

    again another nonsense article.. cheers!

  162. S. Smiths an idiot!! says:

    The Spurs may never been to back to back Finals but guess what, they never lost a Finals either!! Thats just more motivation to knock off them Miami cHeats!! Stern will be gone too!! Can’t wait till next season!!

    • Wade says:

      The Spurs are 4-1 in the finals, they lost to the Heat.

      • S. Smiths an idiot!! says:

        Thats My Point! Saying the Spurs won’t make a back to back Finals is like saying since the Spurs never lost a Finals, they never will!…ALL BS! Spurs and S.A. still feels that loss to this day, and like when the Spurs lost to OKC, it was motivation to play better the next year! Spurs just got better adding Belinelli, and with Kawhi and Green’s development plus Manu and TD last 2 years to play… It’s over for all other teams!! I’m going to call it now NOT ONLY ARE THE SPURS GOING BACK TO THE FINALS, SPURS ARE GOING TO WIN THE NBA FINALS 2014 & 2015 BACK TO BACK!! I know you all are going to have your opinion and that’s nice and all but mark my words!! TD and Manu going out in style! TD with 6 and Manu with 5!!

  163. stupid says:

    houston wouldnt even get into the top 3 seed let alone be a threat to a heat they can cause trouble coz dwight in the pain but not a threat they might not even make it to the conferance finals if kd russell westbrook and james harden couldnt beat the heat i dont think dwight and james would

  164. Confidence says:

    Pacers pose the biggest threat in the East against Miami. Paul George and now Danny Granger coming back…We already know about Hibbert and West. They have a stacked lineup and they play way above average defense. Great Head Coach, Larry Bird back at the helm. Forget about it. This is the Eastern Confernce Finals showdown all day! Bulls could slip in there but other than that, forget it.

    • AD says:

      I agree, Given the outcome of the last season’s playoffs, the Pacers pose the greatest threat (especially with the acquisition of Scola). Which is not to say that the Pacers are guaranteed a victory against the Heat. The Pacers were in full strength in 2012 (with a roster similar to the current one) but were nevertheless beaten by the Big 2 (as Bosh went down with a strain). Great teams always find ways to win. And the Heat have proved it on numerous occasions (Pacers in ’12, Celtics in ’12, Pacers in ’13, Spurs in ’13).

  165. Elove2323 says:

    First off before you all go with who will be the heats in the east. Heats are automatically going to have 1 seed which brings us to the other teams. nets, knicks, pacers, pistons, bulls, all got to be beat each other before playing the heats. which means who know who gonna come up top. More than likely it will be either the pacers or bulls in the conference finals against the heats. nets got kg and pp but they are age. Why did you think boston let em go? so nets maybe semi finals. knicks ball hog so not going there. My point is these teams everybody call out have to worry about surviving the playoffs before jumping the gun. The east is stack so it won’t be easy this year.

  166. kenny says:

    the teams that have the best change of betting the heat are the pacers bulls nets thunder rockets and spurs

  167. CURTIS78 says:

    hahahaHAHAHA COME ON! HEAT WINS THIS YEAR! U COULD IMAGINE IF GREG ODEN WOULB GET HEALTHY!?
    THE ONLY TEAM THAT CAN BEAT MIAMI IS INDIANA, NOT CLIPPERS, NOT OKC , NOT HOUSTON, NO TEAM!

  168. GAW says:

    Pacers in 6 against any team!

    • AD says:

      I personally think that Randolph and Gasol are a better combo than Hibbert and West. Consequently I would venture to say that in a 7 game series MEM can beat IND. Now that I think about it, that would be a pretty cool match-up.

      • whoa says:

        Really? That duo couldn’t even beat Tim Duncan.. The pacers are clearly a better team

      • AD says:

        @whoa – umm no. what you are actually saying is that Spurs are better than Memphis. That made no sense, since Pacers did not play the Spurs in the Playoffs. And the two games that they played during the regular season, the Spurs beat them on both occasions. So, what are you really saying?

  169. Ssssssssss says:

    I don’t agree that the clips and rockets are a real threat to the heat, but the other ones are just fine. I think that Chicago( with a healthy roster ) is much better suited to finally take down the champs and end this annoyance from heat fans than any other team in the league

  170. Really? says:

    so you dont put the team that almost beat the heat in game 6 and 7 in the top 5 teams to dethrone the champs? Sekou really?!?

  171. Julio says:

    LOL Mr. Smith… with the finals that Spurs had, i doubt they would have lost to Thunders.
    Think Thunder is just overrated, once its a 2-guys team.
    Playoffs are different. What would have happened to the Heat without the unbelieveble Allen’s shot at the game 6? Teams needs they players doing their finest basketball to go ahead
    Thunder is just young and wild, and Spurs have rested their players many times during the regular season…that’s why Thunder had a better regular season. Spurs had a plan for the whole season, and that’s what makes them always dangerous and always a team to watch out…

  172. Emils says:

    no gsw, really?

  173. OctoPPus says:

    REFS – the COOLEST TEAM !!!!
    of all -

    who will be helped – that team will win

  174. Reemo says:

    All of you guys have lost your minds, the Bulls, IF Healthy, are the biggest threat to Miami. Crazy that some here would put Houston before the Bulls….smh.

  175. Freida says:

    LeBron James is the best basketball player in the world. Enough said.

  176. AKA says:

    liek if u tink hatrs gona kry wen heat 3peat

    • hi says:

      First of all . . . this is not Facebook.
      Second of all . . . the Heat are going to find much better teams waiting for them at this year’s Finals. I’m a Heat fan, I’m just telling the truth.
      Third . . . WTF do you even know how to spell properly?

  177. JMaine says:

    Ok I’m a Lebron fan and basketball lover. There is only two comments that made sense. Heat health and the Pacers. The rest of ya’ll are coming up with fantasy ideas. Anyone who think OKC can beat the heat do not know basketball. What the last move that team made to get better n not free up salary. Lebron and the heat are not the same team they were in 2011-2012 season, and OKC is not even as good as they were then now. Me, I really don’t have any prediction like Heat win it all, to be honest I don’t think they’ll make it past the ECF if they make it that far. I’ll be rooting for them anyways. I love the hate it keeps me going. Just hope the finals are fun to watch if the Heat are not in it. Haters enjoy your summer off. see you opening night.

  178. natan says:

    durant is donna win next championship

  179. Chris says:

    Why aren’t the nets in this discussion?

  180. matthew mathis says:

    everyone knows the biggest threat to any team is a healthy laker SQUAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  181. NYCBBallFan says:

    The only team listed that MAYBE can stop the Heat are the Pacers. The Thunder are not a Championship team without RW. When he returns, he will be rusty from surgery and lack of playing time. They could make the Playoffs, but they aren’t going to get very far this yr. Bulls, love their tough style of play, but Rose will be rusty, and most likely they will be worn out by the time they would play the Heat. The Clipps will win in time, but not anytime soon. Doc’s a great coach, but I highly doubt he will coach them to a Finals his first yr there. I am expecting a decent playoff run though. The Rockets are nowhere near skilled or experienced enough to beat the Heat, even with D12.

  182. TheAll-Star136 says:

    The Heat don’t fear any of those teams. They only fear injuries. They need to stay healthy. I hope.

  183. Rambo says:

    Heat are obviously the front runner for the time being, but next year is gonna have twice as much competition in store for them. pacers are stacked, nets are stacked with talent, but not with chemistry. this isnt nba live people, you dont trade a team to win a championship, it doesnt work that way in real life. houston will be good, not better than miami though or okc or golden state of spurs. portland is also on the rise with lillard and aldirdge, batum, mccolum

  184. Treat the Heat 2014* says:

    Getting Greg Oden was Miami’s piece to become 2014 NBA champs. We all know Miami can beat you in transition, the problem they have is in size. Birdman and joel Anthony are not great centers and bosh is a true 4. The only TRUE problem they had last year was Roy Hibbert, and Tim Duncan.. We don’t need G.O to play everynight… or 35+ min… We just need his 7’3 frame to contend against and neutralize the center position so now LBJ and DW can do their thing. Just imagine all the screens that monster is gona set and all the lobs he will be able to recive from a 6’8 LBJ… Gonna be fun to watch!

    • Marcus A says:

      Dude, every sentence regarding Oden will start off like “if Oden can stay healthy, the Heat can…” if the Heat do win, and I stress IF, then Oden would have a very small contribution to it.

    • AD says:

      Don’t get your hopes up. Let’s see if the big fella can stay healthy. But it would be pretty awesome.

    • AG Coleman says:

      Everything u just said was one of the most accurate things I’ve heard! The heat can win another championship without Greg Oden granted it will be a hard fought battle without that bigman presence they so desperately need But they have LeBron James people can not like him all they want but this guy is 6 “8 250 and move s faster than most guard he is a freak of nature!! But teams like the pacers and the bulls will be a problem for us if Oden can not stay healthy because of there size and athleticism but if Iden can stay healthy we

    • aaaaaa says:

      There’s only like a 30% of Oden even playing this year…. Don’t get your hopes up

      • Treat the heat 2014* says:

        that 30% we will reserve for nights when we play half court oriented teams who play from the inside out with their big man! there’s only like 30% of the teams now in the nba that run half court, the other 70% play small ball/transition.. So 30% is all we need from Oden.

  185. Chris says:

    Can someone once give the Spurs the credibility they deserve? I am a Heat fan, but did you miss the finals? Why do you reporters always leave the Spurs out?

  186. jamie says:

    How can u leave the spurs or warriors out of this? Sure houston will be better but that doesnt mean they can challenge the heat. Everybody always leaves out the spurs in these kind of conversations. Also the warriors will be beast on both ends of the floor

    • hi says:

      Exactly. Houston doesn’t stand a chance against the Heat . . . but the Spurs had a chance to finish them, and they nearly did.

  187. Henry says:

    Why are the Nets not here?

  188. Heat Hater says:

    East: Pacers in 6 over the Heat, even if the latter remain healthy. Honorable mention to Nets, Bulls.

    West: OKC, unless D12 becomes a BETTER player and the Spurs get better, in which case it’s a wide open field.

    Finals: Pacers win finals in 6, regardless of the opponent.

    • kenny says:

      I’m a heat hatter to and I agree that the pacers will make the finals but I think the Thunder have a chance against them

      • hi says:

        *hater
        I think the Heat are a great team (one of my favourites?) and I don’t hate them at all, but I agree . . . no threepeat for them. I’m not a Pacers fan (I respect their great talent, but I’m just not a fan) but I think they will definitely make it at least as far as the Heat, or possibly even further (Finals doesn’t seem like a stretch at all for this team).
        By the way, to all you “Heat haters” out there, you’re just telling us that you don’t respect this team’s talent at all, and that the only reason why you hate them is because everyone else loves them. Just saying . . .

    • Marcus A says:

      You obviously live in Indiana. No one outside of that state have the Pacers winning it all. Funny, even without Rose, Pacers won the division by 4 or 4.5 games enroute to a paltry 49 wins. Lol!

      • phillyboy88 says:

        So what? Did you watch the inspired play of the Bulls last season? Give them some credit. In any situation, any team is going to do whatever they can to win. Whether it’s by 4 games or 4.5 games. Keep sellin’ those Pacers short…they ain’t no joke. And no…you can tell by my handle. I AIN’T from Indiana.

      • clyde says:

        Finally a sixers fan!

  189. Jimmy Buckets says:

    Forgot Spurs and Warriors.

  190. lee says:

    the bulls are deff a big threat i think the need to trade boozer for a stretch 4 why his stock is high i would consider trading deng for the right player but the need a stretch 4 i think the should o for bosh his stock is low i think the heat would do a boozer for bosh trade in a heart beat the would get a banger for a softy but coach tom thib would make bosh a star again have him playing d and shooting from his range instead moving out to the 3 line i think this line up looks like a winning 1
    rose
    butler
    deng
    bosh
    noah
    that would be the best starting 5 in the league and the now have good shooting options off the bench and everyone knows their going to play good d i would even swap boozer gibson for bosh and battier trade maybe even throw them a couple of picks battier can play 2 and 3 shoots the 3 good and is a great defender the bulls need to look into their options if the want to go all the way but the have the best chance if the will just realize it

    • hibbs says:

      bosh is better than boozer.

    • Bulls says:

      I like the thought of Trading Boozer and Deng for the right players, however I wouldn’t trade Boozer for Bosh. Bosh and Boozer have a very similar game so your basically making a lateral move. I would trade Boozer and Captain Kirk for a guy like Lamarcus Aldridge who is still fairly young, has the ability to stretch the floor, but he also has the ability to bang and rebound. Aldridge has already talked about getting out of Portland, so it might be someone Chicago can get for a little cheaper than they normally would. They might need to throw someone else in besides Kirk but if they could build a package around Boozer, Kirk and someone else, it would be a solid deal. I would like to even see Aldridge and Batum for Boozer, Deng, and Kirk. Basically making a lateral trade, but Batum can score but doesn’t need to, he is content just playing D and hustling, so they could leave the scoring to Rose, Butler, and Aldridge. If they don’t trade them though I wouldn’t mind, I like Deng a lot, and have grown to like Boozer a little.

    • v says:

      Bulls just drafted a stretch 4

  191. Henrik Jensen says:

    Nets – Heat 7 Game Series:

    Inside: Brook Lopez, Kevin Garnett, Reggie Evans and Andray Blatche Vs:
    Chris Bosh, Chris Andersen, Joel Anthony = Nets Win Big Time
    Outside: Pierce, AK47, Johnson vs Wade, Lebron, Ray, Battier = Heat Win
    Point: D-Will, Terry vs: Chalmers, Cole = Nets Win Big Time
    Total: 2-1 Win for Nets + Bench is a lot stronger than Heat so: Nets win in 5 or 6 Games //.

    Pacers – Heat 7 Game Series:
    Inside: Hibbert, D-West Vs Bosh, Birdman = Pacers Win
    Outside: Granger, George, Stephenson vs Lebron, Ray, Wade, Battier = Heat win
    Point: George vs Chalmers = Small Pacers Win
    Total: 2-1 Win for Pacers = Pacers win in 6 or 7 Games //.

    How will Heat face these opponents??, they are almost as strong as they are on Shooting Guard – Small Forward (or at least they can defend them strongly) + Inside they have no chance what so ever.. Point: D-Will or George will win every time over Chalmers.

    So in Total?, I can’t see Heat win this year. especially with other top competitors in Pistons, Knicks and Bulls, that could make Heat tired from long series’ before they meet Pacers or Nets in East Finals…

    • NBA FAN says:

      You can’t compare position like that and say that because their stronger in 2 of the 3, that they beat the Heat…Lebron can guard anyone on that team. He is such a huge factor for the Heat. In the East, I only see the Pacers as a team able to beat them in a 4 of 7 series.

    • Dwayne says:

      you arent the smartest fella are ya?

      • AD says:

        I reckon he ain’t.

      • Van says:

        Oh Henrik; you have so much learn. If you flipped a coin and landed heads 8 out If 10 and then decide to flip it for the eleventh time; you would think that the odds of landing heads would be 80%. I guess since the Patriots in football were undefeated in 2007 and had already beaten the Giants; the Giants then on paper would have no chance in beating the Patiots. Do u see now how dumb
        and ignorant your theories are.

    • iamtrixxie says:

      lol @ this henrik, dream and kill urself, u cannot based the game by comparing the position,. this is not a card game bro.,

    • ac says:

      Lebron wins big time you moron. Nets or Pacers don’t have a chance.

  192. Unkle Daddy says:

    Let’s get a few things straight OKC took a step back last year and wasn’t taking the west even with Westbrook at full strength, and will not make it to the western conference finals this year. They need to make some moves, badly. The Bulls with Rose can’t stop Miami, they may slow them down, but stop no not happening. The Pacers, Spurs and Houston(?) are the only teams pose a threat to the reign. Only if Griffin developes a game can the Clippers make it to the western finals, but lose to whoever they play. God I hope one of these teams beat Miami.

  193. Henrik Jensen says:

    Don’t You forget about Brooklyn Nets, they will win a title either this year or next year for sure..

    • AD says:

      That’s awfully confident of you.

    • iamtrixxie says:

      tsss, last year everyone said, lakers will win and thats for sure, but they end up crawling bottom rock of the western seed, just watch and enjoy the game, because wrong prediction always end up to disappointments

    • J J says:

      Yea man there going all the way it’s okay that they have no bench or that they are old or that joe played worse then ever last year or that they couldn’t beat a really beat up bulls team. Lol yea good luck with that.

  194. I don’t see the Nets taking that step. You can’t sleep on the Spurs or the Bulls. Howard isn’t championship material. He isn’t ready for that kind of pressure or he would have stayed in LA.

  195. ko0kiE says:

    cmon.. quite disrespectful against the reigning western conference champions who pushed miami to 7 games. leonard is a future star… and timi looked quite all-right during the playoffs, tony parker is still in his prime.

  196. skunk says:

    pacers, spurs, thunder. i see the list being as small as that. these other teams can beat them on any given night, but those are the only three i can see doing it 4 times in 7 games.

  197. mario says:

    This article is a joke..spurs are always left out..i get it follow the trends..as long as my beloved heat have the big 3, its game over for the rest of the league..

  198. I give you zero credibility. Anytime someone makes a list like this and fails to list the Spurs, it shows how ignorant they are. Every single year they go completely under the radar. You clearly haven’t caught on to the MOST reoccurring theme in the NBA from the past 5 years.

  199. roe says:

    f that bruh the Warriors are the threat with the THUNDER AND BULLS AND PACERS thats it oh and the Grizzlies

  200. JG says:

    Biggest threat: Their own health

  201. YYY says:

    Seriously? You list the Rockets over the Spurs, Nets?

  202. Simon Sparlinek says:

    in my opinion you can scratch the bulls and the Clippers and add the nets instead.

    • David says:

      The bulls will be back!!

    • J J says:

      So replace the bulls for nets? Smart thinking why don’t you go back an talk a look at last years playoff matchup between the two ? Then start thinking an make a smart comment

  203. Pakyaw says:

    I hope everyone injured free, so that no more “IF” , coulda, shoulda excuses..

  204. WTH? says:

    Where is the Nets and the PIstons? The nets now have Pierce, KG, and AK47, so their team is basicaly designed to stop the heat with their defense. Chris bosh will have to face either KG or Brook Lopez, two amazing defensive players. If AK gaurds lebron or dwade, then that will cause major stops. As for the pistons, idk yet what they can do.

  205. sammmmmmmmy says:

    Spurs won the WC last year!! so u put the Rockets in! lol what a joke! u would of been better off writing about GS or Memphis. Howard is not a leader he is a follower and a whiner. Harden is still maturing, yes the Rockets will be better but ill be very surprised to see the them go anywhere in the playoffs.

    • amitpal says:

      Completely agree. Houston doesn’t belong there, they r not athletic enough to keep up with miami. Harden got shut down in the finals even when he had kevin durant and westbrook on his side. Hows he going to dealwith heat defense without those to. Not to mention jeremy lin. A way to overrated player who couldn’t even breathe last year when westbrook guarded him in the playoffs.

      • Zacksouth says:

        The rockets not athletic enough??? Have you ever watched a rockets game?? Smh, they were the highest scoring team in basketball who played a strict fastbreak style of basketball. And just a little fact Houston lost to miami by 3 and i think 6 the two games they played last year. Also not to mention Houston just signed the most athletic big man in the NBA.

    • AD says:

      I would agree as well, it was strange seeing Rockets on that list. I think Smith threw them in for “shock value.”

    • hi says:

      Good to know I’m not the only one with those thoughts. Houston? Really?
      Memphis or San Antonio should be there instead.

    • magnetik713 says:

      haters gonna hate.. Houston had the youngest team in the league, only 1 player was on this team 2 years ago, and 2nd highest scoring team in the league… and still made the playoffs. Their ceiling is definitely higher than you guys give them credit for.

  206. Alan Collins says:

    This has become boring. Each year some guy writes this article about who can LEGITIMATELY beat the HEAT. Look I dont mean to rain on your parade but, as long as Lebron James is wearing a Heat uniform the rest of the league can shut down shop and just hope to win 50 games and make the playoffs. That’s it. We all knew that once he figured it all out that the league would belong to him. The difference is every close series last year was Lebron. If you have him you will win. If you dont, then you wont. It’s that simple. It’s like during Jordan’s era. People talked about the Pacers, Knicks, Jazz, Heat, Suns and Rockets all being LEGIT threats to defeat the BULLS. Do you remember how that played out? Once Jordan figured it all out it was all over for the rest of the league. Same situation with Lebron. Just let it rest. Heat are the yearly champs until Lebron decides to go play somewhere else. Oh by the way, Go GRIZZLIES!!!!

    • anonymous says:

      Um the 2011 mavericks would beg to differ

      • Van says:

        Lebron hadnt figured it out yet. Had Lebron played this past two years against Dallas in 2011; they would had swept them. The heat should had been up 3-0 but they choke and played like a team who had never had or didn’t know how to play organized basketball. Lebron wasn’t a leader in 2011. Lebron hadn’t even peaked yet. He could average a triple double if he wanted. If Oden doesn’t get hurt and I’d ready by nba playoffs; the league is in trouble. If he is starting by the end of the season and averaging a double double; the heat will glide their way to another ring.

      • Darius little says:

        Ha!!!

    • amitpal says:

      I’m sorry but I think the spurs were obly seconds away from beating the heat and it wasn’t lebron who saved tbem it was chris bosh and ray allen. Lebron almost threw away the game with 2 turnovers in the finals 1 and half. Guess he’s more beatable then u think.

      • #THREEHEAT2014 says:

        How’d it feel when Lebron was giving his Finals MVP speech? 37 points (2013 playoff high) in a Game 7 in the NBA Finals. Can’t get more clutch than that.

      • schizoapostle says:

        Those were def some bad TOs, but everyone seems to forget LeBron made the 3 that put Miami within striking so that Ray could tie it. W/o LeBron’s 3, it doesn’t even matter. There would’ve been no chance to tie it. Bosh and Ray were great in those moments but people who say they didn’t win game 6 because of LeBron just haters

    • tito061883 says:

      You re wrong. Who save the heat to lose the championship was Ray Allen not lebron, and save twice in game 6 in the finals. 1st the 3 pointer in regulation to force overtime and 2nd the 2 clutch free throws to extend to 3 point lead and eventually the block shot by Bosh.

      • #THREEHEAT2014 says:

        Yeah, just forget about LeBron’s 16 points in the fourth quarter and HUGE three to even get Miami into that position. The stupidity of these haters is just baffling.

    • LBJKIN6JAMES says:

      @ Alan Collins
      One of the smartest things I’ve heard on these comment boars in a longgg time
      #GO Heat !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • hi says:

        I think it was pretty obvious that if it hadn’t been for Ray Allen and D Wade then the Heat still wouldn’t have won . . . I mean yes of course James was a huge factor in it but it’s not like he can just play anywhere and win.
        And please save your hashtags for Twitter.

      • LBJKIN6JAMES says:

        That has absolutely nothing to do with what I was agreeing with… Go home your drunk ..

    • kenny says:

      James isn’t Jordan the NBA is just doing all it can to make he the next Jordan

    • NBAfollower says:

      IT never said who has a LEGITAMATE, it just said who has the BEST chance.

    • magnetik713 says:

      check yo stats homie.

      Houston Rockets vs. The Chicago Bulls in the Jordan Era

      1984 Houston 2 – 0 Chicago
      1985 Houston 2 – 0 Chicago
      1986 Houston 1 – 1 Chicago
      1987 Houston 2 – 0 Chicago
      1988 Houston 0 – 2 Chicago
      1989 Houston 1 – 1 Chicago
      1990 Houston 1 – 1 Chicago
      1991 Houston 2 – 0 Chicago
      1992 Houston 1 – 1 Chicago
      1993 Houston 2 – 0 Chicago
      1994 Houston 1 – 1 Chicago
      1995 Houston 1 – 1 Chicago
      1996 Houston 0 – 2 Chicago
      1997 Houston 1 – 1 Chicago
      1998 Houston 0 – 2 Chicago

      Rockets 17 Wins vs Bulls in Jordan era
      Bulls 13 Wins vs Rockets in Jordan era

      Don’t forget the Rockets also swept the team (Orlando) in the finals, that knocked the Bulls (and Jordan) out of the 95 playoffs.

      • Steven says:

        Please check your stats, homie. Jordan didn’t play basketball in 1993 and 1994.

      • Steven says:

        Also, the year the Magic knocked out the Bulls in the payoffs was the year Jordan came back from baseball, and players from Orlando said that he wasn’t playing like the old MJ, homie.

      • magnetik713 says:

        check the dictionary for the definition of an era homie. Also old MJ is a myth. He averaged 31.5ppg in those same playoffs.

      • Unkle Daddy says:

        If Jordan wouldn’t have taken a break from basketball the Rockets would still be without any championships, end of story.

      • kenny says:

        Rockets 0 championships Bulls 6 championships enough said

    • trueHEATfan says:

      Thank goodness I finally run into a realist on this stupid blog. Get used to LBJ winniny cuz its going yo be happening for the next several years.

  207. david avila says:

    Don’t forget about my warriors man steph curry is the real deal

    • trueHEATfan says:

      If he can stay healthy. Bogut also and btw Iggy is good he just lacks confidence on offense but I think coach Jackson will remedy that. Warriors are very good team but are plauged with that injury bug I’m sorry to say. I honestly believe Warriors would have been in finals if David Lee was healthy.

  208. David says:

    Nah! Only indiana is the legit contender

    • hi says:

      I don’t know about that . . . these other teams have lots of spirit and potential too. I think Indiana will at the very least give Miami some real trouble, but honestly, I think that if the Bulls had everyone healthy and playing well, they could also be a very powerful contender for the title.

    • Darius little says:

      The Nets is legit boi!!! And the Pacers has no one to stop D Rose,,!!! But I don’t doubt for a sec!!!

  209. Game Time says:

    Clippers and Houston, really? How about the Warriors? Aside from Miami they were the only other team to give the Spurs trouble. The Warriors are getting snubbed out of these talks just like Curry did from the All-Star game. I’m not even a Warriors fan. It’s just sad to see the teams without all the big names getting put on the backburner.

    • Unkle Daddy says:

      I agree that the warriors are dangerous, but they haven’t proved anything, yet. They don’t have multiple championships or been in the hunt for a long period of time.

      • Gerry says:

        Warriors is a good team and did pretty well last year but they were able to do so only because no team expected them to do so well. Now that that the other teams are aware of them, they’ll have a tougher time pulling another surprise.

      • aaaaaa says:

        Beating the Nuggets and bringing the Spurs to 6 games prove a little bit. You’re not completely wrong, they haven’t won any championships or anything, but I think they deserve a little more credit than you’re giving them, especially with the addition of Iggy.

    • Jojo Lecitona says:

      That’s the personal opinion of sekou, who by the way is a bias writer

    • Darius little says:

      I agree but there still weak in the paint!!! Ai was a nice pickup

    • Zacksouth says:

      Psh the warriors are a poor mans rockets. They got lucky and faced another run n gun team in the playoffs last year in Denver. The legitimate threats in the west are Houston , OKC and San Antonio. The clippers dont have what it takes to make the leap to a championship team.

  210. ac says:

    Also, the “Greg Oden sweepstakes” was the stupidest, most over-hyped spectacle. Its good for Miami to have some size, but the EVEN IF he stays healthy – highly unlikely – he won’t play more than 20 min/night.

    • AD says:

      20 a night that’s pretty significant. Birdman averaged 15 minutes a game and he made tremendous contribution.

    • trueHEATfan says:

      And that is all we would need from Oden and we would ease him up to 20 mpg. Umm last time I checked heat are still stacked and still the team to beat…haters. While you guys are trying to catch up we just keep getting better.

      • Bulls says:

        As far as the Heat being the team to beat I agree, however I don’t think they are so far ahead. The Nets (although they may be old), will have a solid chance to push some teams around in the playoffs. Never doubt KG. Even with Paul Peirce being old and slow, KG is a different monster. He still dominates the paint on the deffensive end, and with him and Brook Lopez in the offensive end they are going to be a tough match up for any Front Court. They can both hit the mid range jumper, and both have pretty solid low post games. The Nets success will hinge on Deron Williams though. If he can play the way he did in Utah, the Nets will have a good chance to make some noise in the playoffs. Obviously I think the Bulls will have a chance to knock off the Heat in the playoffs, however I still don’t see it unfortunatly because the lack of support on the Bench. Houston will have a solid year and pretty good playoffs, however until they get a real Point Guard to play with Howard and Harden, I just don’t think they have enough to beat some of the other “Super Teams”.

      • manie says:

        Odem would be enough for hibbert. I say this hibbert number were much lower against Chandler (NY)

  211. ac says:

    If Houston can get it their chemistry right, I think they are the biggest challenge to Miami, not Indiana. Howard can do the same thing to Miami that Hibbert can, but he’ll do it in an uptempo high motion offense that could really wear Bosh and Lebron out on the defensive end. I’m really looking forward to seeing Houston play this year and I’m a Knicks fan, so take that for what it is.

    • I agree with you 100%…but the Heat arent even gonna reach the finals…the Nets are there to stop them

      • ac says:

        Nets aren’t getting out of the first round bro. I’m from Brooklyn, and trust me they will be this year’s Lakers.

      • LBJKIN6JAMES says:

        @ Don’t ever CLICK MY NAME!!!! You Have been warned:

        “The nets are there to stop them”?!?!?! LOOOOL.. Everything you say makes me laugh, you have no idea what your talking about! How are those Lakers doing buddy? LOOOL

      • mas says:

        the nets have no chance at beating the heat

      • UR FUNNY says:

        Man you’re REALLY funny..imagine the heat are not gonna make it to the Finals….the Nets? REALLY?? too old man way to old

      • Ildefonso navarro says:

        Stupid comment heat will reach the nba final again

      • trueHEATfan says:

        Lol sure they are…. Brooklyn couldn’t even beat a beat up Bulls team and now that they have a beat up Pierce KG and Terry you truly beleive they can do it? Dont be foolish its going to take much more to dethrown the King. On a more serious note The Rockets or Clippers will have the highest probability. I’m no longer worried about the Thunder and Pacers… Bulls would have definately had a chance with Healthy D Rose but imo getting rid of x factor Nate Robinson was a huge mistake. It will be back to Rose caring load every night.

      • iamtrixxie says:

        here comes this Dont ever click my name heat hater comment? i remember the last time that u said, “lakers will win the 2013 nba championship 100%” u always coming up with wrong conclusion, just watch the game and comment after the game, because u always dreaming.

      • J J says:

        Lol I swear everything you say is so stupid haha. Jus stop with your comments. Yea a team with an inexperienced coach an aging roster with joe Johnson coming of his worse year in the NBA an no bench is gonna challenge the heat?? Lol tell me how that goes for you.

      • Eddie Smith says:

        The Nets beating the heat lets be real! What are you smoking? The Nets are getting a washed up Pierce and Garnett to go along with a play when he wants to point guard in Deron Williams. Maybe Kidd brings the best out of him which remains to be seen. But not a chance Brooklyn beats the Heat in 7 games. Indiana by far has the best chance to dethrone the champs.

      • Eddie D says:

        What a joke of a comment. The Nets will be lucky to exit the first round. Again.

    • Jojo Lecitona says:

      What wear lebron by harden? You don’t know baskerball

      • ac says:

        I said Howard would wear Lebron and Bosh down the way that Hibbert did. Learn to read and while you’re at it, learn to spell too.

      • Joel says:

        Are you serious guys???? The nets do have a chance. Because bosh cannot stop Lopez. And he is Garnett’s wife ( not to say another word) and lebron is pierce’s mistress ( again not to use another word). U guys think the heat are all that. Your only reinforcements is a dude that gets injured more than Bynum. What’s next? You guys going to a retirement home to get another center I heard Hakeem wanted to play again or maybe Kareem. You guys are not the bulls from Jordan’s era. Sorry for the reality check.

    • Akeem says:

      LBJKIN…The Lakers have NOTHING to do with the NETS. The Pacers made good moves, but they were swept by last year’s Nets, and which team made the most improvement? The Pacers may have to get past the Nets in the playoffs, a team that matches up with them very well ( they could go 2 and 3). I have the Nets all day on that one. Pacers finished only 1/2 game ahead of the Nets last year.

    • manie says:

      I don’t even think we can give the west crown to Houston. Dwight is good but we have seen Tim Duncan, Tiago splitter, Kendrick perkins put howard in check. I think !the east has enough size to challenge the heat.
      1. Indiana (Have tasted Miami blood and their young core will only get stronger and better)
      2. Nets (Brook Lopez, Kg and Evan will give Miami interior problems and if you add Pierce big plays in the playoffs
      3. Cleveland ( They will be healthy and more experienced, Verajao and Andrew Bynum are also interior monsters)
      4. Bulls ( Might end regular season as the number 1 seed but this bulls are not better than 2010-2011 bulls)

    • UFO says:

      you still remembered how James Harden choked against the Heat in the Finals with KD and westbrook leading the team, right? Just saying…

    • Sean James says:

      Well if Howard n Harden gel well n da Dream34 train da big man w da other bigs on sure ,fire , post moves its a wrap!!! New Champs n repeating Champs in Houston, yes Houston has a problem dat league wont be stopping soon