By Sekou Smith, NBA.com
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The Miami Heat, a team everyone assumed was immune to the doldrums that smother teams made up of mere mortals, suddenly look every bit as vulnerable as the rest of the field.
The Indiana Pacers are scarred, too. The Oklahoma City Thunder? Yep. The Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers, too.
What once looked like a clear-cut championship field to the naked eye has a very different feel to it these days.
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Heat will get a chance to solve their own drama with Wednesday night’s head-to-head battle (8 p.m. ET, ESPN) with the Pacers and their own struggling cast of stars, led by All-Stars Paul George and Roy Hibbert.
We’re analyzing the contenders and pretenders on Episode 153 of the Hang Time Podcast with help from NBA.com’s very own Fran Blinebury and Iowa Energy coach Nate Bjorkgren, who was crazy enough to let a member of the crew join his staff for a brief stint last weekend. We couldn’t help but touch on some of the hot topics of the day — Kobe Bryant, Phil Jackson and more — and we score yet another Dwight Howard debate (some folks never tire of the Dwight debate).
There is no shortage of drama as the regular season winds down and we cover it all here. And don’t forget about this week’s edition of Braggin’ Rights.
As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Sekou Smith of NBA.com, Lang Whitaker of NBA.com’s All-Ball Blog and renaissance man Rick Fox of NBA TV, as well as our new super producer Gregg (just like Popovich) Waigand and the best engineer in the business, Jarell “I Heart Peyton Manning” Wall.