Basketball Magazine

The Miami Heat: “Who Gon Stop Me Huh?”

By Rosstalkssports @rosstalkssports

   As much as I love the NBA with the story lines and the characters and all, it typically has the most predictable  playoffs. That’s not inherently a bad thing as the best team usually wins. 1  

             The finality of many of the matchups, especially the 1 seed vs. the 8 seed and the 2 seed vs. the 7 seed makes for limited fan enthusiasm surrounding the early round games. At best we get to see a team ill equipped to win the title make the second round and at worst we lose the most athletic player in the league (See Rose, Derrick 2012).2 

               This year it’s even worse than usual. I’m no gambling expert, but you’d have to give me at least 5-1 odds to even consider thinking about maybe betting on OKC (the consensus finals opponent) to win it all. The predictability angle is done to death, so let’s look at the five teams with the best chance of preventing the Heat from raising a second banner in as many seasons.

             One last important thing to mention. One of the primary criteria for making this list is getting to the point where you can actually play the Heat. The Nuggets and Grizzlies make this list if they didn’t have to go through the West to get there. 

5) Chicago Bulls

   Derrick Rose is not coming through that tunnel. Well actually he is, but he’s going to be wearing street clothes and cheering on his teammates from the sideline. The Bulls might not have the talent to match up with Miami, but there isn’t a player on that team (save for maybe Derrick) that doesn’t believe that they are better than Miami. Ask the 2011 Mavericks, that’s half the battle.

   If I had written this over the weekend, following the Bulls being absolutely blasted by the Nets, the Nets would have this space here relegating Chicago to honorable mention. 3 Without Rose the Bulls come in at number 5 because I’m still not convinced they will even get past the Nets. With the addition of Derrick Rose, all other things being remaining unchanged (which really just means the number 2 ranked team not being healthy), the Bulls would easily be number 1 on this list.

4) Indiana Pacers 4

   In game 1 Paul George looked like a man that was ready to take his game to the next, next level. In case you missed it in the East recap article this is the one game that I overslept for, so I only saw the highlights. However, from those along with the box score, it sure seems as if Paul George is ready to be a complete player in this league.

   “Game 1 Box Score” Paul George combined with that physical Pacers defense and the post presence of Hibbert and West gives hope that Indiana could give Miami something of a battle. Two things prevent them from being higher on this list. The fact that they have to see the New York Knicks in the second round(sorry Celtics fans), and the Deron Williams Corrolary. The latter of which proves that it’s possible to look like the best player at your position in game one, and then get absolutely locked down by a 32 year old Kirk Hinrich in game two 5

3) Oklahoma City Thunder

   That’s right! *Max Kellerman Voice* The consensus second best team in the league only comes in at number 3 on this list. I’ve been led to believe that Kevin Durant is especially pleased with this as he is “done with [being second]”.

   The Thunder is interesting in the respect that they don’t pose the same matchup problems the other teams on this list do. In fact the only reason they rank this highly on the list is because they pose the same problem to the rest of the league that the Heat does and are for that reason more likely to actually play against the Heat than any other team on this list. The positions where the Thunder has their greatest strengths are matched by Miami, and on the aggregate surpassed.

             Unless Kevin Durant can hoist the team upon his very efficient shooting shoulders, this year’s finals will be even shorter than last years. I love Kevin Durant, either he or Rajon Rondo are my favorite player in the league, but I don’t think he has enough 2011 Dirk in him to carry the Thunder to the championship without Westbrook. 6 Knowing what we know now, Kevin Durant would be very fortunate to be able to settle for second once again. Another round of applause for Patrick Beverely ladies and gentlemen.

2) San Antonio Spurs

   The San Antonio Spurs are the antithesis of the Oklahoma City Thunder.  Their ball movement, presence down low with a resurgent Tim Duncan, and MVP caliber point guard would have made the Spurs my favorite to knock off Miami this year. Unfortuantely since Tony Parker’s shin injury the Spurs haven’t been playing anywhere near that level. My theory is that the basketball gods are taking these two potential championships from the Spurs as retribution for the two titles the Spurs stole courtesy of to the lockout in ’99 and the Steve Nash incident in 2007 (I apologize for the quality). Especially since, prior to the injury to Parker, I think the Spurs were once again the best team in the league7  

             Even as the considerably less impressie team that the Spurs have been the last handful of weeks, I still give Coach Pop and the old ladies system a great chance of beating the clean shaven 2013 Thunder and making it to the finals to face the Heat. Friday Update: Welcome to the bandwagon guys.

 

1)  New York Knickerbockers

             There is a possibility that in 5 or 10 years everyone will look back at Mike Woodson’s Knicks and say they were a team  that was underestimated because their heavy reliance on the three pointer made them a team ahead of their time.8 Add that to the new defensive prowess they’ve demonstrated to this point in the playoffs (holding the Celtics to the 2 lowest scoring halves in franchise post season history and that’s a looooooooong history) and we’ve got ourselves a series folks.  

   The Knicks sport toughness inside with the surprisingly spry Kenyon Martin. They have shooters in J.R. Smith, Carmelo Anthony, and even Steve Novak that will shoot the three and believe it’s going in every time. And more importantly than all of that, their roster includes crunch time players in Jason Kidd and Tyson Chandler that don’t just think they can beat the Heat when it matters, but have the championship rings to prove it.

   To be completely fair, the Heat team that the Knicks would see in the Eastern Conference Finals wouldn’t be the team that the Mavericks straight punked in the 2011 finals, nor is it the 2012 World Championship Heat team that dominated their final foe.

             This 2013 Heat team is the deepest most talented team in the Heat’s “Big Three” era. On top of having even more talented supporting pieces than they’ve ever had, this team also sports 3 stars that are playing more efficiently than ever before in their careers. That includes having the unquestioned best player in the game playing at a markedly higher level than we’ve ever seen from him previously. Defeating this team would be a task for the combined efforts of any two teams on this list let alone just one of them. So I say to all of the Heat’s opponents


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