Can Anyone Beat the Heat?

by Zach Gilliland

Everyone is America by now is aware that the Miami Heat are at the beginning of an epic dynasty run. Next year the men of South Beach will attempt to 3-peat as champions, and from now until the next NBA Finals sports reporters will attempt to proclaim the few teams that will have a realistic shot at dethroning the champs. Here I have put together a small list of teams that I feel will contend for the title along with the Heat.

Chicago Bulls: I really like the Bulls chances next year of making a playoff run. Getting Derrick Rose back at the beginning of the season will provide momentum and excitement in Chicago. The Bulls are a well-coached bunch that relies on defense and rebounding, but also have some offensive playmakers to compliment the defense.

Indiana Pacers: The runner-up in the East last year will figure to contend again next season. The Pacers have already re-signed David West, who was an important piece last year. The Pacers revealed a flaw of the Miami Heat and that is size. Roy Hibbert was able to have his way down low, along with David West in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Pacers will need more consistent play from Paul George if they look to be back in that situation, but the return of Danny Granger should provide another spark on offense.

Brooklyn Nets: The Nets are really a mystery team to me. I could see them coming together as a group and making a run to the NBA Finals, but at the same time I could see them failing to make it to the playoffs next season. Their starting five will look as good as anybody’s in the East with Williams, Johnson, Pierce, Garnett, and Lopez, but it will be interesting to see how these guys play together. As sports fans have seen over the past few seasons, having an All-Star roster doesn’t always guarantee championships if those players don’t play as a team. Also, Jason Kidd is a factor in this scenario. The guy is a first-year coach, so experience is a concern.

Oklahoma City Thunder: The Thunder is a team that I really like for next year. The injury of Westbrook held them back in the playoffs this year, but if their star players can stay healthy I look for the Thunder to take the West next year, and give the Heat a tough battle if they were to meet in the Finals again.

Los Angeles Clippers: The Clippers needed to upgrade at head coach if they wanted to go deep in the playoffs and they did more than that. Doc Rivers is the third best coach in the league in my opinion will be successful with Chris Paul as his point guard. The Clippers management has shown this offseason by trading for Doc and signing Paul that they are willing to do what it takes to contend, and the players will rally behind this. The Clips will be a scary team in 2013-2014.

Memphis Grizzlies: The Grizzlies are a really physical team that could have made it to the Finals this year, but didn’t have quite the experience of the Spurs. They are a stout defensive group with Marc Gasol leading the way. Mike Conley has evolved into a playmaker, along with Zach Randolph.

There are a few teams not mentioned that will make some noise, but will ultimately fall short of the above elite teams: New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Lakers.

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