Supposedly, the Heat are unstoppable this year. Currently on an 18 game winning streak, the longest one active in the NBA, the Heat have really gotten it together. LeBron James, likely candidate for MVP is playing the best he’s ever played, and having arguably one of the best seasons of his career. His team is hyped to win the championship over and over again, but maybe that’s not so.
The Eastern Conference may be thought of as generally easy, but in actuality, there are a few very good teams in the Eastern Conference. Here are the ones that can easily take down the Heat if given the proper situation, and playing with the right amount of heart.
The Pacers are quietly having one of their best seasons ever since Reggie Miller. This is because the young brilliance of Paul George, a 3rd year player, has really shone. George was an all-star this year, and is having a career season. Currently ranked on the MVP Ladder, George has lead these Pacers to quite a magnificent season.
Last year, the Pacers were up 2-1 on the Heat, when things took a turn for the worst. LeBron James realized who he was, and he and Wade just took over the series, winning 3 straight games. The early exit from the playoffs upset the Pacers and they’ve responded well. The Heat’s last loss was to the Pacers, who can be considered an NBA Superpower. If the Heat play them in the playoffs, it could be a rough end for LeBron James.
No way! Yes, the Celtics are only in the 7th position, but if they just happened to beat the Pacers in the first round, they’ll be seeing Miami sometime in the playoffs. Think about it: there’s no way that experienced guys like Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are going to let their team slip in the first round. Jeff Green has been playing some incredible basketball, and the Celtics are on a role.
Even though they’re not a better team without Rajon Rondo, it hasn’t been too hard to compensate, with young guys like Avery Bradley who are defensive specialists. In the 2010 NBA Playoffs, there was a lot of doubt about the Celtics who finished in the 5th spot. Putting that doubt to rest was Paul Pierce, who fearlessly lead his team to a game 7 in the NBA Finals. When the Celtics are in the post-season, it doesn’t matter what position they are.
New York Knicks:
Having one of his best seasons as a Knick, Carmelo Anthony would like to get some more playoff wins. The Knicks are likely to play the Hawks in the first round. This is a series where the Knicks might finally get more than 3 playoff wins! Unfortunately for the Heat, they have lost 2 times out of 3 to the Knicks, and two of those times, the Knicks were without their star Carmelo Anthony.
If the Knicks meet the Heat in the playoffs, it’s going to be a crazy series, with LeBron and Carmelo going head-to-head, just like the high school days. This time, however, the Knicks may have the upper-hand. Before you jump on me for saying the Heat could get taken down, remember that LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are human.
Oklahoma City Thunder:
Ah the old rivalry. Well it’s not old, actually: last year in the finals after winning game 1, the Thunder had loads of confidence. The Heat, however, took that away after winning 4 straight to capture that elusive title. How can you forget the pain of making it all the way there and not winning. That’s how Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook felt after being eliminated by the Heat.
LeBron James used that pain as a motivation, but so did Kevin Durant. If the Thunder can beat the Heat this year, you’ll know that it’s because the Thunder’s persistence and hard work payed off.