It has become increasingly apparent that the Miami Heat will once again win the Eastern Conference on their way to a second straight NBA Finals appearance. A 14 game win streak, LeBron, and Wade surely don’t hurt the cause, but the Heat’s return to the pinnacle has less to do with the King and Queen, and more to do with the Eastern Conference being – as a whole – downright abysmal this year. Save for the Indiana Pacers, there are no serious threats for the Heat to have to contend with until they reach the Finals. Here’s why:
New York: With the return of Amare the Knicks seem to be going backwards. He and Chandler get in each other’s way clogging up the middle and making difficult for either to function with any efficiency. Taking Amare out late in the game for defensive purposes spells doom; and Melo taking 30 shots to get 40 points is a recipe for disaster.
Chicago: The Bulls would join the Pacers as a serious contender if they didn’t treat scoring like a trip to the dentist. One of the best defensive teams’ in the league, not scoring causes the defnse to breakdown after awhile. Making a play for Rudy Gay or Josh Smith would have given Chicago some real bite; Rose needed that kind of help.
Nets: Brook Lopez is tall, but slow. Joe Johnson’s would be exposed for his iso style of play and Deron Williams would twist, or tweak something before the series even got fully underway. Bench play is terrible.
Hawks: Al Horford needs to be playing for a real contender and Teague is nice; outside of that Atlanta is soft.
Celtics: Former champs took Heat to seventh game last season without defensive mosquito Avery Bradley, but now are without floor general “Tom Rondo”, or “Rajon Brady” if you’d like. Jeff Green has been playing well as of late, but father time may be knocking on the Celtics’ door. I won’t count out a Doc Rivers coached team though.
Bucks: Milwaukee’s guards are too small for Heat to take them serious. Heat are at times vulnerable on the interior; I couldn’t even tell who the Bucks’ frontline players are.
Pacers: Indiana was more concerned about winning the fight instead of playing as a team when these two met last year. Hibbert playing big on the inside and George finally showing signs of confidence could serve them well should the two meet again.
Alas, all will fall if Stern makes the final call… for LeBron is the “Chose One!”