NBA: Who is the biggest threat to the Miami Heat
Like it or not, the safest bet to make on which team in the Eastern Conference will not only win the Conference Championship but also the NBA Championships is the Miami Heat. They currently sit very comfortably at the top of the odds to two-pete with 3/2 odds according to Bovada. Thus, the team to beat in the Eastern Conference is the Miami Heat. Which team in the conference poses the biggest threat to the Heats reign as king of the Eastern Conference?
There are four contenders that seem to have a legit chance: New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers. The two teams in New York are the weaker of the four teams. With the Knicks, despite their solid 14/1 odds to win the Championship, Jason Kidd as been virtually nonexistent on both defense and offense, and since his return, Iman Shumpert has been underwhelming. With the Nets, the team is struggling to stay healthy. When all three of their star players Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson they are a true force in the Eastern Conference. However, Johnson has not been producing the numbers required to win games, let alone make up for an unhealthy Williams.
That leaves the Chicago Bulls and the Indiana Pacers. Both Central Division teams jockeying to be the team that will give the Heat a run for their money.
The Bulls are a solid team right now. They lack one thing, though, well one man: Derrick Rose. The Bulls chances at truly taking a run at the Heat this season hinge on the return of star player Rose. The way the Bulls have been playing without him has been great. Add the explosive offense of Rose to back into the mix and the Bulls could easily topple the Heat and be the best team in the Eastern Conference.
The prospect of a Rose return this season has been on and off again. After shooting the ball around before a game right before the All-Star Break, Rose commented on a return this season and sounded skeptical. He said their was a chance that he would not return this season. However, reports have recently surfaced that he was running 5-on-5 practice drills with the Bulls. If Rose does not return that means the Pacers will have the best shot at making a run at the Heat.
The Pacers are not the fan-favorite choice as most would make the call that the Knicks or Bulls are contenders that should be held above the Pacers. Even their odds to win an NBA Championship are not the most impressive at 22/1. However, the Pacers potential, I believe, can be held above both those teams.
For one Paul George is the most underrated player in the NBA. I would go as far as to say he is one of the best all around players in the NBA. He is an explosive offensive player. George has racked up a career high 37 point ball game. He averages about 18 points a game and is a heck of a three point shooter averaging near 40 percent from behind the arc. He is also a great
defensive player, grabbing 1.8 steals per game. He is also a solid rebounder (No. 2 on the Pacers squad) and knows how to share the ball (No. 2 on the Pacers in assists).
If the Pacers can properly integrate Danny Granger back into their lineup, who was their leading scorer pre-injury, the Pacers will be the team that stands the best chance at taking down the Heat.