Beating the Heat, Part I
Before the 2013 NBA playoffs began, the Miami Heat entered as the prohibitive favorite to defend their crown and take home the title.
The only legitimate threat was Oklahoma City, whose scoring ability from the perimeter at least equals that of the Heat. However, we saw how that played out last year, and while OKC may have up a better fight so far this season, the Heat likely will prevail again.
In fact, since their Game 1 victory in the Finals last year, OKC has gone 0-6 against the Miami Heat, including 14 February's demolition at OKC which only became close very late in the game. Both regular-season match-ups this year were demoralizing for Thunder fans, as the game on Christmas Day looked a little too much like last year's NBA finals.
However its not likely that we'll get a rematch of OKC-Miami until next year, due to Russel Westbrook's knee injury.
So the prohibitive favorite becomes even more favored to win the title. My personal opinion is that the Heat should just be handed the title now, and we can move onto the NBA draft. But since the games must be played, let's take a look at the Top Seven teams that could knock off the Heat this year, and the chances for each team to pull it off.
One quick notet before we get into the rankings: the percentage chance I give to beat the Heat is a highly scientific formula I used where whatever percentage I deemed worthy to be accurate was chosen.
And why Top Seven? Because I'm writing this article, and I chose seven.
7. Chicago Bulls
6. Brooklyn Nets
After Nate Robinson's NBA Jam-like performance on Saturday, The Bulls now lead their series 3-1 over the Nets. The Nets have looked tired over these last three games, probably due to the exhaustion resulting from dragging Derron Williams's corpse up and down the court so many times.
Now the Bulls obviously have the better chance to beat the Nets, but I believe the Nets have the better chance to beat the Heat. A Bulls team at full strength (including both Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose) is a serious threat to the Heat's Eastern Conference supremacy, but when injured, they simply lack the offense to keep up with the high-flying heat. And if you think Nate Robinson is going to be able catch fire and keep them in it, then you haven't met the perimeter defense of LeBron-Wade-Chalmers. The Bulls will probably win this series, and then will be lucky to scrap out a win against the Heat. I give the Bulls a 2.5% chance to beat the Heat.
The Nets, on the other hand, are healthy, and if Derron Williams wakes up from the coma he's been in, Brooklyn would have a tiny chance at knocking off the Heat. Miami is vulnerable to teams that don't turn the ball over, can keep them in the half court, and have a low-post scoring threat. Brook Lopez is a legitimate scoring threat down low, and when Derron and Joe Johnson have it going from the outside, they can be a dangerous inside-outside combination. However, they are most likely going to lose to the Bulls and not even get a chance. If the Nets do somehow make it past the Bulls, I give them a 5% chance to beat the Heat.
5. Indiana Pacers
The Pacers are an interesting team, and last year, they had Miami on the ropes with a 2-1 series lead, playing their next game at home. However, Indiana started talking too much, blew the lead, and lost the series. The Pacers are so interesting to me because they simply can't stand Miami. They play with a chip on their shoulder, and this is especially true when they play the Heat. They have legitimate post scoring, with David West and Roy Hibbert, and also a rim protector in Hibbert. Budding star Paul George is fun to watch and point guard George Hill has been very good, but ultimately they don't have what it takes to beat the Heat.
I give the Pacers an 8% chance to knock off Miami. Unless, of course, LeBron catches Ben Hansbrough with a hard elbow on purpose, causing Psycho T to morph into a brotherly-love type of rage in which he tackles LeBron to the ground and breaks both of his arms. All bets are off if that happens, but the edge would still probably be with LeBron's broken arms and the rest of the Heat.
Find out who will be ranked 1-4 in Part II of this breathtaking article, which will be posted anon ...