2013 NBA Playoffs: Can Anyone In The East Beat The Miami Heat?


LeBron James and the Miami Heat are the favorites going into the 2013 NBA Playoffs. Photo Credit: Mark Runyon, Basketball Schedule

With the Miami Heat winning every game in sight, they’ve had the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference wrapped up in every fashion except mathematically for quite some time now.  Their lead over everyone else continues to increase and it’s natural to wonder if any of the likely Eastern playoff teams have even a remote chance of taking down the Heat. With that mind, let’s look at each team and see who has the best chance to pull off an upset over the heavy favorites in the East.

7. Milwaukee Bucks

There’s a solid chance the Bucks will play the Heat in round 1 (although with the Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics slipping, it’s far from certain) and if that were the case, they probably wouldn’t last too long. Larry Sanders is a great defender and they have a solid bunch of scorers in Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, and J.J. Redick, but they lack the firepower to have a serious chance to hang with a team as talented as the Heat. They’re tough enough to potentially take one game at home, but this series would likely be over very quickly.

6. Atlanta Hawks

I think we’ve all figured out the Hawks at this point. Every year, they have a team strong enough to make the playoffs, but without enough talent to do anything once they get there. Al Horford and Josh Smith give them a fairly intimidating frontcourt, while Jeff Teague is the best point guard no one ever talks about, so it’s not like they wouldn’t look competent in a series with Miami. Still, much like the Bucks, there just isn’t enough to this team. LeBron James and company would dispatch them without needing much effort.

5. Chicago Bulls

Two years ago, a Bulls team that had Derrick Rose lost in five games to a Heat team that was still figuring out how to play together. So, how is a Bulls team without Rose going to do against a Heat team that has better team chemistry than anyone else in the league? I think that question answers itself. If Rose comes back, the Bulls should be moved up a few spots, but I would still pick the Heat in the end.

4. Brooklyn Nets

The Nets continue to win games and have quietly moved themselves into contention for the second spot. Still, this team just doesn’t seem particularly dangerous. Deron Williams has picked his game up after a rough start, but he’s still not at the level he was during his peak years with the Utah Jazz. Meanwhile, Joe Johnson continues to decline and even during his peak years, he never took the Hawks beyond the second round. If Brook Lopez is able to have his way with Chris Bosh, this could be an interesting series, but I still couldn’t see the Heat needing more than six games to take care of Brooklyn.

3. Boston Celtics

This ranking has a bit to do with history. The Celtics have their problems and the Heat are obviously the superior team, but the Celtics also tend to play the Heat very tough and you get the feeling they wouldn’t go down without a fight. The loss of Rajon Rondo would likely hurt them here, but the presence of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and defensive beast Avery Bradley makes Boston pretty intimidating, in spite of their rather mediocre record. The Heat would likely prevail here, but the Celtics would make it more interesting than any team we’ve discussed so far.

2. New York Knicks

Yes, the Knicks have been ravaged by injuries lately, but when everyone is healthy, they are one of the best teams in the NBA. They’ve also played the Heat extremely well this year, beating them in the first two matchups. Carmelo Anthony lacks the multi-dimensional talents of LeBron, but his scoring ability is through the roof and he could likely match LeBron basket for basket. Meanwhile, a healthy Tyson Chandler could make life a living hell for LeBron and Bosh in the post. If Amare Stoudemire is back, too, the Knicks would add a first-rate scorer off the bench. This would make an excellent matchup for the Eastern Conference Finals.

1. Indiana Pacers

Last year, the Pacers were up 2-1 in their second-round series with the Heat and it looked like a huge upset was coming. Then the Heat found their second gear and took the next three games. The Pacers have waited for revenge ever since. This is an amazing defensive team, one of very few that can knock the Heat out of their comfort zone. This is also a stronger Pacers team than the one we saw last year. Paul George has blossomed into a legitimate NBA star, while David West is back to putting up the numbers he put up during his years with the New Orleans Hornets. The Pacers are a strong, cohesive team and they aren’t afraid of anyone. If any Eastern Conference team has the ability to take down the lumbering dinosaur that is the Miami Heat, it’s the Indiana Pacers.