Since forming their Big Three in the summer of 2010, the Heat have won the Eastern Conference three consecutive times, knocking off the Bulls, Celtics, and Pacers respectively. As long as LeBron James continues to be the undisputed best player on the planet, Miami probably remains the favorite to win the East, but the team could be a little more vulnerable in 2013/14.
Mike Miller, who has made several big shots in the postseason during the last three years, is no longer on the roster, and so far this summer, the team hasn't used its taxpayer mid-level exception to bring in a veteran contributor like Shane Battier or Ray Allen. Throw in the fact that Dwyane Wade is, at best, entering the tail end of his prime, and there may be an opening for an upset in the East next season.
Four other Eastern Conference teams make up a clear-cut top five, along with the Heat. Last year's Eastern Conference Finalists, the Pacers, have tweaked their bench, and are expecting to have a healthy Danny Granger back in their lineup. The Bulls, who lost to the Heat in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, will get former MVP Derrick Rose back. The Knicks are retaining most of the players that helped lead the team to a second-place finish in the Eastern Conference, and the Nets made perhaps the biggest splash of the summer, adding Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry, and Andrei Kirilenko, among others.
So which of these clubs do you think has the best chance to upset the Heat and earn a spot in the NBA Finals this season? The Nets, Bulls, Pacers, Knicks, or a darkhorse squad? Feel free to use the comments section to weigh in with your thoughts.