NBA Caucus: NBA season preview
This is the inaugural NBA Caucus post, each Caucus post will consist of writers in the USA TODAY Sports media group that will partake in a roundtable discussion about the NBA’s biggest topics.
1. Championship prediction: Heat or the field?
Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports: The field is almost always the better bet. Almost. If there’s a team that can get back to the Finals for the fourth consecutive time for the first time since the 1982-85 Los Angeles Lakers, it’s the Miami Heat, and if the Heat get back to the Finals, they are going to be very difficult to beat. It’s not going to be easy. Never is. The Indiana Pacers, Chicago Bulls and Brooklyn Nets all improved, and don’t discount the New York Knicks. And then, if the Heat get through all those potential playoff opponents, they get the Western Conference’s best team in the Finals.
But in quiet, unheralded ways, the Heat made significant additions that bolster depth, and it factors significantly when they have the best trio in the NBA – four-time MVP LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Miami has proven it knows how to win in the playoffs, especially when facing adversity. Trailing the San Antonio 3-2 in the NBA Finals and down five points with 28.5 seconds to play in Game 6 last season, the Heat didn’t fold. Don’t expect the Heat to fold this season either. Just the opposite.
Eddie Johnson, HoopsHype: Pacers, Bulls, Nets, Knicks, Thunder, Rockets, Warriors, Spurs and Clippers are all capable of becoming champions. But the Heat are not in turmoil, they are not old and they have rolled the dice on two talented players like Greg Oden and Michael Beasley that could make them even more difficult to beat come playoff time. The Heat will win a threepeat and it could turn out to be a romp through the playoffs.
Adi Joseph, USA TODAY Sports: The Heat are a historically great team, but I’m always in favor of the field in these sorts of arguments. We watched the Oklahoma City Thunder’s season fold after Russell Westbrook’s knee … [For more on NBA Caucus: NBA season preview, click here.]