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Thunder, Lakers best equipped vs. Heat
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On October 24, 2012 @ 8:00 pm In All,Wirenews | Comments Disabled
by Adi Joseph, USA TODAY Sports
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh make it look easy. The Miami Heat were christened July 8, 2010, when James announced the formation of Heat President Pat Riley’s super team. It took a year, but the Heat delivered.
Miami has faced seven teams in the playoffs the last two seasons, beating all but one and the Boston Celtics twice. The Heat have evolved since they dropped the 2010 NBA Finals to the Dallas Mavericks, adding key support while their three stars grow comfortable together.
The Heat are not invincible. They have lost at least one game in each of their eight playoff series the last two seasons. The Celtics took them to seven games in the Eastern Conference finals last season. The star-less Indiana Pacers gave them a scare with Bosh sidelined by injury.
Winning a championship in June wasn’t easy for the Heat. They faced injury and unpredictability from stars and role players alike. But Riley bolstered the roster again this offseason, adding former All-Stars Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis while bringing back most of the contributors from the title run. The Heat have the shooters in place to stretch the floor and open the lane for their stars while building on the elite defensive identity coach Erik Spoelstra developed last season.
So who can top the champions? USA TODAY Sports evaluates how the contenders match up:
Oklahoma City Thunder
Only two teams in the last 23 seasons have won a title the season after losing in the Finals: the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009 and the Heat last season. But the Thunder might be primed to join the fray.
Oklahoma City did not fall apart in its loss to Miami. Nor did the Thunder appear physically overmatched. They lost for all of the reasons a good, young team loses: immature mistakes, lacking aggressiveness, bad calls and sporadic shooting.
The Thunder made a move toward even more youth this offseason, cutting loose veterans Derek Fisher, Nazr Mohammed and Royal Ivey. Those decisions show general manager Sam Presti’s confidence in a group that went to the Western Conference finals in 2011 and the NBA Finals last season. … [For more on Thunder, Lakers best equipped to withstand Heat, click here.]
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