Last season, the Miami Heat had to survive game 7′s in consecutive series, defeating the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals and San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals (after needing a Ray Allen three-pointer to survive game 6).
This season, age and injuries appeared to be catching up with some of their players, most notably future Hall-of-Fame guard Dwyane Wade and the Heat finished with a record of 54-28, tied for fifth-best in the league just a year after going a league-best 66-16.
The Indiana Pacers earned home court advantage in the Eastern Conference with a 56-26 record.
If you put all of that together, it looks like a pretty good recipe to stop the Heat from winning a third straight title.
Going into the season, the Pacers looked like the only team with a realistic chance to defeat the Heat in the Eastern Conference with the Brooklyn Nets getting some talk after their big offseason trade that brought Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn.
The other perceived contenders in the West – the Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers have all struggled to 2-2 series ties. The Heat, on other hand, quickly disposed of their first round opponent, the Charlotte Bobcats, and were the only team to pull off a first round sweep.
We’ll take a look at the five teams who many believed could take down the Heat and where they currently stand.