Earlier this offseason, Kyle Baillargeon, one of our NBA contributors, made his preseason prediction for which team will win the NBA Finals next June.
It should come as little surprise that Kyle predicted that LeBron James and the Miami Heat will win their third NBA title in as many seasons.
After all, the Heat are prohibitive favorites to win the title. Sportsbook.ag has the odds set for the Heat at 12/5. The next closest are the Thunder and Clippers, who have 7/1 and 8/1 odds, respectively.
Among Eastern Conference teams, the Bulls are next at 9/1 followed by the Nets (12/1) and Pacers (14/1). The Spurs and Rockets also have 12/1 odds.
There are only three other franchises that have won three consecutive championships: Celtics, Lakers and Bulls. So pulling off a "three-peat" would put LeBron and the franchise in rarified company.
Regardless of conference, which team poses the greatest threat to a Miami Heat "three-peat" this season?
John (follow on Twitter): Chicago Bulls
I'll buy into the hype and say that the Chicago Bulls pose the greatest threat to the Heat's chances to "three-peat."
The physical play that the Bulls are notorious for is something with which Miami struggles, and getting Derrick Rose back healthy is an obvious game-changer for Chicago. They are a good young team with enough size and depth to be legit championship contender.
Heading into the start of the season, I'd give the Bulls the best chance to knock off the Heat.
Kevin (follow on Twitter): Chicago Bulls
While Kevin Durant is the second-best player in the league and the Thunder have the second-lowest odds to win it all, I think the Heat's stiffest competition resides in the East. Deciding between the Pacers and Bulls is tough, however.
The Bulls get back Derrick Rose, who is the only player not named LeBron to win the MVP award in the past five years. Coach Tom Thibodeau has the team playing tough hard-nosed defense and they hung tough last year despite injuries.
On the other hand, the Pacers have one of the league's best defenses as well and Paul George is one of the best players and defenders in the league and should be more of a household name than he is. In addition, they get back Danny Granger, who led them in scoring two seasons ago, and added Luis Scola.
For the purpose of answering this (technically my own) question, I will say it's the Bulls since they will get one of the top three to five players in the league back.
[On a side note, I love the fact that there appears to be some real animosity brewing within the Eastern Conference.]
Dan (follow on Twitter): Indiana Pacers
To me, the "Heatles" are on the inside track to have a three-peat, (trademarked by Pat Riley, funny enough), but they still do have one obstacle standing in their way. The Indiana Pacers pose the biggest threat to the Heat, as they have the best possible matchup against LeBron and crew.
The Pacers have the most effective big man in Roy Hibbert that counters the Heat's small-ball lineup, and also they will benefit from having their best scorer in Danny Granger back this year. If any team has learned to beat Miami, it will be the Pacers, as hopefully they will keep Dwyane Wade from referring to himself as four, as he calls himself "three" right now.
Sean (follow on Twitter): Houston Rockets
While I do think the Heat are the favorites to win another championship this year, if I had to bet the Hear or the field, I would take the field all day.
I think any team that is ranked in my top 10 has a legit chance at winning a title. I am going to go with Houston. I know a lot of people don't like Dwight Howard, but he is the missing piece that the Rockets needed. Howard is still the best defensive player in the game, and a matchup nightmare in particular vs. the Heat.
The Rockets also have the ability to win games draining three's. Houston was second in the NBA last year in both scoring, and three pointers made.
To view where all 30 NBA teams appear in our initial 2013-14 NBA Consensus Power Rankings, click here.
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