Miami Heat: 4 Teams That Want to Destroy Reigning NBA Champs in 2012-13
It is nothing new for the Heat, though. They have been the team everyone wants to destroy since superstars LeBron James and Chris Bosh decided to call South Beach their new home and team up with Dwyane Wade.
The Heat fell short in their first season together, losing to the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals, but last season the league's best trio of players took over and would not be denied the Larry O'Brien Trophy.
This season the Heat have assembled an improved roster to defend their championship. To the displeasure of many teams around the NBA, former veteran All-Stars Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis signed to play with Miami this offseason.
Here are four teams that will have extra motivation in 2012-13 to knock the Miami Heat off their throne.
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The Celtics were the original "Big Three" in this new era of the NBA when it joined forces in the summer of 2007. However, the Heat now have one of those three in Ray Allen.
Boston will be wanting to prove to the entire NBA that, despite its aging stars Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, it is still among the league's elite teams.
Boston added former Dallas Maverick Jason Terry to take over Allen's role. Terry made some waves this week, saying in an interview with ESPNBoston.com: "My mission is to kill. Whoever that is, whether it's the Heat, whether it's the Lakers. Hopefully both. That's my mission and that's what I'm here to do."
Los Angeles Lakers
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The Heat and Lakers only face off twice in the regular season, but those two games will be ones for the ages.
Now the Lakers have one of the best passers in history in Nash, the league's top big man in Howard, an older-but-still-elite Kobe Bryant and finesse seven-footer Pau Gasol.
The Lakers are in win-now mode. Their stars are aging and it's championship or bust. It was the same situation for the Heat when they came together, but they had the luxury of having younger stars who could make multiple runs.
When the two teams meet up, there could be potentially eight future Hall of Famers on the floor at the same time.
Would it be any surprise if it was the Kobe and the Lakers battling and LeBron and the Heat in the NBA Finals this year? No, not one bit.
New York Knicks
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Oklahoma City Thunder
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The young Oklahoma City Thunder looked dominant through their run to the 2012 NBA Finals, but had their season ended by the Heat in only five games.
The Thunder's core of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and James Harden did not have the experience to keep up with the Heat. Derek Fisher had a ton of Finals experience under his belt, but he was not a big contributor for the Thunder.
OKC's roster now has the experience of being so close to the ultimate goal of winning a championship and then losing in heartbreaking fashion. The Heat losing in 2011 was their best motivation and the main reason they were hoisting the Larry O'Brien Trophy at the end of the year. OKC should take note.
The Thunder will come into the 2012-13 season with a vengeance and wanting a shot at redemption against the Heat. Christmas Day will be the Thunder's first opportunity to take a shot at the reigning champs.