Many basketball fans would love to see an NBA Finals matchup between LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, but what are the chances that the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers meet in June?
There are two teams who can prevent this from happening, and they are the Boston Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder.
Let's examine the Heat and Lakers' obstacles in their quest for a championship.
Will the Heat Reach the NBA Finals for a 3rd Straight Year?
After losing to the Heat in seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals last season, the Celtics made some nice improvements to their team to improve their chances versus Miami in the playoffs this year.
Boston replaced an aging Ray Allen with a more athletic and more consistent shooting guard in veteran Jason Terry, drafted two big men in Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo, signed guard Courtney Lee for depth and will get young forward Jeff Green back after he missed all of last season recovering from heart surgery.
If the Celtics stay healthy, which is a big "if," they will have a great chance to beat Miami because they have a better and deeper frontcourt.
Boston is still a real threat to Miami, and it wouldn't be surprising at all if the defending champs lost to the Celtics at some point in the playoffs.
Right now, I give the Celtics a slight edge over the Heat because of their depth, the athleticism they added with Green coming back, the signings of Terry and Lee, plus the fact that star point guard Rajon Rondo is a player that Miami has real difficulties guarding.
The Celtics are the only team in the East who can prevent the Heat from getting back to the finals.
Will the Lakers get back to the NBA Finals for first time since 2010?
The Lakers' additions of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard have given the purple and gold the most impressive starting five in basketball, but do they have enough of a bench to defeat a young, talented and deep Oklahoma City Thunder team?
When Steve Blake and Metta World Piece are your best bench players, quality depth is clearly an issue. The Lakers' bench isn't good enough to help them defeat the Thunder in a seven-game series.
Even though the Lakers may have a better starting five on paper than the Thunder, there are some matchup problems for the purple and gold.
Oklahoma City star point guard Russell Westbrook will dominate Steve Nash on offense because the 38-year-old veteran doesn't have the quickness or defensive ability to stop the Thunder guard.
Thunder center Kendrick Perkins has a long history of defending and frustrating Dwight Howard from when they met in the Eastern Conference playoffs during their days with the Celtics and Orlando Magic.
Unless the Lakers add a little more to their bench, especially in the frontcourt, they won't beat a young Thunder team that still has a lot of room for improvement and beat Los Angeles in five games during last season's playoffs.
The San Antonio Spurs will be a good test for the Lakers and Thunder, but they won't prevent either team from winning the West.
Odds the 2013 NBA Finals Matchup is Heat vs. Lakers
Will the Lakers and Heat meet in the 2013 NBA Finals?
These two teams might have the most talent, but they aren't locks to reach the NBA Finals. Will James have the same drive and determination now that he's finally a champion? Will the Lakers be able to gel as a starting five and get enough production from their bench to win the Western Conference?
These are legitimate questions, and the answers will provide us with a better idea of the chances that the Heat and Lakers meet in June.
The Celtics and Thunder are very motivated coming into the 2012-13 NBA season, and last year's playoff defeats have given them extra incentive to win.
We could finally see a Kobe vs. LeBron NBA Finals this season, but the chances that happens are small.