There are a few noteworthy things that bring an added level of excitement in the NBA—trades and rivalries.
And although the Miami Heat don't look to be a player in the first category, they certainly have their fair share of rivalries.
Some of those rivalries have blossomed; other are slowly starting to wither.
Finally, some remain as heated as ever before.
Which is why, whenever the next five teams are on Miami's schedule, you circle your calendar, try to get tickets, talk about the matchup a few days before the game with anyone who'll listen and proudly wear the jersey of your team in a subconscious gesture of allegiance.
Because, these next five teams symbolize just a little more than the other 25 teams in the league to the Heat.
Rival No. 5: Oklahoma City Thunder
Level of Animosity: Low
Best Description of Animosity: Resentment/competitive respect
Principle Components of Rivalry: LeBron James and Kevin Durant
Summary: Kevin Durant and LeBron James are the best two players in the NBA—this we know. They also happen to be friends and meet with each other once every offseason for the span of a week to prepare for the upcoming season.
The reason this rivalry is last on the list is because these two stars haven't had a chance to fully develop a hatred for one another. Their teams only play twice in the regular season and they have only played against each other once in the NBA Finals. Nevertheless, there are too many talented guys on both rosters for these teams not to be slated to meet in the NBA Finals for the foreseeable future.
So although LeBron and Kevin Durant like each other now, if history is any indicator, it's only a matter of time before we see the spirit of competition spill over into something more raw.
Rival No. 4: Cleveland Cavaliers
Level of Animosity: Medium-low
Best Characterization of animosity: One-sided hatred
Principle components: Dan Gilbert, LeBron James, state of Ohio
Summary: I once wrote in one of my earliest articles on Bleacher Report that if hate was an acronym, the h would stand for hope. Any time you take away a person's hope, hatred ensues.
LeBron once represented that hope to the cursed sports city of Cleveland. Now, he is just the most recent example of their jinxed fate.
In the past two years, this rivalry has cooled off some, particularly since the Cavs added Kyrie Irving, but there is still a good amount of hatred that remains.
And when LeBron eventually returns to Cleveland this season, it won't be pretty.
Rival No. 3: Dallas Mavericks
Level of Animosity: Medium
Best Characterization of Rivalry: A bitter taste of the past
Summary: The Miami Heat beat the Mavericks in 2006 to win the championship, and the Mavericks exacted their revenge in 2011.
Based on that fact alone, the Mavericks have to be among the top three rivals of the Miami Heat.
However, circumstances have changed to cool off the animosity in this rivalry.
Jason Terry and DeShawn Stevenson are gone.
The Heat have won a championship.
The Mavericks' free agency hopes took a swan dive, and their team is in some weird limbo state of competitive transition.
Most of all, they don't see each other enough during the regular season to keep the animosity as fresh as possible.
Still, it's hard to imagine that these two teams don't get a bit amped up whenever they play each other.
Rival No. 2: Indiana Pacers
Level of Animosity: Medium-hot
Best Characterization of Animosity: Jealousy
Principle components: LeBron James, Danny Granger, Lance Stephenson, Derek Pittman
Summary: The Miami Heat are everything the Indiana Pacers aren't. The Miami Heat get national coverage and attention on an everyday basis; the Pacers don't. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have their hands in commercials, shoe deals, ESPY Awards, rap songs, celebrity parties and ESPN's annual best player rankings; Danny Granger, on the other hand, maybe gets free appetizers at Applebee's.
Because of this, the Indiana Pacers have a serious inferiority-complex induced level of animosity towards the Miami Heat.
And since these two teams play in the same conference, you can bank that their games will be open to any and all possibilities, including: Technical fouls, flagrant fouls, shoving matches and maybe even fights.
Thankfully, though, these collection of Pacers aren't nutty enough to let their emotions spill over to the fans. At least, I think they aren't.
Rival No. 1: Boston Celtics
Level Of Animosity: Red hot!
Best Characterization of Rivalry: Disgust
Principle Components: Ray Allen, the Miami Heat, the Boston Celtics
Summary: The Miami Heat haven't had a rival like the Boston Celtics since they had a rivalry with the New York Knicks.
And this rivalry continues to grow, with the Ray Allen development adding the latest fuel to the fire.
Now, in the Heat's rivalry with the Pacers, anything is possible, but with the Celtics, it's usually expected.
From fights between Quentin Richardson and Kevin Garnett to purposeful flagrant fouls and a myriad of technicals, these two teams hate each other.
Actually, let me rephrase that.
The Boston Celtics hate the Miami Heat, while the Miami Heat don't really care for the Celtics.
And that's mainly because the Heat has owned this matchup, eliminating Boston each of the last two years of the playoffs.
Be that as it may, these two teams make up the fiercest rivalry in the NBA right now, and you can bet we will see even more fireworks this season.
Speaking of which—hey Boston, We Got Ray!