Yes, the same Miami Heat team with a seven-game winning streak going into the All-Star break, who have one of the best players in the game and are the defending championships will not repeat.
The current roster of the lockout champions isn’t built to go up against some of the best teams in this league. Without a true center, the Heat might struggle against new and improved teams fighting for a playoff spot.
Here are five reasons the Heat will not win the championship this season.
Led by MVP-candidates Tony Parker and Tim Duncan, Spurs have the best record in the league at 43-12.
The San Antonio Spurs' window of opportunity is slowly closing for the current roster. This year may finally be the year Tim Duncan and the rest of the Spurs get over the playoff hump.
The Spurs have arguably one of the deepest and most productive benches in the league. The bench averages 38.6 points and 10.5 assists per game, ranking sixth and first respectively. The Heat bench ranks 28th and 26th with 26.4 points and 5.2 assists per game.
The Spurs and Heat could meet in the NBA Finals. The Heat would be in trouble, since they aren’t exactly road warriors.
Kevin Durant isn't playing nice anymore.
Playing in the shadow of James' historic stretch and MVP-quality season, Durant has improved his overall game during the offseason. He has been shooting a career-best 51.9 percent and dishing 4.4 assists as the leading scorer in the league.
Durant's familiarity with James from working out together in the offseason might be to his advantage. If he studied James' habits on the court, he can relay the information to his teammates to help guard him and attempt to contain him.
If the Heat and Thunder meet in the NBA Finals again, the Thunder stand a better chance this time around.
The New York Knicks are back!
The Knicks are enjoying one of their best seasons in nearly a decade. So far, Mike Woodson has proven he can get the current roster to play defensively and improve the ball movement.
In two games this season against the Knicks, the Heat lost twice by 20 points. Not exactly a good look for the defending champion against maybe the only team giving them competition out of the Eastern Conference.
In both games, the Knicks forced nearly twice as many turnovers as the Heat, with James committing most of them Miami's errors. In the second game, Carmelo Anthony was out with a finger injury, and the bench contributed in the victory.
The Knicks have proven they aren’t to be taken lightly this season; the Heat have done that twice already.
The Heat and Clippers split their two matchups this season, with the home team winning both times. The Heat have struggled against bigs like DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin throughout the season. The Heat almost allowed Griffin to achieve a triple-double in their first matchup with 20 points, 14 rebounds and six assists. In the second matchup, Jordan scored 17 points and six rebounds in 21 minutes.
If these two teams meet in the playoffs, the combination of struggles against big men and the Clippers’ deep, productive bench would doom the Heat.
Paul George and the Indiana Pacers are the only other team beside the Knicks who can compete with the Heat out of the Eastern Conference.
The Pacers currently led the league in rebounding with 45.8 rebounds a game and 89.9 points allowed per game.
In the two games this season against the Heat, the Pacers beat them down twice at home and didn’t allowed the Heat to score more than 90 points. In the first game, David West and George both recorded double-doubles, while the Pacers big men out-rebounded the Heat by 19.
The Heat will struggle if they meet the Pacers in the playoffs. The Pacers possess young athletic players who aren't afraid of a challenge.