How Other NBA Contenders Can Dethrone Miami Heat in 2014

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How Other NBA Contenders Can Dethrone Miami Heat in 2014
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

LeBron James and the Miami Heat finished the 2012-13 NBA season on top, but did so by only the slimmest of margins. That has to be encouraging for a number of other contenders who'll do their best to gear up this summer to make another run at the champs.

The league now knows that the Heat are vulnerable in a couple of key areas. They struggle against elite size in the paint and can be beaten with rapid, decisive ball movement that exploits their hyper-aggressive traps on defense. Isolation offense doesn't work, and teams generally need multiple playmakers and at least two shooters to space the floor.

You'll note that, in many ways, the recipe for beating the Heat mirrors the broader trends sweeping across the league in response to overloaded defenses and smaller lineups.

The further we get from Miami's title celebration, the more people will appreciate how dominant the Heat's championship season was. After 66 wins and a massive 27-game victory streak in the regular season, people might start to forget how many close calls there were in the postseason.

The Heat needed a full seven games to defeat the Indiana Pacers in the conference finals and were mere seconds from falling to the Spurs in six games. Front offices across the NBA watched those series and are likely already hard at work hoping to be the ones to dethrone the Heat in 2014.

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