Don't look now, but after years of futility, the Eastern Conference is now absolutely stacked. Well, at the top, anyway.
The Nets had a massive offseason, acquiring Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry from the Boston Celtics and signing role players such as Andrei Kirilenko. The Pacers beefed up their bench and also added Luis Scola, yet another skilled big body up front.
The New York Knicks picked up the likes of Andrea Bargnani, Metta World Peace and Beno Udrih. Then, of course, the Chicago Bulls will be getting Derrick Rose back in 2013-14.
The East is loaded in terms of its top five teams, and each and every one of those ballclubs—particularly the Nets and Pacers because of their size—can cause the Heat significant problems.
Let's start with Brooklyn. It now has a frontcourt rotation consisting of Garnett, Brook Lopez, Andray Blatche and Reggie Evans. That is an outstanding four-man group that new head coach Jason Kidd can mix-and-match throughout games. With Miami known to struggle against bigger teams, the Nets can give Erik Spoelstra's boys nightmares with their depth and versatility on the interior.
Then you have Indiana, the squad that just took the Heat to seven games in the conference finals. Roy Hibbert and David West are still aboard, and now, Scola is hopping on for the ride. Miami already had issues dealing with Hibbert and West. Throwing Scola into the fray complicates things that much more.
Also, while the Knicks and Bulls may not pose the sort of mismatches that Brooklyn and the Pacers do, they both certainly have the talent and the depth to give the Heat a run for their money.
It is not going to be easy for Miami to win the East for a fourth straight year. Heck, it won't even be easy getting past the second round.