First-Round NBA Playoff Matchups the Miami Heat Do and Don't Want

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First-Round NBA Playoff Matchups the Miami Heat Do and Don't Want
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
As LeBron and the Heat gear up for round one of the playoffs, are there any matchups they'd prefer to avoid?

The Denver Nuggets topped the Seattle Supersonics in 1994.

The Golden State Warriors slid by the Dallas Mavericks in 2007.

The Memphis Grizzlies thumped the San Antonio Spurs in 2011.

Unlike the Davis vs. Goliath-caliber shocks that occur with some regularity on the gridiron, the NBA playoffs aren’t typified by big round-one upsets.

But they can and do happen.

The 2013-14 Miami Heat probably won't be the next giant to fall. But while the Heat’s road to a three-peat is exceedingly likely to extend beyond the postseason’s initial series, LeBron James and company will, in fact, be playing a best-of-seven against a professional basketball team this April. And there’s at least some mathematical chance that one of those teams could derail Miami. 

But which team would that be?

Given the glut of organizations packed into the Eastern Conference’s lower-middle class, and the tightening race for the No. 1 seed between the Heat and the Indiana Pacers, it’s difficult to project which teams will be Miami’s first playoff opponent. There are seven teams, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks, Charlotte Bobcats, Atlanta Hawks, Washington Wizards and Brooklyn Nets, that the champs could possibly run into.

Some of these squads figure to pose very few problems for the Heat and some of them figure to pose…well, no problems for the Heat.

What follows is a look at each potential first-round matchup for the defending champs, ranked in reverse order of favorability.


*All stats updated to March 15.

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