With no disrespect to all the other championship contenders, the minute LeBron James decided to play for Miami over the Cleveland Cavaliers, the New York Knicks, the Chicago Bulls, and the Los Angeles Clippers, the Heat jumped out to the forefront of the NBA Championship race.
While the reigning champion Los Angeles Lakers are still undoubtedly the team to beat, there is no doubt that Miami's new "Big Three" are the biggest threat to their crown.
With a roster that boasts three legitimate superstars and a very serviceable supporting cast, the media have already crowned them unofficial NBA champions for the next few seasons.
But after three consecutive finals appearances and two consecutive finals wins, it would be very unwise to count out the Los Angeles Lakers this early in the offseason, especially before the Heat have played any games together.
Both teams still have whole regular season to play and formidable roadblocks in their quest for a championship. The Heat still have to deal with the Boston Celtics and the Orlando Magic, the Eastern Conference champions from the past three seasons. Out west, the Lakers have a bevy of hungry teams aiming for the target on their back.
But ultimately, when all is said and done, everyone expects the best two teams in the NBA to face one another. Barring an unforeseen upset against either team, the 2011 NBA finals will pit the Lakers against the Heat. So let's see how they match up against each other.