At one point it looked as if the power was shifting towards the Eastern Conference. Now that the West has won the last three NBA championships, that is up for debate.
What Derrick Rose did for Chicago last year was amazing. As the youngest MVP in history, Rose guided the injury-plagued Bulls to a top seed in the East over the heavily-favored Celtics and Heat. However, Chicago showed a lot of weakness, getting heavy competition from the eighth-seeded Indiana Pacers.
After they escaped Indiana and the Atlanta Hawks, the Heat provided a true formula for beating Chicago: stop Derrick Rose, stop the Bulls.
Without a true second scoring option, the Bulls will never succeed in a series against the Heat.
The Boston Celtics have a major issue when it comes to age. In a shortened season, the Celtics could be primed for another run at a championship, but they showed true weakness come playoff time last year. After annihilating a newly-put-together Knicks team, Boston fell short against the Heat.
It was Miami's fresh young legs that made the major difference in the series. The Heat ran the Celtics up and down the court and eventually back to Beantown.
Boston could use a few key role players to take a lot of pressure off of the aging stars, but without them the Celtics could be doomed.
The Knicks have two of the most offensively-talented players in the NBA in Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, but other than that no true threats. While Chauncey Billups is one of the better point guards of the decade, he will likely have a career-declining season at the age of 35. With no defensive intensity Miami will put up big offensive numbers against the Knicks.
Chris Paul is a possibility in 2012, but for now it's a two man show.
Both the Atlanta Hawks and Orlando Magic have shown interest in pursuing trade opportunities. Actually, there is a major possibility Atlanta's Josh Smith could end up in Orlando.
This could instantly make Orlando the best defensive front court in the NBA. However, the Magic have fallen off in the past few years after a Finals appearance. While gradually slipping down the power rankings, it could be time for Orlando to rebuild in hopes of satisfying superstar Dwight Howard.
If Atlanta decides to trade Smith, consider them no better than a possible sixth seed. As of now they are a competitive team who won a surprise playoff series last year. But with new ownership, losing a valuable sixth man and possibly exploring options for Smith, it could be time to initiate the rebuilding phase.
Yes, Miami has weaknesses, but they are truly the most complete team in the East. As it stands now other teams will threaten in the East, but the Heat are top dogs.