NBA Miami Heat

5 Teams That Could Stop A Miami Heat 3-Peat

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5 Teams That "Could" Stop a Miami Heat 3-Peat

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As the dawn of a new season is on the horizon, the debate will arise once again as to who can challenge the previous champions, the Miami Heat. As the Heat have won back-to-back championships, it seems inevitable that someone will knock them off their reign at the top.

But the question remains as to who that team might be. Last season, both the Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs took the Heat to seven games, but somehow the champs found a way to prevail over their opponents. And when it comes to winning championships, sometimes you need a little bit of luck.

We can all remember Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals when LeBron James made a lay-up as time expired to steal their first win of the series. And when asked in an interview why he wasn't more excited about the win, he responded, "It's just one game. We're excited about the win, but we have to get better going in to Game 2." These are words spoken by a true champion who understands what it takes to win a seven game series.

And then we have Ray Allen's monumental 3-pointer to save the Heat from elimination and give them the boost they needed to take home sweet victory. All teams need a little bit of luck, even the all-time greats.

As we look forward to the 2013-14 NBA season, they are so many competitive teams that could challenge the defending champs in the upcoming season. Let's take a peek at those who might overcome the mighty Heat.

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5. Chicago Bulls

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With the return of Derrick Rose, there are truly no limitations to what this team can accomplish. The former MVP will most definitely provide a boost to his Chicago Bulls, but the real question is will he be the same player he was before his injury? However, with Joakim Noah averaging a double-double and Carlos Boozer averaging around 16 points and 10 rebounds a game last season, Rose should be able to ease his way back with the help of his "Big Two." And as the Bulls-Heat rivalry has only escalated in recent seasons, I think this will be a truly enticing matchup between these two superpowers. The battle will come down to the key matchup of two superstars in LeBron James and Derrick Rose. We'll get a preview of this playoff matchup when the two face off on opening day.

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4. San Antonio Spurs

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Now some may argue that the San Antonio Spurs should have won the NBA Finals last season, but the truth of the matter is they let their championship slip away and the Miami Heat were crowned king. And as they have six key players over the age of 31, including Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, the Spurs' decade of greatness may be coming to an end. Although they have one of the all-time great coaches in Gregg Popovich, a coach can only take you so far. This team definitely gave the Heat a scare and if it weren't for Ray Allen's three, we may have been singing a different tune at season's end. So we'll see if these aging All-Stars can continue surprise us with their success.

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3. Oklahoma City Thunder

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I'm sure all the members of the Oklahoma City Thunder have tried to forget the 2012 NBA Finals, when they were ousted by the Miami Heat in five games. We all try to forget, but the truth is we never do. This team may have met the Heat in the Finals again last season if it weren't for an ACL tear to star point guard Russell Westbrook. The tandem of Westbrook and Kevin Durant could rival that of Dwayne Wade and LeBron James. And if the Thunder can stay healthy throughout the course of next season, we could see a rematch of the 2012 Finals.

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2. Indiana Pacers

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Out of all the teams we have mentioned thus far, this team has the most potential and promise out of the rest because of their youthful roster and tremendous defense. The Indiana Pacers took the Heat to seven games in last year's Eastern Conference Finals, and may have ran away with an Eastern Conference title if it weren't for King James and his Game 1 heroics. With up-and-coming stars like Paul George and Roy Hibbert, the Pacers will be a forced to be reckoned with for years to come. And with a group of 12 players younger than the age of 30, these young stars could provide a challenge to the defending NBA champs.

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1. Miami Heat

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The truth is that the biggest threat to a Miami Heat three-peat is ... the Miami Heat. It seems silly to think that the Heat could stop themselves from winning another championship, but when it comes down to it, the Heat are the best team in the NBA and they should win another title. But if they crumble under the pressure of being the best, or are hindered by injuries to Greg Oden and/or Dwayne Wade, they could fall from the top. When you're on top, it seems like the only way to go is down; but the reality is the Heat are still on the rise, and if they can it keep together for a third consecutive season, they will reap the benefits of joining greatness.