Miami Heat Aren’t The Only Team Out Of Place In The Eastern Conference

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Tracking The 5 So-Called Eastern Conference Elite

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

When the 2013-14 NBA season began, the talk of the league was teams rigging for Andrew Wiggins. And everyone had their opinions on which general managers were going to sink their teams to the lottery. ESPN even created a “Tank Rank” to keep an eye on the top 10 teams most likely to risk it all for a chance to draft Wiggins and his friends, Julius Randle and Jabari Parker.

In the words of draft expert Chad Ford, “a quick first-round exit in the playoffs is probably not worth passing on a shot at these guys.” Problem is, players for teams like the Philadelphia 76ers and the Phoenix Suns haven’t received that memo.

Fortunately for the Miami Heat, early season returns have their stiffest competition in the Eastern Conference cellar looking excited to toss their hats into the tank race -- except for, of course, the 8-0 Indiana Pacers.

It's been well documented that the Heat jumped out to a slow start. They were lazy on defense, uninspired and little turnover monsters.

Maybe it was boredom. Maybe it was the championship hangover. But what we know for sure is that the other beasts from the East couldn't claim those same problems. As a matter of fact the Chicago Bulls were the only team with a built in excuse. And still, the talking heads expected them to do better.

You would think that as a result of the other teams' struggles, Miami would get a slight pass for losing two games that should have been guaranteed. However 5-3 is unacceptable when you needed every inch of home court to win the NBA Finals last summer.

However, instead of killing the Heat we chose the next five slides to highlight where the East’s elite stand.

Please comment using the section below, or reach out to us using the hash #RantNBA.

Richard Nurse is a Miami Heat columnist for Follow him on Twitter @blackirishpr or add him to your network on Google.

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Over The Hill?

Brooklyn Nets
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

With a 1-4 record since coach Jason Kidd returned from suspension and the newly acquired Kevin Garnett shooting 31 percent, Paul Pierce and the 2-5 Brooklyn Nets look like the broken down squad that was in Boston.

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Madison Avenue Misery

New York Knicks
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

After a few months of Carmelo Anthony’s opt out plans, J.R. Smith's suspension, Iman Shumpert trade rumors and a Tyson Chandler injury, the 3-5 New York Knicks are looking slightly better than the bottom-feeders across the bridge but they are also getting more of the media brunt.

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Can't Shake The Rust

Chicago Bulls
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Derrick Rose lit up the preseason. At one point he was shooting 59 percent from the field and 60 percent from three. Unfortunately for the Chicago Bulls that turned in to 33 and 25 percent once the season began.

The 3-3 Bulls are also dealing with Rose’s new neck and hamstring injuries.

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The Battle Of Boredom

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Although the Miami Heat have been sluggish, they still hold the second place spot in the East. However, their uneven play could have them looking up at a team in Indiana that finally got the best of them.

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King Of The Hill

Indiana Pacers
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Indiana Pacers are proving that they aren’t withering under the pressure of the spotlight. At 8-0, they seem ready to show Miami why they thought home court and minor injuries kept them from being the better team the last two years.