NBA Miami Heat

5 Teams That Could Finish Ahead of the Miami Heat in the Regular Season Standings

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5 Teams That Could Finish Ahead of the Miami Heat in the Regular Season Standings

Jesse Johnson- USA Today Sports

When it comes down to it, having home-court advantage throughout the NBA Playoffs is one of the best assets you can attain as a team. The Miami Heat have played both sides of this equation, gaining home-court advantage throughout last year’s playoffs and not having home court against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the 2012 NBA Finals. Both seasons ended the same with the Heat winning the championship.

This season there are an absurd amount of quality title contending teams in the league, and some have a chance of dethroning the Heat for the championship. These teams will be gunning for the top seed, even making it a top priority throughout the regular season. This is where these title contenders and the Heat differ. While the field may be concerned with the top seed, the Heat are focusing their efforts on health, not only by keeping Dwyane Wade from playing in back-to-back games but also by changing the rotation more frequently to allow bench players more playing time and giving more rest to starters, especially LeBron James.

With the Heat not making the top seed an absolute priority, there are five teams in the league that could end up with a better regular season record than the Heat. With a strict health and maintenance program in place for the defending champs, don’t expect the Heat to carry home-court advantage into either the Eastern Conference Finals or the NBA Finals if they make it that far. Here are the five teams that could have a better record than the Heat.

Jared Doyle is a Miami Heat writer for Follow him on Twitter @outofboundsjay, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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5. Portland Trail Blazers

Derick Hingle- USA Today Sports

Currently the second best team in the league, the Portland Trail Blazers have been on an absolute tear since the start of the regular season. And barring injury, there is no reason to believe they are going to slow down. Outside of the Miami Heat, the Trail Blazers have the second best offense in the league, ranking second in points per game. What has made this team so lethal is the combination of sharp shooting from the perimeter and the relentless aggression in the paint. The Blazers also rank seventh in rebounds per game and seventh in assists per game. These numbers are being accrued while playing in the Western Conference, which is a huge feat in its own right.

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4. Houston Rockets

Troy Taormina- USA Today Sports

Many thought that even with the addition of Dwight Howard the Houston Rockets would struggle out of the gate. They were wrong. The Houston Rockets are currently a game and a half behind the Miami Heat in the overall league standings, but due to playing in the extremely competitive Western Conference they are only 4th in the West Standings. Howard’s addition has helped lead the Rockets to becoming the top rebounding and scoring team in the league. The fast paced offense created by James Harden plus the rebounding and ferocious defense from Howard will keep the Rockets at the top of the league standings for the remainder of the season.

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3. San Antonio Spurs

Soobum Im- USA Today Sports

This rag tag group of veterans seems to drink from the fountain of youth every year because they are typically at the top of the conference at season's end looking down at the rest of the teams below. Still considered one of the best ball-sharing squads, the San Antonio Spurs are currently ranked first in the league in assists per game and are touting the third best record in the league. What has made the Spurs so great this season, once again, is their team defense. The Spurs only allow 93 points per game from their opponent, which is third best in the league. The combination of stealthy team defense and quick ball sharing has allowed the Spurs to dominate the league, and they will undoubtedly finish at the top of the league once again.

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2. Oklahoma City Thunder

Mark D. Smith- USA Today Sports

The return of Russell Westbrook has brought about a renewed confidence in Kevin Durant. That is not good news for the rest of the league. Currently ranked second in rebounds and third in points per game, the lethal combination of Westbrook and Durant’s reunion has allowed the Oklahoma City Thunder to take the league by storm offensively. If health can be maintained, the Thunder will have a great shot at the No. 1 seed in the West which would undoubtedly put them ahead of the Miami Heat in the league standings.

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1. Indiana Pacers

Gary A. Vasquez- USA Today Sports

With the Eastern Conference being as weak as it is and the Miami Heat publicly claiming they aren’t making the top seed a priority, it is almost a given the Indiana Pacers will have home-court advantage throughout the East during the playoffs. Currently with the best record in the league (18-3), the Pacers have the right blend of youth, depth, and veteran leadership to allow them to play through a full grueling season at top speed. The Pacers' defense is what has separated them from the rest of the pack, only allowing 89.5 points per game. Statistically, the Pacers are on track to become one of the greatest defensive teams to ever play the game. Their stellar defense and potential home-court advantage could finally lead them in a playoff series win over the Heat.