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NBA Miami Heat

Miami Heat Will Still Be A Top-3 Team In Eastern Conference

August 10, 2014: Steve Mitchell; The Miami Heat will have the third best record in the Eastern Conference next season, and here is why.

Steve Mitchell – USA Today Sports

Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade and the rest of the current Miami Heat roster will have their work cut out for them this upcoming season. The Eastern Conference has been changed dramatically by free agency this summer, and now with the potential acquisition of Kevin Love and several other veteran players, the Cleveland Cavaliers are looking like the runaway favorites to make it back to the NBA Finals, something the franchise hasn’t achieved since 2007.

In lieu of losing LeBron James in free agency, Pat Riley and the rest of the organization acted quickly to keep the franchise in contention mode. It was assumed that Bosh would shortly follow James’ suit by signing a four-year contract with the Houston Rockets, but he instead choose to take the bigger contract, signing a five-year, $118 million ontract to stay in Miami and become the No. 1 option for the offense. By doing this, he gave Riley leverage to also sign Luol Deng, a player who still has much to contribute, and financial flexibility to resign Wade, Chris Andersen, Udonis Haslem and Mario Chalmers.

Although the Heat have lost the best player in the league, they still have the players necessary to compete in the conference. Outside of the Cavaliers, the Chicago Bulls have also retooled by dropping Carlos Boozer and signing Pau Gasol. Coupled with a healthy and resurgent Derrick Rose, the Bulls are also a team poised to take the conference title. Once you go beyond the Bulls and the Cavaliers, the Heat will still have to compete against up and coming teams like the Toronto Raptors and the Washington Wizards for the third best record, but that achievement is a lot more attainable.

Erik Spoelstra will have to drastically change both the offense and defense for a new starting lineup that consists of Chalmers, Wade, Deng, Josh McRoberts and Bosh. More than half of the roster is also new, so there are bound to be plenty of bumps in the road and frequent adjustments, but if the majority of the roster can stay relatively healthy, this is still a team viable to compete for the third seed heading into the playoffs. The matchups from that point forward will determine Miami’s fate.

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