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Miami Heat: Ranking the biggest threats in the Eastern Conference

As the Miami Heat embark on another quest for an NBA championship, there will be more competition than ever. The Eastern Conference improved a lot this summer, and a bunch of teams will be competing for a top playoff spot.

The general consensus is that the Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets are going to be the top two seeds in the East. While it’s entirely possible that the Heat challenge them for one of those spots, let’s assume that to be true for the purpose of this article.

If the ultimate goal for the Miami Heat were the three seed, what other teams do they have to worry about? Everyone knows that the Bucks and Nets are going to be great, but who else will?

Who are the top five threats in the East outside of the Bucks and Nets? Who does the Miami Heat have to look out for as they try to earn the three-seed?

Ranking the biggest threats to the Miami Heat: 5. Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls made a ton of moves this offseason. They have a clear goal in mind, and that goal is to make the playoffs as soon as possible.

Well, with all the changes they made, they are set up perfectly to achieve that goal. In fact, they could end up outperforming expectations this season if everything goes well.

Chicago has a very well-rounded roster with a great mix of offense and defense. Just look at their backcourt – Zach LaVine is one of the best offensive guards in the league and the same can be said about Lonzo Ball on defense.

They have all the pieces to be a very competitive team this season. They are ranked fifth for a reason, but if they can build up team chemistry early in the year, who knows what they could accomplish.

Ranking the biggest threats to the Miami Heat: 4. New York Knicks

The New York Knicks shocked the world last season when they clinched the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. They followed up that success by making even more improvements this summer.

New York managed to sign both Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier, while also retaining a large majority of their key pieces from last season. They have high hopes for the upcoming campaign.

With Julius Randle’s rise to stardom and RJ Barrett’s improvements, they could be a dangerous team in the East. If Walker returns to near full health, they could be a force to be reckoned with.

However, a large amount of New York’s long-term success is contingent on Walker’s health. That’s why they are only ranked fourth on this list.

Ranking the biggest threats to the Miami Heat: 3. Atlanta Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks are coming off of an extremely improbable run to the Eastern Conference Finals. With Trae Young at the helm, they’ll be looking to replicate that success and then some.

Young proved that he is fully capable of being the leader of a winning team. Atlanta will want to build on that this season and help Young become the best version of himself.

They were able to re-sign John Collins this offseason which was a huge win. They also have almost exactly the same supporting cast coming back as well.

The trio of Young, Collins, and Clint Capela has the potential to be one of the best in the NBA. The Hawks may be a young team, but they should not be ignored.

Ranking the biggest threats to the Miami Heat: 2. Philadelphia 76ers

If it weren’t for the Ben Simmons situation, the Philadelphia 76ers would be at the top of this list. Joel Embiid is a top ten player in the league and could be a perennial MVP candidate.

His dominance of the paint is unlike anything the NBA has seen in a long time. There are very few NBA centers who can guard him, but luckily, the Miami Heat have one of the best options around on their roster.

Even if Simmons ends up leaving, the 76ers should be able to get a decent return. Embiid, Tobias Harris, and whatever they get in return for Simmons should be enough to compete.

It’s tough to put the 76ers at number one on this list before they deal with the Simmons issues. That being said, once they get that sorted out, expect to see Philadelphia near the top of the East once again.

Ranking the biggest threats to the Miami Heat: 1. Boston Celtics

Despite losing Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier this offseason, the Boston Celtics might have gotten better. They not only replaced those two players but improved their overall depth.

With all of his injuries, Walker ended up hurting the Celtics more than helping them at times last season. Now, they have Dennis Schroder to replace him, Josh Richardson to replace Evan Fournier, and Al Horford to help mentor Robert Williams III.

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are two All-Stars who are both getting better every year. Tatum alone caused havoc in the scoring column last year, and he could be in store for an even better season this year.

They have the starpower, the depth, and the experience to compete in the East this year. Outside of the Bucks and Nets, the Celtics are the team for the Miami Heat to look out for this season.

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