What would it take to Challenge the Heat in the East?

As everyone knows, the Heat are 45-3 in their last 48 games. That’s an unprecedented streak that not even the 72-win 1995 Bulls matched. At this point, it’s hardly likely that anyone will stop the Heat from repeating as the champs. Unless Wade’s knee problems flare up to the extent that he can’t play, there’s no reason to think the Pacers and then Grizzlies/Spurs will beat the Heat four times out of seven. The Pacers won’t be an absolute cakewalk, but they’ll be lucky to end up with more than two wins in the Eastern Conference Finals. Injuries have riddled many teams’ hopes this season, as D-Rose (and just about every other player on the Bulls), Danny Granger, Rajon Rondo, and others missed the playoffs. While the Heat probably would have reached the Finals either way, these injuries only further paved an easy path for Heat. Not only are the majority of the teams in the East weaker, but also the Heat are considerably better this season with improved depth, notably the additions of Ray Allen and Chris Anderson. With the current state of the East, would an all star team made up of the Eastern Conference playoff teams be able to beat the Heat? Let’s play a game to find out.paul-george-lebron-james-elite-daily-600x300
Let’s pick one player from each Eastern Conference playoff team to create an all star squad and assess its chances at beating the Heat in a seven game series. The only catch is that we can only pick healthy players, so we can’t select Derrick Rose from the Bulls, for example. Without further ado:

#2 seed New York Knicks: Carmelo Anthony
To beat the Heat, we’re going to have to be able to play small ball and Carmelo Anthony would be the perfect small ball 4. Nevermind Anthony’s history of playoff failures and inability to lead a team. He is an ideal go-to-guy when surrounded with adequate talent. Aka, he’s a solid #1 option if he’s not a team whose #2 option is J.R. Smith.

#3 seed Indiana Pacers: Paul George
We’ll need a guy that can guard LeBron semi-adequately, and George is as good as they come defensively. Offensively, George still has ways to go before he’s a superstar, but  when surrounded by players more talented than him, George could focus all of his efforts on defense. In the upcoming Eastern Conference Finals, George will have to reach a level we haven’t seen him reach yet, if the Pacers are going to have any chance to beat the Heat.

#4 seed Brooklyn Nets: Deron Williams
Williams struggled early in the season, but by playoff time, he was himself. While the age old CP3-Dwill debate clearly swung in Paul’s favor in recent years, Deron Williams is still one of the best point guards in the league. In our all star squad, he should be able to handle Mario Chalmers. On a loaded team, the Heat are weak at point guard and down low.

#5 seed Chicago Bulls: Joakim Noah
We all knew Noah was one of the better centers in the league, but after the Bulls recent series against the Heat, it’s clear that Noah is one of the three best centers in the league. Put it this way: he may not put up the points that Dwight Howard does, but in a life or death game, most people would rather go to war with Joakim Noah for a long series than Howard. And especially for the purpose of beating the Heat, Noah is one of the few guys in the league that loves playing the Heat and beating up on LeBron.

#6 seed Atlanta Hawks: Al Horford
Pairing up with his Florida teammate, Horford would add another banger down low that would hopefully be able to abuse Battier when the Heat play small ball with Bosh at center. Horford is one of the most underrated players in the league, and is also athletic enough to guard Chris Bosh. I was tempted to select Josh Smith due to his ridiculous athleticism that should be able to guard LeBron and Bosh, but he’s way too unreliable and undoubtedly hurt the locker room atmosphere. Also, I would be extremely worried he might think he’s the go-to-guy and do something like this at the end of a game.

#7 seed Boston Celtics: Paul Pierce
Pierce would be the ideal sixth man to spell Carmelo when Carmelo would start chucking the team out of the game. Pierce adds experience, scoring, and a fearlessness of LeBron to our squad. It was unrealistic to expect him to carry the load offensively for the Celtics, but with a reduced role and reduced minutes, Pierce would be an ultra efficient scorer who could spend some time guarding LeBron.

#8 seed Milwaukee Bucks: Brandon Jennings
Bottom line: you’re either picking Jennings or Monta Ellis, and you’re definitely not feeling good about either one. Both guys will think they’re ‘the guy’ and try to take big shots at the end of the game and sabotage the team in fourth quarters. However, as seventh men coming off the bench, let’s hope they’d understand their role on the team. Probably the hardest part in picking between Jennings and Ellis comes down to who would indirectly affect games the most. As in, Jennings has been to say extremely stupidly cocky things. That can either give the team some moxie, or piss off the Heat and drive them to destroy you. While the latter is more probable, I’ll go with Jennings in hope that it increases moxie.

So let’s see how our lineup would look: nba-playoff-bracket-update-heat-bulls-joakim-noah-vs-lebron-james
Point Guard: Deron Williams
Shooting Guard: Paul George
Small Forward: Carmelo Anthony
Power Forward: Al Horford
Center: Joakim Noah

Bench: Paul Pierce, Brandon Jennings

That team should certainly give the Heat a run for their money. Actually, our all star squad should beat the Heat, but when LeBron is reaching legendary status, a mix of Magic and MJ, there’s no telling how our games would play out. In a series of close games, it could easily come down to hitting big shots and when we look at our team, the only guy I REALLY trust taking a big shot is Pierce. Certainly none of the big men get the ball in the final minute down one. So, it comes down to our Williams, George, Anthony, Pierce, and Jennings. Just kidding, Jennings isn’t a possibility. Not even close. Paul George definitely isn’t getting the final shot. We can’t let a guy shooting 40% from the field and 27% from behind the arc take a game winning shot. So, it really comes down to Anthony, Pierce, and Deron Williams.Paul+Pierce+Boston+Celtics+v+Miami+Heat+Game+ldIOCIRrFiNl Melo has the chops to take big shots, but he hasn’t proven to have the clutch gene, especially in the playoffs. That leaves us with Pierce and Williams taking big shots in the final minute to beat the Heat. This would be a compelling series and it’s nearly impossible to pick against an all star team, but assuming Wade is healthy enough to play, it’s even harder to pick against a team that’s 45-3 in its last 48 games. So who would win a seven game series between the Heat and our All Star team? Impossible to pick against LeBron.

Verdict: Heat 4-3 

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