A recent poll amongst the NBA's general managers revealed that those in the league's front offices have picked the Miami Heat to win the NBA Championship for a third consecutive year, but TNT analyst Steve Kerr and his broadcast partner Reggie Miller aren't so eager to hand Miami the crown just yet.
Kerr, a five-time NBA Champion said on a call Tuesday afternoon that a stronger Eastern Conference and the threat of serious injury to Miami's Big Three are both obstacles that could knock the Heat out, but the emotional grind of getting back to the Finals could be the team's biggest threat.
"If I had to single out one factor, it would just be the emotional factor of trying to get back to the Finals for the fourth straight year," he said. "That hasn't been done since the mid-‘80s, the Celtics, and it is just a difficult thing to do. Teams have been scheming and planning for Miami for three years now, trying to figure out how to beat them. There's a lot of stress that comes with that kind of run. If they are able to three-peat, it will be an incredible accomplishment and it will surpass everything they have done."
Kerr's TNT colleague, Reggie Miller believes that offseason moves made by the Heat's Eastern Conference rivals Indiana, Chicago and Brooklyn may be their biggest threat.
"I think the Eastern Conference has gotten better," Miller said. "Indiana getting C.J. Watson, (Luis) Scola - to me, the only thing holding the Pacers back last year was experience. They've accomplished that, getting to the conference finals and going seven games with Miami. Derrick Rose, the former MVP, coming back and looking like the Derrick of old (for Chicago). And Brooklyn, assembling that team of future Hall of Famers mixed in with Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez, Deron Williams. The Eastern Conference landscape has gotten better."
Of course, Miller also knows that once you have the league's MVP on your team you can never really count that team out.
"As long as you have the best player on the planet, you can never really discount the Heat," Miller said. "And that's what they have. They always have the ultimate trump card, LeBron James."
The Heat have been to the NBA Finals in three consecutive years. After losing to the Dallas Mavericks in the 2010-11 Finals they went on to knock off the Oklahoma City Thunder (2011-12) and San Antonio Spurs (2012-13) in the next two championship rounds.