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Who’s the Heat’s biggest rival?

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The Miami Heat have been the most hated team by several measures at times, but who is their rival?

Thanks to LeBron James and the Big Three era, the Miami Heat spent a considerable time as the NBA’s most hated team. But those days are gone, and there has been plenty others to hate since then.

But there’s an interesting question we want to tackle here and that is:
Who is the Miami Heat’s biggest rival?

The reality is that it isn’t a super obvious answer. So let’s spend some time talking about the teams that are in the mix for the Heat’s biggest rival.

Boston Celtics

All-Time Temperature: MEDIUM HOT
Current Temperature: COLD
Ranking: 3

This rivalry was basically fueled by two sets of Big Threes. The Celtics combo of Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett came together to win the 2008 NBA Championship. After injuries haltered them in 2009, they made it back in 2010 but lost in 7 games in the Finals. Boston had a nice little era where they were really good.

The Heat and Celtics met in the 2010 Playoffs, and Boston handed Dwyane Wade a 4-1 series defeat in the First Round. That same postseason, they ended LeBron James’ season. But then James joined the Heat. And for the next two seasons and postseasons, these teams did not like each other.

The Heat beat the Celtics in both of those playoff runs to their 2011 and 2012 NBA Finals runs. But this rivalry was deeper because there was real dislike for each other. I mean, every time you hear Bill Simmons talk you feel it. They did not like Miami one bit. And to top it off, Ray Allen left the Celtics in 2012 to join the Heat.

The Celtics were a formidable foe, but couldn’t beat the Heat in a series. There were few handshakes, hugs or congratulations when these teams faced off. But this rivalry lasted only 3 seasons before that Celtic roster was restructured in the 2013 offseason.

Indiana Pacers

All-Time Temperature: MEDIUM HOT
Current Temperature: MEDIUM
Ranking: 2

Now this rivalry is also interesting because it is rooted in a little bit of jealousy. The Pacers wanted so badly to beat the Heat and be better than them, but they simply weren’t.

Dwyane Wade lost to the Pacers in the 2004 NBA Playoffs as a rookie. But then Miami faced the Pacers in three consecutive Playoffs from 2012-2014. The first series was one that Chris Bosh missed nearly the entire series. But Wade and James led with a spectacular effort from each of them.

The Pacers grew and got better, and so did Paul George. And in 2013, the Pacers pushed them to 7 games, but got smacked in Game 7. In 2014, Indiana did what they needed and earned home court advantage for the Playoffs, but Miami came in and beat them in 6 games.

This rivalry was rooted in all the extra stuff. The rough fouls, trash-talk, blowing in people’s ears, and everything in between. Once Lance Stephenson got involved, it just became entertaining. It was great to watch. Indiana truly thought they were better, but they just couldn’t get it done against Miami.

It should also noted that Dwyane Wade said that this wasn’t a rivalry because “they never beat us.” And while that is true, there was enough distain between them to make this a decent rivalry.

Today, the Heat and Pacers could be squaring off against each other in a Playoff series which could reignite some lost feelings.

New York Knicks

All-Time Temperature: HOT
Current Temperature: COLD
Ranking: 1

You have to dig deeper in the time machine, but this rivalry had everything you wanted. A head coach leaves the cold streets of New York to head to Miami to be a team president and coach. The Heat and Knicks met 4 consecutive years in the NBA Playoffs from 1997-2000. The Heat won the first, and the Knicks won the last three, and each one went the distance.

They also met in the 2012 Playoffs were Miami won 4-1. Amaré did his best to continue the rivalry...

But this rivalry including fights, brawls, leg grabbings, benches cleared, suspensions, hatred and other things like basketball. This was hatred. Real hatred. And it was ugly. The Knicks and Heat were the premiere NBA rivalry during this time. It didn’t end well for Miami.

If you don’t know what this was about then you aren’t a real Heat fan.

Still to this day when the Knicks visit Miami, there are plenty of Knicks fans in attendance. Why? I have no idea, their team has been awful since that last series in 2000, but who knows, they are there.

Those years were hard because Miami was good, but the Knicks just had a way of beating the Heat and it hurt. There is still some level of anomosity toward the Knicks even though they are well off the radar, and the laughing stock of NBA franchises.

Dan LeBatard would rant, “New York, welcome to another decade of irrelevance!”

The Heat and Knicks will never be friends. Probably will never execute a trade together, and will still enjoy when the other falters. They are the Heat’s biggest rival — we are just waiting for them to be relevant again so the victories will matter.

The Heat have had some decent rivalries — but I would be curious to know what you think. Others that we could have talked about would be the Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs (both have seen the Heat in the Finals twice) or even the Detroit Pistons.

But these seemed to be the ones with the most juice to them.