1. Will the Heat win the Finals?
One of the most-hated teams in NBA history came up just a bit short last season to the delight of just about everyone outside of the Miami area. This year's squad is pretty much the same with the additions of Shane Battier and Norris Cole. LeBron James also claims that last year he felt uncomfortable playing the "villain" role and this season will go back to "just having fun." With all that talent and a full year of experience together, many (25 of 30 analysts in this ESPN poll to be exact) are feeling that the Heat are a lock to win this year's Finals.
"Of course. Miami took a lot of shit last year and the beating they put on the Mavs on ring night is only the beginning. Shane Battier and Norris Cole round out the rotation, making them a better team than last year's squad. They'll win an epic series vs. OKC." —Angel Diaz
"It's simple. You either love or hate the Heat. I am a member of that latter group. So, my immediate answer would be a resounding "no." But with the trio that Miami possesses, how could a championship (and the most over-the-top victory parade ever) not be in the cards?" —Jose Martinez
"This squad was only two games away from winning it all last year and this season they're coming back more experienced and a bit more hungry. The Lakers, who seemed like the Heat's biggest threat, took a major hit when the CP3 deal got vetoed and they subsequently gave up the 2011 Sixth Man of the Year for a draft pick. Meanwhile, Miami added some depth with the addition of Shane Battier. When the South Beach crew wins the chip this year, David Stern should receive co-MVP honors at the very least." —Ralph Warner
"In a sweep over the Lakers. If you thought Shane Battier was a basketball Sabrematrician's dream before, wait till you see how he does the little things now that he's picking up trannies on the reg." —Jack Erwin
"It's extremely painful to say, but other teams just don't currently have the tools to make it happen. Lamar Odom and Tyson Chandler are to the Lakers and Mavs what Kendrick Perkins was to the Celtics. Derrick Rose still needs a legit scoring big, and we saw what happens when LeBron suffocates the defending MVP. One thing to keep in mind: If the Knicks can get Kenyon Martin and Wilson Chandler, they instantly become the Heat's biggest threat." —Tony Markovich