Never mind that the Los Angeles Lakers added Dwight Howard and Steve Nash in the offseason, the majority of NBA general managers still believe the Miami Heat will raise the Larry O’Brien Trophy come June.
In NBA.com’s annual preseason survey of general managers, 70 percent picked the Heat to successfully defend its championship. Last season, 74.1 percent of the league’s GMs predicted the Heat would win it all.
Still, the bar has been raised. The Lakers’ moves this summer shook the NBA just as the Heat’s haul in 2010 reverberated throughout the country. Howard’s long saga with the Orlando Magic ended as many first predicted, with Howard following Shaquille O’Neal’s footsteps and moving from Disney World to Hollywood.
“At the end of the day, I think we all knew,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
While Spoelstra and others around the league weren’t surprised when Howard ended up in Los Angeles, just about everyone was taken aback when former Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash also joined Los Angeles.
But pencil the Lakers into the Finals at your own risk. The defending Western Conference champion Oklahoma City Thunder, which played the Heat better in the Finals than a five-game series would indicate, is one year older and deeper coming off the bench than perhaps any other team in the league, especially the Lakers.
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