Conventional wisdom says that Toronto has the best chance of beating Cleveland in the Eastern Conference playoffs. After all, the Raptors are the 2-seed, they won 56 games – the fourth-most in basketball – and they finished just one game behind the Cavs (57-25) for home-court advantage in the East.
Ian Eagle, however, doesn’t think Toronto is Cleveland’s biggest threat. Instead, he thinks it’s LeBron James’ old team, the team with which he played in four NBA Finals and won back-to-back NBA championships.
“I think Miami is the most intriguing of the bunch – just because they changed their style of play, they reinvented themselves after the Chris Bosh physical issue, Justin Johnson has absolutely provided them with a lift, and I do think they can score in the half-court,” the CBS play-by-play broadcaster said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “That’s a team that I look at in the Eastern Conference. They’ll still be able to generate offense. Now, can they do it over the long haul? That’s a much deeper issue. But I like this Miami team.”
Miami (48-33), which plays Charlotte in the first round of the playoffs, finished 23rd in the league in scoring but fifth in defense. The Heat started 23-21, lost Chris Bosh soon afterward, but went 25-13 down the stretch to nab the 3-seed in the East.
“I think Erik Spoelstra has done a fantastic job,” Eagle said. “Not just with this year’s squad, but now as you look back – as you see now difficult it is for these head coaches to manage egos, to juggle all of the different kinds of personalities that come with coaching superstars – you got to give a lot of credit to Spoelstra for what he did with the Big Three and all the success that he squeezed out of those teams in consecutive years. So Miami is the one that’s probably caught my attention more than anybody else in the East.”
The Heat host the Hornets (48-34) in Game 1 on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. ET.