Well, that went as expected.
The Eastern Conference first round was full of mismatches, especially with Indiana missing Victor Oladipo, and so it should have surprised no one that all four series were slaughters, with the favorites taking 16 of 18 games.
It was also a stark reminder of how far the Miami Heat are from serious contention in the conference. They finished behind the Nets, Pistons and Magic, teams with just a couple of certifiable stars between them. The Heat can talk about injuries (and they were banged up than the Magic in particular, though not the Nets). But the reality is, they’re just not good enough — and with Dwyane Wade retiring, likely about to get worse.
This isn’t us saying it.
After the four top teams in the East easily advanced, we polled it at @5ReasonsSports.
It's unlikely, but….
Which of these teams do the Heat have the best chance of passing next season?
— Five Reasons Sports Network (@5ReasonsSports) April 24, 2019
At last count, the Raptors and Celtics were “leading” at about 33 percent each, followed by the 76ers, with the Bucks way behind — because they have Giannis.
But the most popular response was “none of the above.”
It’s hard to envision the Heat passing the Bucks anytime soon. The 76ers? Even if Jimmy Butler leaves, they still have Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons in their early 20s, and probably Tobias Harris. The Celtics may lose Kyrie Irving, but they are still stocked with assets.
The only real wild card is Toronto, considering they could lose Kawhi Leonard, likely to the Clippers.
But — and this is sad to say — if you’re betting Masai Ujiri vs. Pat Riley lately, you go with Ujiri.