The 6 teams with a chance to win the NBA title

It’s a widely believed theory that most fans typically don’t pay

much attention to the NBA until the much-hyped broadcast games on

Christmas Day arrive.

Hey, welcome to NBA season, everyone!

Christmas has come and gone, so the season is ”really” here

now. And that means no better time than the present to skip the

remaining 55 or so games everyone has and take a look at the six

teams that will figure to have the best chance of winning the 2014

NBA title, at least the way things are looking now:

MIAMI HEAT: Yes, the Heat are still looking up at Indiana in the

East standings. But really, is anyone else in the East going to

beat them four times in a seven-game series? Barring major injury

issues, that’s not going to happen. Playing for a third straight

title will become a huge motivator, as will the chance to reach the

NBA Finals for the fourth straight year. LeBron James is still at

MVP pace, Dwyane Wade is healthy and the Heat simply know how to

win it all.

PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS: The good surprise in the NBA so far this

season, though when one studies what the Blazers are doing so far,

it doesn’t seem like a surprise at all. They have the legit big man

in LaMarcus Aldridge, surrounded him with shooters like Damian

Lillard and Wesley Matthews, and are getting outstanding numbers

from Robin Lopez. The Blazers are 15-0 when making 38 percent or

better from 3-point range.

INDIANA PACERS: They’re big, they’re tough, they have swagger

and they really don’t like the Miami Heat. Paul George is playing

like that big offseason contract was an absolute bargain. The

Pacers play defense as well as anyone out there and getting Danny

Granger back is a total bonus. For the Pacers to take that next

step, Roy Hibbert will likely be the make-or-break piece. If he

dominates, well, good luck, NBA.

SAN ANTONIO SPURS: Yes, they looked dreadful at times against

Houston on Christmas night, but games in December and games in the

postseason are simply different. Tim Duncan is as hard to guard

1-on-1 as anyone, Tony Parker remains one of the elite players on

the planet, and the Spurs get more from the bench than any NBA club

does.

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER: What the Thunder has done so far this

season seems quiet, almost. Maybe it’s because it’s just expected

by now for Kevin Durant and his mates to be great. They’re off to a

23-5 start and that’s with Russell Westbrook shooting only 42

percent. And Durant remains the model of consistency. His scoring

and rebounding averages, last four seasons including this one:

27.7-6.8, 28.0-8.0, 28.1-7.9, and 28.1-8.0.

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS: Houston merited consideration for this

spot, but Chris Paul is just playing too well right now. He’s

averaging 19 points and 11 assists, but what often goes unnoticed

is what he does on the defensive end. Games slow down in the

playoffs. Defense becomes more of a priority. And when the Clippers

hold teams under 100, they’re 12-2. That might go a long way come

playoff time.