ESPN's John Hollinger thinks they're in bigger trouble than almost anyone else does: That's the beginning of the article--the full thing is only available to ESPN Insiders. I'll quote a bit more from it below. Also note that the Heat are 4-7 at the time I'm posting this; they've been blown out on the road by the Hornets and the Spurs since Hollinger's article was posted. Hollinger points out that the Heat have already been blown out three times at home, "including a 24-point pounding by the Knicks that will provide about 75 percent of the material for New York's postseason highlight video." They're last in the league both in scoring and in point differential. Hollinger slams Riles for not making any moves in the off-season: All that plus Shaq's fat-a*$ quite possibly getting even fatter while he sits out with his injury. Hollinger also talks about how Riles doesn't have any other options besides what he's doing, which is "going ugly," slowing the pace down, packing the lane, and hoping that the other team misses enough of their jumpers to allow the Heat to steal their wins late. He points out that they won in Atlanta last week only because the Hawks went 3-24 on threes, with most of them being wide-open. He ends the article by saying: It's hard for me to reach that extreme a conclusion. Their roster does seem to be terrible all of a sudden, but can they really go from winning it all one season to missing the playoffs (in a weak conference, no less) with the exact same bunch of guys? And while Shaq's absence is obviously a big concern for them, he missed 23 games last season as well, but they still finished second in the East at 52-30. Looking over the history of league champions and their performance in the next season, there have been only two instances when the defending champ actually missed the playoffs the next year: the '99 Bulls and the '70 Celtics. We all remember what had happened with that Bulls roster, and the Celtics that year were in the first season of the post-Bill Russell era. So for a defending champ to bring everyone back and miss the playoffs is literally unprecedented. That's largely why I don't think it's going to happen. But, Hollinger makes a good case for why it might. Let's hope his crystal ball is accurate! For the contrary view, acknowledging some of the same numbers but still concluding that the Heat are the favorites in the East, see this from Ian Thomsen of CNNSI.