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Are the Miami Heat Still Favorites to Win NBA Title?

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 21:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat looks on against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Five of the 2012 NBA Finals on June 21, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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Peter EmerickSenior Writer IIJanuary 23, 2013

Let's get one thing straight. The Miami Heat aren't a pushover.

While detractors like to point at their rebounding woes and lack of size in the paint, there's no debating the fact that as of Jan. 23, they are sitting atop the Eastern Conference with a 26-12 overall record.

With that being said, there is certainly reason for concern for the mighty Heatles.

With two blowout losses to the New York Knicks and losses to the cream of the crop in the Western Conference—the Memphis Grizzlies, Golden State Warriors and the L.A. Clippers—it's hard to call the Heat a "favorite."

But when you consider that the Heat won the title last year minus Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis and now Chris Andersen, it's hard to count the Heat out—even with losses against the best of the best.

The short answer on whether the Heat are the favorites to win the 2013 NBA Title is no. The long answer is that at this point in the season, there is no real favorite for the NBA title because no one turns the afterburners on until the playoffs start.

It's hard to evaluate the Heat even with their losses against top competition, because every team wants to take the Heat down.

Sure, you could argue that there aren't any NBA teams that don't want to beat their opponent, but let's be real, everyone puts a little more energy into dethroning the mighty Heat.

Getting up for games against teams that are amped up to play you is certainly something the Heat struggle with, as is playing down to their competition. But those things will change when the playoffs roll around, just like they did last season.

The playoffs are an entirely different monster than the regular season, and that's why it's hard to select a favorite right now for the NBA title.

If we would've picked one before the season began, the L.A. Lakers would've surely been in the mix. But look at them now. They are struggling to even beat each other in practice. Heck, beating the Washington Generals would be a stretch right now.

The point is the Heat are not the favorite to hoist the 2013 Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy, but it's not because they aren't capable of winning it all this season.

It's because there is no real favorite to win the title yet, it's just too early.

There are eight teams—the Miami Heat, New York Knicks, Indiana Pacers, Chicago Bulls, Memphis Grizzlies, L.A. Clippers, San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder—that are all legitimate contenders for the crown.

Trying to pick a favorite between those eight teams is hard enough. When you throw in wild cards like the Brooklyn Nets, Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets, the picture gets even muddier.

The only certainty right now regarding the NBA title is that someone is going to hoist it at the end of the season.

The Miami Heat certainly don't have a clear path at repeating as NBA champions, thanks to the interior presence of the Knicks, Grizzlies and Clippers. But that doesn't mean it's impossible.

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