The International Blogtable: Who Can Beat the Heat?


Every week, the International Blogtable brings together some of the best basketball minds from around the world, posing a burning question to writers and editors from the NBA's fleet of international web destinations. It's a BIG world, after all.
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Letís assume that the Heat are the best team in the league. Pick another team, either conference: Whoís second-best?
Pawel Weszka
Editor, NBA Africa

Memphis Grizzlies. One of the best defensive teams in the NBA lost only two more games than San Antonio and four more games than Oklahoma City in the regular season. Now, they are on the verge of eliminating the Thunder and advancing to the Western Conference Finals. They are well-organized and formidable defensively, with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph dominating the paint and Mike Conley doing a great job running their offense. Coming back from a 17-point deficit in Game 4 against Oklahoma City they proved a dangerous team over a 48-minute stretch. They may not have as much depth as Miami and would need to be at their best against San Antonio or Golden State should they advance further, but if they can keep their roster healthy, they will look forward to making a surprise or two as the Playoffs continue.
Adriano Albuquerque
Blogger, NBA Brasil

The Memphis Grizzlies. Since the Detroit Pistons of 2003-04 and 2004-05, no one has played this well on defense as the Grizzlies. The trade that sent Rudy Gay to Toronto and brought Tayshaun Prince in created a direct connection to that team, but also made a symbolic connection: just like those Pistons, everyone has a role, and everyone is locked in. They aren't explosive or athletic, but they just take you back to the basics of basketball: rebounding, ball movement, not turning the ball over. They're equipped to beat anyone - even Miami.
Hanson Guan
Editor, NBA China

The Grizzlies, definitely. Some see parallels between the Grizzlies and that 2004 Pistons team (and the common link of Tayshaun Prince helps). They are a chain without a weak link, their tactics are working well and the atmosphere in the locker room is perfect. As opposed to those Pistons, the Grizzlies rely on post players, but Conley has been showing a big heart as the playoffs have unfolded. If Memphis elbows its way to The Finals, the Grizz would be a great threat to Heat. They may even emerge the dark horse to replicate the unlikely feat of the Pistons, who, in 2004, came out on top at the expense of the Lakers.
Philipp Dornhegge

Right now, Iím actually torn between the Pacers and the Grizzlies. Thereís no doubt in my mind that you have to have an elite defense in order to be second-best (and to possibly challenge the Heat), and Memphisí and Indianaís D is about as elite as it gets. Both have outstanding team chemistry as well as superb individual defenders that are totally committed to the teamís concept. Granted, both teams sometimes have trouble scoring and lack a superstar. But make no mistake: They both have shot-makers and guys that donít mind pressure situations. With Conley, Randolph and Gasol, Memphis probably has a little more of that than the Pacers, so if I have to decide Iíll pick the Grizzlies.
Eduardo Schell
Editor, NBA EspaŮa

Miami is not the best team, in my opinion. They have maybe the best one-two punch in the game with, with LeBron and D-Wade, while CB makes a great Big Three, but I would pick San Antonio or even Denver (before all the Injuries) as the best team. They both truly work as a big unit and are very, very well coached.
Stefanos Triantafyllos
Editor, NBA Greece

No room for surprises in this one. The Pacers are playing like the best team right now, but is this truly what the question is all about? The Heat are the bullies of the NBA ó the team with the MVP, the defending champions, the squad that everyone is afraid of. But if opponentsí fear is the one way to measure how good a team is, the other one is respect. And the prize for that one goes, without saying, to the San Antonio Spurs, the old dogs that tend to learn new tricks every now and then. They are at the edge of eliminating the ďyoung gunsĒ of the West and are ready to put all that experience-armor on for The Finals. No, I cannot avoid quoting the most important words that came out of a basketball coach in the last 20 years. As Rudy Tomjanovich once said: ďDonít EVER underestimate the heart of a champion.Ē And the Big-Three have won three in the post-David Robinson era.
Akshay Manwani
Blogger, NBA India

Itís between the Spurs, the Pacers and Memphis ó teams that are ahead in their series at this stage. A look at NBA.comís advanced stats for teams in the postseason also puts these three teams among the top five in the Net Rating category, with Miami at No. 1. However, while San Antonio comes in at No. 2 here, with a net rating of 10.3, owing to a couple of blowout games against the Lakers, Iíll go with Memphis as the next best team in the league. They have the NBAís reigning Defensive Player of the year in Gasol, two players among the top 10 in the postseason scoring category and Gasol and Z-Bo and get to the free throw line more than any other team. Memphis is also a younger and a more physical team than the Spurs and since they donít have to play the Heat in the next round (unlike Indiana), they are most likely to represent the West in The Finals.
Davide Chinellato
Editor, NBA Italia

I would say the Thunder if they still had both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Right now my second-best team behind the Heat would be the Grizzlies: awesome defense (three players in the All-Defensive First and Second teams), the best big man combo in the league (Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol are both playing the best basketball of their careers) and a point guard, in Mike Conley, who's proving he's an elite player.
SelÁuk Aytekin
Editor, NBA Turkiye

The Grizzlies. When Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph play together, they're an awful tough team to beat. The Grizzlies have developed into a dominant and reliable team this year and have knocked off a lot of powerful teams already. Outside the paint, Tony Allen could be the best perimeter defender in the NBA, and point guard Mike Conley is right there as well.