NBA Power Rankings: Are the Miami Heat the league's hottest team?

The Miami Heat have been among the hottest teams in the league, but where do they stand among other contenders making their playoff push?

Boston Celtics v Miami Heat
Boston Celtics v Miami Heat / Megan Briggs/GettyImages
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1. Boston Celtics

Heat fans don’t want to hear this, but the Celtics are the NBA’s team to beat. There is no denying it when looking at the stats or watching the games.

The Celtics over these last 10 games are blitzing their opponents, outscoring them by 20.7 points per 100 possessions. That’s by far the top net rating over that stretch (Minnesota is second at plus-11.2).

They have statement wins over the Heat, Mavericks, Knicks and Warriors. Their Sunday route over the Warriors, in which they went into halftime up 82-38, was one of the most lopsided wins over a playoff team this season. And that was without Kristaps Porzingis.

Jayson Tatum has played at an All-NBA level (27.4 points on 50.3% shooting, 8.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists) over the last 10 games but not enough to warrant serious MVP buzz. But the Celtics are an ensemble cast and feature the best starting five in the league. They have by far the best net rating for the season and, when they are making their 3s, look borderline unstoppable.

The Celtics are the class of the East but that doesn’t mean they are impossible to beat. If the 3s don’t get in at a high enough clip, they become vulnerable. But to put them any lower than first would be to ignore their body of work this season.

If the Heat end up with the fourth or fifth seed, a meeting in the second round becomes possible. The Heat won’t be scared of the Celtics, and the Celtics would probably prefer to see anybody else.