Josh Robbins

Orlando Sentinel

The Heat should be considered the favorite if there is a 2011-12 season.

Give the Mavericks credit. The best team won this year. The Mavs played sound defense and hit shots under pressure. They deserved to win.

But let's remember the Mavs needed otherworldly play from Dirk Nowitzki and extraordinary 3-point shooting to wrest the series from Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and the Heat.

I still think the Heat are the class of the East — unless the Celtics add quality youth, the Bulls add a complement to Derrick Rose or the Magic give Dwight Howard a go-to scorer.

In the West, the Thunder may reach the Finals but probably need another year of experience to win the title.

The only thing fans should be asking is whether there even will be a season.

jbrobbins@tribune.com

Last call for Celtics

Ira Winderman

Sun Sentinel

The Celtics, because they know it will be their final opportunity.

Yes, there is nothing in the middle right now, what with the midseason trade of Kendrick Perkins and the offseason retirement of Shaquille O'Neal.

But we're still talking Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo and Glen Davis. And Danny Ainge, even with his misstep with Perkins, has had a knack for delivering what is needed.

Doc Rivers easily could have stepped aside. Don't for a second think he came back for anything short of a championship.

Ownership knows that. Ainge knows that. Ray Allen clearly knew that when he picked up his option for 2011-12.

This arguably remains the most complete team in the East.

iwinderman@tribune.com