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Examining possible first-round opponents for LeBron and the Heat

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Prior to the NBA season, it was believed that the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers would duke it out all year for the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed.

With 10 games left, that's a fight that rages on. LeBron James and the Heat trail the Pacers by 1.5 games for the top spot. Indiana certainly helped its cause with an 84-83 victory over Miami on Wednesday, but the teams still have one matchup left.

Nonetheless, the Heat seem to be locking in on a handful of possible first-round opponents who appear headed for the 7th or 8th seed in the East.

For a breakdown of the Heat's potential foes, view the list.

No. 6 Washington Wizards
No. 6 Washington Wizards Rob Carr/Getty Images

No. 6 Washington Wizards

You may remember the classic battles between LeBron James and the Washington Wizards when James was a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Times have changed, but the Wizards are back in the playoffs. Washington holds a three-game lead for the 6th seed, but should they slip up down the stretch, a matchup with James could be looming. Miami has taken two of three meetings this season, with LeBron scoring a modest 24.3 points per game in those contests.

No. 7 Charlotte Bobcats
No. 7 Charlotte Bobcats Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

No. 7 Charlotte Bobcats

The Bobcats are primed for their first playoff appearance in franchise history. Charlotte, led by Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson, currently holds a 3.5-game lead for the 7th seed. Unfortunately, the Bobcats haven't figured how to beat Miami, losing all four meetings to the Heat this year. LeBron has been especially rough on the Bobcats, pouring in 37.8 points per game against Charlotte, including his season-high of 61 on Mar. 3.

No. 8 Atlanta Hawks
No. 8 Atlanta Hawks Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

No. 8 Atlanta Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks are currently scheduled to face the Pacers in the first round, but if Miami is able to leapfrog Indiana, a Heat-Hawks series would occur. At 31-41, the Hawks aren't an imposing playoff contender, but they do boast a solid defender for James in DeMarre Carroll. Atlanta can also hang its hat on a victory over Miami on Jan. 20.

No. 9 New York Knicks
No. 9 New York Knicks Rich Schultz/Getty Images

No. 9 New York Knicks

The Knicks have work to do if they want to make the playoffs as they trail Atlanta by 1.5 games for the final postseason berth. The potential for a Carmelo Anthony vs. LeBron James battle will always attract attention, but it's been LeBron who has had the upper-hand this season. James has scored at least 30 points in all three meetings with New York, two resulting in Miami victories.

No. 10 Cleveland Cavaliers
No. 10 Cleveland Cavaliers Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

No. 10 Cleveland Cavaliers

Lurking as a long-shot, the potential for a LeBron James return to Cleveland in the first round certainly has its intrigue. The Cavaliers are currently three games outside of the playoffs. Miami swept all three games with Cleveland this year, as LeBron took it to his former team with 32.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and 7.0 assists on 64 percent shooting.


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