But for other Eastern Conference teams, the Heat have served as motivation. Most opponents recognized that there was work to be done to get on Miami's level. And that's what their offseason was all about.
While the Heat benefited from Ray Allen's decision to return and the re-signing of Chris Andersen, other East playoff teams of last season looked outside their own roster to boost their championship hopes.
The New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers looked for complementary pieces, the Chicago Bulls are banking on a former MVP's return, and the Brooklyn Nets spared no cost in completely making over their roster.
So which teams will pose the biggest threats to LeBron James and the champion Miami Heat? View the list to get a breakdown of the top Eastern Conference threats.