Best record in the NBA? The Miami have got it. Best player in the NBA? LeBron James is playing for the NBA champions, and seems to be getting better every year and each season. So why shouldn’t the current title holders repeat in 2013? Because they’re too good in the regular season, always a sign for bad things to come when we’re talking about the Heat.
For the fourth time in NBA history, the Heat are finishing a season with a winning record that’s better than 70%. The glitch in the title-winning machine? Their previous two titles came when they were a tad less successful.
The first time the Heat won the NBA title was in the 2005-2006 season, with Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal leading the way. The Heat finished with a 52-30 record, good enough for second in the East with a 63.4% success rate. In the playoffs, they beat the Chicago Bulls, New Jersey Nets, Detroit Pistons and finally the Dallas Mavericks to win the first NBA title in franchise history.
The second title came in 2012, a shortened 66-game season, with the Heat finishing second in the conference once again after posting a 46-20 record, winning 69.7%. Only 0.3, but sometimes that makes all the difference. They beat the New York Knicks, Indiana Pacers, Boston Celtics and eventually the Oklahoma City Thunder to claim their second NBA title, and the first for LeBron James and Chris Bosh.
The unsuccessful examples? The Heat’s first season of winning more than 70% of their games came in 1996-1997, shortly after the Pat Riley revolution. They won 61 games that season, a franchise record until this year, 74.4% of their games. The ending? After beating the Orlando Magic and the New York Knicks in a brutal series, they lost to the Chicago Bulls in 5 games at the conference finals.
Failure number 2? The 2004-2005 season, Shaquille O’Neal on his first year in South Beach. The Heat finish the season with a 59-23 record, 72%, the best in the East. After sweeping both the Nets and the Wizards, they lose in seven games to the Detroit Pistons.
Failure number 3? The 2010-2011 season, the beginning of the Big Three era. The Heat finish second in the East despite winning 70.7% of their games (58-24). In the playoffs they beat the Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics and the Chicago Bulls, losing once in each series. In the finals against the Dallas Mavericks, despite taking a 1-0 and 2-1 lead, they lose in the end 4-2.
Is this a serious reason to not win an NBA title? Nope. But the Baltimore Ravens did what every other team that played against the Philadelphia Eagles – won the Super Bowl, even though it doesn’t make sense. The New England Patriots lost to teams with birds on their logos. That didn’t make sense either. Sometimes, a humanistic reason makes more sense than the most important of stats.