So the 2013 NBA Finals are now over, with the Miami Heat repeating as the NBA Champions. After having a regular season record of 66 wins and only 16 losses, and making it look easy with a 27 game winning streak, they overcame much adversity in the playoffs to be crowned the victor’s for the second year in a row. After sweeping the bucks in the first round, it only got more difficult for Miami. After going 5 games to the banged up Chicago Bulls, they faced a very tough challenge in the young and gifted Indiana Pacers, going a full 7 games in the series. In the meantime, the Spurs swept the Grizzlies, and the seasoned vets on San Antonio were resting, waiting, and game planning on who their next opponent was going to be in the Finals. Many thought due to the long series’ that Miami had faced, that it would be an easy one for the Spurs. But not so fast! After an exciting game 1 of the Finals, the Spurs pulled out the win on the road. In game 2, Miami blew out the Spurs in South Beach with an easy victory. In game 3, the Spurs retaliated with a blow out of their own, for their Finals home debut in San Antonio. This was just the beginning of the back and forth victories in the series, as the Heat win game 4 on the road. The Spurs take their final home game in the series in game 5, and game 6 failed to disappoint as a large lead for San Antonio had Miami fans hitting the exits, turned into a tie at the end of 4 quarters, and forced overtime, where the Heat win it by 3 to stay alive and push a game 7. In game 7, the Spurs jumped out to an early 7 point lead, and it stopped there. Despite a solid series by Tim Duncan, and Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James and Shane Battier caught fire in game 7, and took over. Although it was 2 or 3 point’s that separated these two teams for the majority of the game, the Heat pulled away at the end of the 4th, when exhaustion set in for the seasoned vets in San Antonio. As one of the best Finals as of late came to an end, and Miami repeats, you can’t help but ask if Miami has it in them for a 3-peat.
There have only been 4 teams who have pulled off the 3-peat in NBA history. The Minneapolis Lakers (that’s not a typo, that’s how far back we are taking these stats) did it first in 1952, 53 and 54. The Celtic’s in 1959, 60, and 61 on their way to a record setting 8-peat. The Bulls have accomplished this feat 2 separate times in 1991, 92 and 93, and as well in 1996, 97 and 98. The most recent team to do this is the Los Angeles Lakers in 200, 01 and 02. So in over 6 decades, the 3-peat has only been accomplished 5 times. There are many factors that make this hard, most of which being free agency, not only for players, but for coaches as well. Injuries, age, and retirement also play a huge factor. There are also up and coming teams trying harder and harder to get better every year, hunting the target on the back of the reigning champions. With the exception of Dwayne Wade, age isn’t much of an issue for the Heat. All of their starters are fairly young, and can play a lot of minutes of each game without a problem, and they have done a good job of avoiding injury. Wade is still an elite player, and still has a lot left in the tank, but this year’s playoff’s showed his age. As far as free agency goes for Miami, the big 3, Wade, James and Bosh, are locked up in Miami until the end of 2015-2016 season, as well as Mario Chalmers. Other key members that have 1 year left on their contract include Battier, Ray Allen, and their coach, Erik Spoelstra. Mike Miller, who hit a clutch 3 in game 6 with only one shoe on, will still be with the team as well through the 2014-2015 season. The only major unrestricted free agent as of now is Chris “Birdman” Anderson, who has been inconsistently productive.
In comparison to other teams, the Pacers only have D.J. Augustin as an unrestricted free agent, the Bulls only really have to worry about Nate Robinson being a free agent, but Derrick Rose coming back from his ACL injury negates that, The Thunder have to worry about Kevin Martin and Ronnie brewer, and the Spurs only have Manu Ginobli to worry about in free agency. But the way his production has been dropping, he may not even be that much of a worry for most fans.
So as it stands now, the Miami Heat are on the road to a 3-peat. However, it is going to be a tough, rugged, hard fought road to make it there. It is a standard in professional sports to only get better year after year. Some teams and players meet this standard, some fall short. Teams such as the Thunder, the Pacers, and the Bulls who have been knocking on the door loudly the past few years, will have to do a little better to stop Miami on their road to “destiny” as referred to by some, and only time will tell if Miami can pull out the ever-so-difficult 3-peat.