Comparing Every Conference Finalist to a Former NBA Championship Team
Just four teams remain from the sixteen that made the postseason over a month ago.
Only one is going to be happy with how their season concludes. Everyone is more than welcome to argue, debate and dissect the match-ups in an attempt to figure out which one of the remaining four franchises will eventually end up as champs.
The one thing we all know for sure? One of the four teams, the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder will be NBA Champs when the dust clears.
Once they win they'll be compared to other champs of the past. So why not get a head start? Why not try and have some fun drawing parallels between all four conference finalists and some of the NBA's past champs?
Miami Heat- 1991 Chicago Bulls
A team centered on the athletic ability and complimentary pairing of a supremely talented duo. A third key part made up of a power forward with a reputation for being at times soft. A supporting cast of either unproven young players or past-their prime aging ones.
No one is saying that James and Wade are in the same class as Jordan and Pippen. Here's where there is common ground.
Jordan and Pippen were the most talented shooting guard-small forward combination of their era. James and Wade are as well. Jordan and Pippen were both extremely talented defensive players. Wade and Jordan might not have a ring yet, but they're very good defenders.
Horace Grant never got the type of attention (or paycheck) that Chris Bosh has experienced. That doesn't change the fact that Grant could have put up better numbers on a different team. Bosh already did put up better numbers on a different team. Bosh's production has fallen off since joining the Heat.
However, it's easy to say the Wade and James haven't won anything as a duo while Jordan and Pippen won six rings in the 1990s.
That's why I included a specific year. In 1991, it wasn't hard to find people who doubted Jordan and Pippen because they hadn't won anything yet. They put those doubts to rest when they beat the Lakers in the 1991 Finals.
That doesn't mean that the Heat are going to win the Finals this season but if they do it won't be a total shock to me.
Boston Celtics- 1973 New York Knicks
Teams that rank near the bottom of the league in both scoring and rebounding don't win a lot of NBA Titles.
That's not to say that they can't win a title every now and then.
The 1973 New York Knicks were second-to-last in the league in rebounding and were also below the league average in scoring.
Yet their fantastic on-court chemistry and evenly distributed scoring attack would eventually lead to the Knicks beating the star-studded Los Angeles Lakers 4-1 in the NBA Finals.
The Knicks were a team with tough players. They didn't put up great numbers as a team, except when it came to wins. Just like the current Celtics, the 1973 Knicks didn't allow their opponents to score many points. They may not have put up a ton of points themselves and the Knicks, just like today's Celtics were not so great at rebounding but when the chips were down the team responded.
Oklahoma City Thunder- 1988 Los Angeles Lakers
Three dynamic players? Check.
A highly entertaining, high scoring, highlight film-creating offense? Check again.
Seemingly vulnerable on defense? Yes, they've got that covered as well.
The 1988 Los Angeles Lakers are far from identical to the current Oklahoma City Thunder, but they're not a bad comparison.
The Lakers were right near the top of the NBA in offense in the 1987-1988 season. They were just middle-of-the-pack on defense, another trait they share with the Thunder.
The 1988 Lakers had two future Hall of Famer at small forward and point guard, James Worthy and Magic Johnson. The Thunder, of course, counter with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
The third key cog on offense for the 1988 Lakers was the team's leading scorer that season, Byron Scott. For Oklahoma City, it's James Harden who can key high scoring runs with his blazing speed and ability to score in numerous ways.
Since George Gervin never played alongside Isiah Thomas it's tough to draw a direct comparison between the current Thunder and a past champion. The 1988 Lakers will have to suffice.
San Antonio Spurs- 2006 Miami Heat
The 2006 Miami Heat had a once dominant big man patrolling the low post, a younger guard running the team and a deep bench made up of reliable veterans.
Sound familiar Spurs fans? It should. The current Spurs have all of those ingredients. Even if you're not thrilled with a comparison to a team made up of Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade it's worth noting two key things.
1. Shaquille O'Neal is a first ballot Hall of Famer.
2. The 2006 Heat won it all and beat Dallas to do it as well.
Don't forget the importance of the benches either. This year's Spurs feature guys like Manu Ginobili and Stephen Jackson. The 2006 Heat had names like Alonzo Mourning, Antoine Walker and Gary Payton.
Then there's the defense. Both the current Spurs and the 2006 Heat were middle-of-the-pack defensively during the regular season. Once playoff time rolled around that changed. Both teams raised their level of play and for the Heat that would end up winning them a title.
The Spurs have yet to lose in the playoffs so there's plenty of reason for optimism.