5 Steps for Miami Heat to Repeat as NBA Champs
Five teams (excluding the three-peat) in the past 20 years have successfully repeated, the 1991-92 Chicago Bulls, 1994-95 Houston Rockets, the 1996-97 Bulls, the 2000-01 Los Angeles Lakers and the 2009-10 Lakers.
Let's take a look at what those five teams did so well and see if the Heat have what it takes to win back-to-back titles.
They Need to Get off to a Fast Start
If the Heat are going to repeat, they need to make a statement early in the season. They need to let everyone in the NBA know that they aren't complacent with one title, that their hunger for victory remains.
That's exactly what the five teams who've recently repeated did: the 1991-92 Bulls started 17-3, the 1994-95 Rockets started 9-0, the 1996-97 Bulls started 12-0, the 2000-01 Lakers started 11-4 and the 2009-10 Lakers also finished the first month of the season at a cool 17-3.
A reigning champion almost always receives an opponent's best effort, especially in the beginning of the season, as every other team in the NBA wants to knock the champs off their pedestal.
You have to be an extremely mentally tough team, one capable facing those circumstances, in order to repeat.
Considering the attention the Heat have received since the beginning of the Big Three Era, they should be more than prepared to make that statement.
LeBron Needs to Once Again Finish as a Top Scorer
Looking at past repeat champions, it's clear you need an elite scorer to hoist the Larry O'Brien trophy in consecutive years.
Michael Jordan (30.1 PPG in 1991-92 and 29.8 PPG in 1996-97), Hakeem Olajuwon (27.8 PPG in 1994-95), Shaquille O'Neal (28.7 PPG in 2000-01) and Kobe Bryant (27.0 PPG in 2009-10) all finished in the top five in scoring in their teams' successful quests to repeat.
So that's good news for the Heat, considering they have LeBron James, who has finished in the top five in scoring in each of the past eight seasons.
To repeat, you need to have that guy who's capable of scoring like LeBron did in Game 6 of this past year's Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics. You need someone who can single-handedly win you a playoff game.
LeBron will have the best supporting cast of his career this season, so it's possible he could start deferring a bit more. However, history tells us it's best for LeBron to keep on attacking.
They Need to Dominate at Home
The Heat finished tied with the best record at home with the San Antonio Spurs last season, and it would be a great sign for a repeat if that type of success continues in the 2012-13 season.
The 1991-92 Bulls (36-5), 1996-97 Bulls (39-2), 2000-01 Lakers (31-10) and 2009-2010 Lakers (34-7) were all among the league's best home teams in their respective seasons. And while the 1994-95 Rockets weren't elite, they were still solid at home (25-16).
Being able to win consistently at home is crucial, especially for teams like the aforementioned Bulls and Lakers squads, who were top seeds in the playoffs, as it means they'll have Game 7 on their home court should a series be extended to the limit.
With the Heat unlikely to face much competition in terms of earning the top seed in the East this season (and also considering how strong they were at home in 2011-12), Miami fans have to be optimistic.
They Need to Cut Down on the Turnovers
One of the few issues the 2011-12 Miami Heat dealt with was too many turnovers, as they finished 24th in the NBA in turnover percentage (turnovers per 100 plays).
That's a bit of a problem when you look at how careful with the ball teams that repeated have been. In their respective seasons, The 1991-92 Bulls finished second in turnover percentage, the 1994-95 Rockets finished 19th, the 1996-97 Bulls finished first, the 2000-01 Lakers finished sixth while the 2009-10 Lakers finished fifth.
The Heat are talented enough that they can get away with a few turnovers here and there, but it would certainly go a long way towards a repeat if players such as Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole were able to make it less of an issue.
They Need to Have an Elite Offense
In sports we are always told "defense wins championships"; however, the past tells us it's actually offense that brings repeats.
In their respective seasons, Jordan's Bulls finished first in offensive rating (points scored per 100 possessions) in both the 1991-92 season and 1996-97 season, Olajuwon's Rockets finished seventh, Kobe and Shaq's Lakers finished second and Kobe and Gasol's Lakers finished 11th.
The Heat's two biggest free-agent acquisitions this offseason, Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, were signed with the intent on improving the team's offense, which already finished at an elite level last year (seventh in offensive rating).
Considering that the Heat also have one of the league's best defenses (fourth in defensive rating in 2011-12), it's not looking good for any team with plans to dethrone them.
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