Heat vs. History: Miami's Regular Season Compared to Legendary Teams
The Miami Heat squeaked out a 98-94 win against Philadelphia, extending their streak to 20 straight victories. This streak has been so impressive due to their dominating play and it looks like no one can stop them.
Their exciting style mixed with a team of superstars has us thinking about how the Heat compare to legendary squads of the past. Miami already has 14 losses so they cannot have one of the top four records of all-time, but how do they match up against those teams in all aspects of the game?
1995-96 Chicago Bulls
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In most people's eyes, the best team in NBA history is the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, when Michael Jordan led his squad to an all-time best 72-10 record and an NBA title. Jordan's 30.4 points per game helped the Bulls achieve the league's best 105.2 points a game. They also had the NBA's third-best defense, which led to a scoring margin of +12.3.
Chicago had a great field goal percentage in 47.8 percent, but it was still only seventh in the league. This is where the Heat have the upper hand. Miami leads the NBA in shooting with an average of 49.5 percent. However, the Heat don't win nearly as big as the Bulls did and aren't in the top of the league in very many categories. Jordan's Bulls were top-five in the NBA in 3-point percentage, rebounds, assists and steals.
1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers
Legendary Jerry West with Dwyane Wade
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Like most of the legendary teams of the past, the 1971-72 Lakers led the league in scoring with 121.0 points per game. A 33-year-old Jerry West, a 35-year-old Wilt Chamberlain and a 37-year-old Elgin Baylor helped the Lakers achieve a 69-13 record. Los Angeles was second in the league with 49 percent shooting which is just lower than the Heat this season.
The 1971-72 Lakers led the league in rebounds which is Miami's weakest link. These Lakers also led the league in assists compared to the Heat who rank 16th in the NBA. Back then, they didn't record all the statistics that we do now, but one area the Lakers excelled at was getting to the line. The Heat are in the middle of the league for free-throw attempts compared to the Lakers who were second best.
1996-97 Chicago Bulls
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Michael Jordan and his Bulls are on here yet again, a year after their record-setting season. For the second season in a row they led the league in scoring with 103.1 points per game with a scoring margin of +10.8. The Bulls ranked third in the league in shooting that season with a field goal percentage of 47.3, which is much lower than the Heat this season.
They weren't as prolific as they were in the previous season, but the Bulls still were second in the NBA in rebounds and assists. Miami is a better field goal, 3-point and foul shooting team than the Bulls were but Chicago was definitely better defensively and in rebounding.
1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers
An older Wilt Chamberlain
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In a season where Wilt Chamberlain averaged 24 points and 24 rebounds, the 1966-67 76ers posted history's fourth-best record by going 68-13. Philadelphia shot a league-high 48.3 percent, which, like the previous teams, is still lower than the efficient Miami Heat. When it comes to scoring offense, the Sixers dominate the Heat by scoring 125.2 points per game which was first in the NBA and 21.9 points more than the Heat. They also led the league in assists and had the third most rebounds.
When analyzing the great seasons these teams had, it is hard to say that the Heat are better than any of them. They shoot the ball at a higher percentage and only give up 95.9 points per game, but lack the high-scoring offense, rebounding ability and assist opportunities that these amazing teams had. The season is not over yet, but its hard to see them putting up numbers to match the season those squads were able to accomplish.