NBA Playoffs 2013: Teams with Best Shot to Prevent Miami Heat Repeat
History favors multiple NBA champions more than lone title holders.
Chalk up even more clout for a team when it can achieve repeat championships. When looking back it’s hard to deny: The dominant squads in NBA history have won multiple titles and often accomplished that with back-to-back (or more) victories.
The various Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics championship teams come to mind as well as the Chicago Bulls of the 1990s and the San Antonio Spurs’ various title teams. San Antonio may have never won back-to-back titles, but they did win four in nine seasons.
After winning the championship in 2012, the Miami Heat are on the hunt to become back-to-back champs for the first time in franchise history.
Another ring would certainly validate LeBron James' and Chris Bosh’s decisions to play there. They have drawn both ire and awe from fans around the country after joining Dwyane Wade in Miami during the 2010 blockbuster summer of free agency.
The Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy isn’t nestled securely in South Beach just yet, though. There are a couple of teams who have a legitimate shot at knocking off the Heat.
Let’s take a look at who hast the best chance of doing just that.
New York Knicks
The New York Knicks won the season series against the Miami Heat 3-1. That's impressive considering that Miami lost just 16 games all season.
Tyson Chandler helped the Dallas Mavericks spoil James, Bosh and Wade’s celebration during their first NBA Finals appearance in 2011. Also along for the ride is 18-year-pro and former Mavs point guard Jason Kidd. Their veteran presence is the glue that holds this explosive Knicks squad together.
They aren’t the only reason New York is a legitimate concern for the Heat, though. The Knicks have a superstar of their own in Carmelo Anthony who is playing as good as anyone in the league right now. His ability to score will keep Miami honest at both ends of the floor.
If Miami can’t lock him down one-on-one, it will have to help with multiple defenders. That will, as it has all season, open things up for the sharp-shooting Knicks backcourt. New York hit an NBA record 847 three-pointers this past season. It was also fifth in efficiency from downtown, shooting 37.6 percent from beyond the arc.
Los Angeles Clippers
If any team is going to beat the Miami Heat it is going to take a complete performance up and down that group’s roster. Besides the Knicks, the deepest and most well-rounded roster of any playoff contender has to be the Los Angeles Clippers.
Chris Paul is leading the charge after averaging nearly a double-double this season (16.9 PPG, 9.7 APG). He has a great cast of support around him this time around, too. Paul has two dominant low-post players in Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Both are capable of controlling the paint in their own way, whether it be scoring at the rim or closing it down defensively.
That solid core is amplified by veterans like Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler, Lamar Odom and Jamal Crawford. All of these guys have been around the block and are hungry for their shot at a title (or another in some cases).
Oklahoma City Thunder
Kevin Durant said he is “tired of being second” in an interview with Lee Jenkins of SI.com (via Ben Golliver of SI.com). Could this be the year that he finally propels himself above that label?
The Oklahoma City Thunder were runners-up a season ago after the Heat cruised to an easy five-game series victory in 2012 NBA Finals. James Harden is gone following a preseason trade. He was the only Thunder player other than Durant and Russell Westbrook to average over 10 points per game during that disappointing loss last season.
However, both Westbrook and Durant are currently playing at a high level and are getting a lot of out of their supporting cast. For the Thunder, everything hinges on their two superstars' performance. Can they step it up when it matters most and get revenge for last season's letdown?
Kevin Martin, who was acquired in the Harden deal, is impressing off of the bench and could help boost the solid-shooting Thunder over the top this year.
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