Blueprint for Miami Heat to Be Best NBA Playoff Team Ever

Brendan BowersContributor IIApril 30, 2013

Miami Heat's LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh
Miami Heat's LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris BoshMike Ehrmann/Getty Images

For the Miami Heat to qualify as the best playoff team ever in 2013, they need to win the NBA championship to cap off the most dominating postseason run of all time.

After sweeping the Milwaukee Bucks in the opening round, winning the four games by an average margin of 14.8 points, the Heat have put themselves in a position to accomplish specifically this.

Beginning with a conference semifinals matchup against either the Chicago Bulls or Brooklyn Nets, the Heat will be challenged significantly more than they were by the No. 8-seeded Bucks.

The health of Dwyane Wade throughout the postseason—who was not in the lineup for Game 4 against Milwaukee and is listed as day-to-day, according to Jeff Zillgitt of the USA Today—will certainly be critical for Miami moving forward. 

But if the Heat are able to translate their dominance thus far into a 16-1 postseason run, they would have surpassed the all-time best winning percentage previously set by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2001.

From there, if Miami is also able to sweep the NBA Finals while posting an average scoring margin of at least plus-10 points, this year's Heat would qualify as the best playoff team in league history.


Set an NBA playoffs record for team winning percentage in 2013

According to Sports Illustrated, the two best postseason winning percentages in league history belong to the 2000-01 Los Angeles Lakers and the 1982-83 Philadelphia 76ers

Each team, as highlighted by the chart above, lost only one time on its way to winning an NBA championship. While playing fewer games than the Miami Heat will be required to play in 2013, the Lakers and 76ers posted a winning percentage of .938 and .923 respectively. 

If the Heat went 12-1 to complete this year's playoff run, they would post a winning percentage of .941, which would qualify as the best ever.


Sweep the NBA Finals

The '00-01 Lakers lost Game 1 of the NBA Finals to Allen Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers in overtime before winning the next four games.

Moses Malone and the '82-83 Sixers, however, swept the Los Angeles Lakers in their finals matchup.

Besides those 76ers, seven other NBA teams dating back to 1946-47 have swept the NBA Finals. 

For the Heat to solidify their case as the best playoff team ever, they would need to do the same.


Accumulate a plus-10 average scoring margin throughout the postseason

In an analysis originally published by John Hollinger of in 2009, Hollinger ranked the top 10 NBA Finals teams in league history by using a metric that combined regular season and postseason production.

The 1996 Chicago Bulls graded out as the best team overall on his list, due in part to a 72-10 record in the regular season. 

Also highlighted on this list were the average scoring margins for those playoff teams he considered among the best ever.

The '96 Bulls, despite losing three games in the postseason, were a plus-10.6 points in the playoffs. The 1987 Los Angeles Lakers, for additional perspective, were a plus-11.4, while the 1986 Boston Celtics were a plus-10.3.

For the 2013 Heat to be considered a decisively better playoff team than all those before them, they would also need to post a plus-10 points per game scoring margin throughout the postseason.

Thus far, as highlighted by the graphic above, the Heat are winning by an average score of 100.0-85.2.


Feature two starters scoring in double figures while shooting 50 percent throughout postseason

Statistics will never completely answer the question of which team would win between Shaquille O'Neal's Lakers, Jordan's Bulls, Bird's Celtics, Malone's Sixers, this year's Heat or anybody else.

When pairing that hypothetical matchup across eras, it ultimately becomes a discussion of one matchup against the next.

In this debate, the Heat would help themselves by finishing the postseason with at least two players averaging double figures while shooting 50 percent from the field.

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all accomplished this during the regular season. Thus far during the playoffs, James is scoring 24.5 points while shooting 62.7 percent and Bosh is scoring 12.8 points on 53.8 percent.