The 2013 NBA Finals is down to a best two-out-of-three series beginning on Sunday in San Antonio. There is a lot riding on these three games.
Obvious the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat are playing for this year's championship. But, for these two teams, there is even more at stake. For the winner of this series, there will be the inevitable comparisons to the great NBA dynasties such as the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics and Detroit Pistons, the 1990s Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets, the early 2000s Lakers and the late 2000s Lakers.
The Heat players this year are trying to win their second straight NBA championship, after having already won their third consecutive Eastern Conference Championship. A win in this series would give them their third NBA championship since 2006. Should the Spurs win, it would be their fifth NBA championship since 1999, and they would be a perfect 5-0 in NBA Finals.
Both of these teams are flawed when compared to the aforementioned teams. The Spurs biggest question mark would be their failure to successfully defend a championship. All of these other teams have won at least two championships in a row.
But the Spurs would have won five titles in a 15-year stretch with the same head coach in Gregg Popovich and same star player in Tim Duncan. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli will have been there for four title runs as well. So is going back to back really that important? The Spurs did have a five-year run where they won three championships (2003-2007). That was certainly a dominant run.
The Heat will have their back-to-back if they can win. They will also have three in the last eight years, all with Dwayne Wade. But, the argument would be that these last two years they were Lebron James' team, and therefore the 2006 team should stand alone.
Should the Heat win it all this year, many will still want to see them win another simply because when James and Chris Bosh joined the Heat, they came out and made their bold prediction of "not one...not two...not three..." world titles. They put themselves in a position that if they only get two, they might be viewed as a disappointment.
Wade is slowing down as he is now in his 30s and Bosh is a 6'11" finesse player which makes the Heat vulnerable to teams with physical big men. Even if they win this year, winning that third title in a row could prove to be difficult. Even if the Heat wins, there will be a feeling around the league that next season they can be taken down. The Indiana Pacers took them to seven games in this year's Eastern Conference Finals. The top contenders will not be intimidated.
But, whether they can win three in a row, once they get this year's they have to join the conversation with teams such as the Pistons, who won three straight Eastern Conference titles and two straight NBA titles between 1988 and 1990. If the Spurs win, they should be compared to the Bulls who won six between 1991 and 1998 and the Lakers who won five between 1980 and 1988.
Either way, the winner of this series will win more than just one championship.