NBA Playoffs 2014: Miami Heat cruised to the NBA Finals, but they aren't historically unique

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The best teams win the most games, but sometimes it takes a little help to get to the NBA Finals.

The NBA Playoffs had a super exciting first round this season, however the latter rounds went much more according to presumed script. With the NBA Finals slated to start on Thursday, the 5th of June with the San Antonio Spurs going up against the Miami Heat we are once again treated to the two best teams in each conference going at it. (I do not recognize the Indiana Pacers are the best team in the East -- we all know the Heat were coasting.)

Some observers have griped about Miami's easy path to the NBA Finals. Sure, they didn't have to suffer through an 82 game season in the Western Conference, and cruised through lesser competition on the way to the Finals; but let's not forget that they went out there and got the job done. They won the games needed. And if you look at NBA History, they aren't the only team to either a) power their way to the Finals, or b) do it against fall-guy opponents.

IN FACT, Miami going to the NBA Finals with just three losses isn't even remotely remarkable, unless you expected a bit more from Al Jefferson, or the Toronto Raptors, or whatever.

Pre-NBA Finals Losses
Playoffs Team 1st Rnd. 2nd Rnd. Conf. Finals Total Losses
1 1987 Los Angeles Lakers Nuggets 0 Warriors 1 Supersonics 0 1
2 1989 Los Angeles Lakers Trail Blazers 0 Supersonics 0 Suns 0 0
3 1989 Detroit Pistons Celtics 0 Bucks 0 Bulls 2 2
4 1990 Detroit Pistons Pacers 0 Knicks 1 Bulls 3 4
5 1991 Chicago Bulls Knicks 0 76ers 1 Pistons 0 1
6 1991 Los Angeles Lakers Rockets 0 Warriors 1 Trail Blazers 2 3
7 1992 Portland Trail Blazers Lakers 1 Suns 1 Jazz 2 4
8 1993 Chicago Bulls Hawks 0 Cavaliers 0 Knicks 2 2
9 1996 Seattle Supersonics Kings 1 Rockets 0 Jazz 3 4
10 1996 Chicago Bulls Heat 0 Knicks 1 Magic 0 1
11 1997 Utah Jazz Clippers 0 Lakers 1 Rockets 2 3
12 1997 Chicago Bulls Bullets 0 Hawks 1 Heat 1 2
13 1998 Utah Jazz Rockets 2 Spurs 1 Lakers 0 3
14 1998 Chicago Bulls Nets 0 Hornets 1 Pacers 3 4
15 1999 San Antonio Spurs Timberwolves 1 Lakers 0 Trail Blazers 0 1
16 1999 New York Knicks Heat 2 Hawks 0 Pacers 2 4
17 2001 Los Angeles Lakers Trail Blazers 0 Kings 0 Spurs 0 0
18 2002 Los Angeles Lakers Trail Blazers 0 Spurs 1 Kings 3 4
19 2003 New Jersey Nets Bucks 2 Celtics 0 Pistons 0 2
20 2005 San Antonio Spurs Nuggets 1 Sonics 2 Suns 1 4
21 2007 Cleveland Cavaliers Wizards 0 Nets 2 Pistons 2 4
22 2007 San Antonio Spurs Nuggets 1 Suns 2 Jazz 1 4
23 2008 Los Angeles Lakers Nuggets 0 Jazz 2 Spurs 1 3
24 2010 Los Angeles Lakers Thunder 2 Jazz 0 Suns 2 4
25 2011 Miami Heat 76ers 1 Celtics 1 Bulls 1 3
26 2011 Dallas Mavericks Trail Blazers 2 Lakers 0 Thunder 1 3
27 2012 Oklahoma City Thunder Mavericks 0 Lakers 1 Spurs 2 3
28 2013 Miami Heat Bucks 0 Bulls 1 Pacers 3 4
29 2013 San Antonio Spurs Lakers 0 Warriors 2 Grizzlies 0 2
30 2014 Miami Heat Bobcats 0 Nets 1 Pacers 2 3

These are the last 30 teams to get to the NBA Finals with four losses or less. As you can see, there are plenty that got there with three. And, let's be honest here, not all of these teams that lost in the first or second round were championship material. Some teams have the goal to just make the playoffs and be happy with that. We see a few of them every season. (This is not just a product of the extended 1st round era of basketball where they changed it from a Best of 5 to a Best of 7.)

A few years back the Lakers took on the young-lings Thunder in the first, then the Jazz when they had 2 starters already injured. That's not a bad way to get to the NBA Finals, the only team they had to 'beat' were the Suns.

Good fortune exists for all teams if they are smart enough to see it, and strong enough to claim it. We don't need to look too far back, the Spurs of last season got to the NBA Finals with just 2 losses, which is one less than the current Heat team's 3.

Regardless of how they got there, it's going to be a very interesting NBA Finals.

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