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.
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|26||2011||Dallas Mavericks||Trail Blazers||2||Lakers||0||Thunder||1||3|
|27||2012||Oklahoma City Thunder||Mavericks||0||Lakers||1||Spurs||2||3|
|29||2013||San Antonio Spurs||Lakers||0||Warriors||2||Grizzlies||0||2|
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.