The Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs could be headed for another meeting in the NBA finals. In 2013, the perennial contenders faced off in a seven game thriller that culminated in Miami’s second consecutive championship. With both teams currently competing in conference finals, another head to head matchup is more than possible; in some ways, it seems almost inevitable.
Should there be a Heat-Spurs rematch, the Heat would be gunning for a “three-peat.” Miami will attempt to become the first team to win three straight titles since the Shaq/Kobe led Lakers accomplished the feat from 2000-2002. It would also be the fourth consecutive finals appearance for the Heat.
San Antonio seeks its fifth championship since 1999, but first since 2007. Before losing to Miami in 2013, the Spurs had been victorious in each of their four finals appearances. Only the aforementioned Lakers, who won five titles overall from 2000-2010, have been as successful in recent history.
Of course, there is a subplot to a potential Heat-Spurs finals: It could be the last championship run for one or even both teams.
While the Spurs and Heat are very different, they are alike in that much of their success can be attributed to a “big three” of key players. For both teams, these long time stars are approaching free agency, or possibly, retirement. While nothing has been decided, 2014 could be the last hurrah for the two teams as they are currently constructed.
Miami has been the team to beat in the NBA since Lebron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwayne Wade for the 2010-11 season. No team in the league has had an answer for the Heat’s dynamic trio of stars. The big three are under contract through 2015, but each has the option of opting out of his current deal following the 2014 playoffs. Also at the end of his current contract is veteran guard Ray Allen, who has been another integral member of the team.
In San Antonio, eternal Spur Tim Duncan will be a free agent after the season. Duncan has combined with Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker to give the Spurs their own big three for the last decade. There has been no indication that Duncan will leave San Antonio, but there is another factor in play.
Duncan is 38 with a history of foot problems. Ginobili is 36, and has been plagued by nagging injuries at times in recent years. Parker is 32, but has spent his career being hammered by bigger players under the basket. Both Duncan and Ginobili have hinted that they could call it quits soon, though neither has committed to hanging it up after the season.
Should Miami win a third consecutive title, James, Wade, and Bosh are almost certain to return. The Heat would enter 2014-15 with a chance to become the first team since the legendary Celtics of Bill Russel to win at least four championships in a row.
A San Antonio win would give the Spurs a shot at a sixth title during the Duncan era entering next season. Only Michael Jordan’s Bulls of the 1990’s have accomplished such a feat in recent history. A chance to equal Jordan would certainly be an incentive for Duncan to return.
The Heat and Spurs have been the class of the NBA over the last fifteen years, combining to win seven championships over that span. While 2014 may or may not be the swan song for these two franchises, fans should be sure to enjoy and appreciate them while they are still at the top. Time marches on, and no dynasty lasts forever.