2. Miami Heat - 2013
Yes, unfortunately, I do have to acknowledge the 2013 NBA Finals indeed did happen, but I promise I won't show you "the shot." Instead, I'll focus on things like the 66-16 record the Miami Heat finished with that season. Or the 26.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 7.3 assists LeBron put up that year in an MVP season.
James and Dwyane Wade averaged a combined 48 points per game throughout the regular season, one in which the Heat were 5th in both points per game (102.9) and points allowed per game (95.0). While this year's squad struggled a little bit more to reach the Finals, LeBron's otherworldly play easily propels this team above the 2014 squad and it was probably better than the 2012 one with the addition of Ray Allen.
The 2013 Finals was the one that got away from the Spurs in the most heartbreaking fashion imaginable in a complete last-minute collapse on the verge of glory. Only the events of 2014 made it all ok in the eyes of the Spurs and their fans.
1. Detroit Pistons - 2005
I know it's hard to believe a team the Spurs defeated is actually better than one they lost to, but I'll start by letting the guys who were there themselves give you some insight.
"We just played a great team," said Gregg Popovich after clinching his third NBA title in 2005. "I don't know how the hell we did it, but I am thrilled."
Popovich has since expressed how he still isn't sure how the Spurs were able to win that series, and there's no doubt he thinks that was the toughest team they ever faced in the playoffs.
“The most fulfilling [title] was against Detroit," said Tim Duncan in a 2021 interview. "We had to go to a seventh game against them and that was probably the most nerve-wracking of the Finals. "A reporter literally asked if I had any fear of this team. “Are you scared going into this game?” And [I was] like, yeah!"
The 2005 Pistons were coming off an NBA title season in which they had knocked off the Lakers' superteam consisting of Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone, and Gary Payton. In the Eastern Conference Finals, they defeated the duo of Shaq and Dwyane Wade using their depth and all-around talent as opposed to individual star power.
Game 7 against the Spurs couldn't have been any more of a nailbiter, as the evenly matched teams were tied at 57 a piece going into the final frame of the final game. In the end, clutch plays by Manu Ginobili, Robert Horry, and Tim Duncan eventually led to an 81-74 win over the Pistons, who were the greatest team San Antonio ever faced in any of their postseason title runs.