The 2000’s decade of the NBA has seen less dominant teams than we saw in the 1990’s and the 1980’s, and the list for which NBA Finals teams of the decade are the best is more competitive than before.
The Lakers won 4 titles during the decade starting with the 2000-2001 team and that’s not even taking into account the 1999-2000 champions.
Here is a list of which teams were the best in the decade and why for NBA fans to debate and discuss:
10. 2005-2006 Miami Heat-
The Heat got an all-time great performance from Dwyane Wade to beat the Dallas Mavericks and help Miami overcome plenty of deficits against Dallas. Many fans felt that Wade was greatly aided by the refs in this series as he paraded to the line time after time but you can’t take away the great performances this team put in against a Dallas team that had more depth. Shaquille O’Neal was solid but not his dominant self at this point in history but remained one of the top centers in the game.
9. 2008-2009 LA Lakers-
This Lakers squad took out the Orlando Magic in the finals, which was an impressive performance but not against a top-notch opponent. The Lakers were deep, versatile, long, and athletic and of course led by Kobe Bryant but not dominant like many other similar teams of the era.
8. 2007-2008 Boston Celtics-
Led by Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, the Celtics took care of a very good but not great Lakers team in the Finals. Ray Allen and the maturation of Rajon Rondo factored big in their win making them one of the best teams of the 2000’s decade. They came together quicker than anyone expected but with Doc Rivers at the helm it’s hard to place them over the other champs of the era considering his coaching deficiencies compared with some of the all-time greats on this list.
7. 2009-2010 LA Lakers-
An improved version of the previous year’s title team, the Lakers became good enough to win without Kobe Bryant having his best night finally as evidenced by Kobe’s 6-for-24 performance in the clinching game 7 of the series. They beat a Celtics team that was fairly similar to the one that beat them two years prior and erased all doubts of Bryant’s status as an elite player of all-time capable of carrying his team to multiple titles without a dominant center making them one of the best NBA teams of the 2000’s decade.
6. 2002-2003 San Antonio Spurs-
The Spurs had an easy finals opponent in New Jersey and while they played great defense, they weren’t the type of overwhelming team from a physical standpoint that many other teams on this list were. The Spurs were led of course by Tim Duncan, perhaps the best power forward of all-time, and a bevy of three-pointer shooters to go with David Robinson in his last year.
5. 2006-2007 San Antonio Spurs-
This team feasted on a green LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers squad with a sweep in the Finals and again showed why the Spurs are so tough to play against. They played lockdown defense and had the best chemistry in the league yet again.
4. 2004-2005 San Antonio Spurs-
The Spurs beat a Pistons team in 7 games that was suffering the consequences of coach Larry Brown’s wandering eyes and seemed to be in-fighting a little bit. Robert Horry’s clutch three to win game 5 in Detroit was huge but it was the result of a Rasheed Wallace defensive mistake. But Manu Ginobili’s rise to near-superstardom punctuated this season as he took over late in the series.
3. 2003-2004 Detroit Pistons-
Opinions vary wildly on the strength of this team, which won just 54 games over the course of the regular season which is low for a champion. But they played most of the year without Rasheed Wallace, whose arrival transformed them into one of the best defensive teams of all-time. They showed the next two years how strong they could be over a whole season as well. In the Finals, they dismantled a Lakers team in four games that many thought could end up being one of the league’s all-time best teams and frustrated Kobe Bryant into his worst Finals performance of all-time making the Pistons one of the best NBA Finals teams of the 2000’s decade. When they were dialed in on defense, teams had a hard time even getting a shot off against the length of the front line of Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace, and Tayshaun Prince, while the guards handled the scoring duties.
2. 2001-2002 LA Lakers-
The Nets proved to be an easy victory for the Lakers in the Finals and this was the team that put an exclamation point on an already impressive back-to-back run for LA with a third championship. Shaquille O’Neal continued to dominate like few other centers ever have and Kobe Bryant followed his dominance up with clutch scoring and tremendous defense on the perimeter.
1. 2000-2001 LA Lakers-
This team rattled off perhaps the most impressive playoff run NBA fans have ever seen considering the competition in a stacked Western Conference. They swept extremely talented Spurs and Kings teams on their way to a 15-1 post-season record. The lone blemish? A loss in the Finals to a Philadelphia team led by Allen Iverson in his most dominant performance ever.
Shaquille O’Neal was a monster and the MVP, his first of three straight, while Bryant had already morphed into a superstar and the supporting cast was led by quality role players like Derek Fisher and Rick Fox that coach Phil Jackson could trust.
The dominant run makes them the best NBA Finals team of the 2000’s decade by a wide margin with only the next year’s team coming close to their dominance.
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