As the Coronavirus spreads across the globe, the world of sports has been put on hold. Last week, we saw March Madness get canceled and the NBA season postponed. With no end in sight to a world without sports, we can look to the past to get our fix. Although the 2010’s decade has concluded, there were many teams in the NBA during this time that we can look back on and admire. The 2010s saw multiple teams take their turns in the spotlight, and was a decade of superstar team-ups. In this article, we will be looking at just five teams. Without further adieu, here are the five best NBA teams of the 2010s.
Five Best NBA Teams Of The 2010s
2016-17 Golden State Warriors
This was perhaps the biggest free-agent signing of the decade if it weren’t for LeBron James. When Kevin Durant joined the Golden State Warriors in the summer of 2016, expectations for this team were sky high and for good reason. Stephen Curry was coming off of the first unanimous MVP in NBA history, averaging 30.1 points per game while joining the 50-40-90 club in 2015. Klay Thompson was being recognized as a superstar in his own right. Draymond Green was on the All NBA defense-first team. And finally, this team was deep with veterans including Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, and others. So when Durant signed, the league was put on notice. With a record of 67-15, the Warriors faced little competition throughout the year. Their big three all averaged over 20 points a game, and Green was a repeat member of the all-NBA first-team defense.
The Warriors finished first in offensive rating and second in defensive rating. They ended up sweeping their first three playoff series, before beating the Cleveland Cavaliers in just five games. Without question, this Warriors team will go down as one of the best teams assembled in any sport ever.
2015-16 Golden State Warriors
Before Durant joined, the Warriors were still at the top of the NBA ladder. As mentioned earlier, this was the unanimous MVP season for Curry. Defensively, this team was a step below their 2016 counterparts. But the Warriors were better in the regular season in 2015 than 2016. This was the season they went 73-9, started the year 24-0, and finished with the best record in NBA history. Curry and Thompson were leading the three-point revolution. As a whole, the team finished first in points per game with 114.9, and shooting percentage both from two and three. Their chemistry and passing ability were beautiful to watch as well, as they led the league in assists. This team also had a great bench, with Marreese Speights and Leandro Barbosa producing in their final seasons.
Their postseason is what held this squad back from their 2016 counterparts. Unlike 2016-17, this team had a much harder playoff test. Their biggest tests would include the Oklahoma City Thunder, then an NBA finals rematch against the Cavaliers. This was the infamous series where the Thunder were ahead three games to one, before losing the series. In the finals, the Cavaliers would get a superhuman series from James, which the Warriors simply couldn’t overcome. Despite coming up short, this Warriors team is still one of the most gifted offensive teams in history, and an easy choice for one of the five best NBA teams of the 2010s.
2012-13 Miami Heat
Before Golden State became a dynasty, the Miami Heat were the team to beat for four years. Out of all the Heat teams, the 2013-13 team was the dynasty at its best. At 28 years old, LeBron James was at the peak of his powers. Only one vote short of unanimous MVP, James had per-game averages of 26.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 7.3 assists. With fellow superstars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh flanking the king, the Heat went on a 27 game winning streak. Only 31, Wade was still a top tier player during 2012, and Bosh was stretching the floor as well as any big man we’d seen at the time. What made this team especially dangerous was their depth. Ray Allen was a 41 percent shooter from deep despite being 37. And Shane Battier, Mike Miller, Norris Cole, and Chris Andersen were all contributors as well.
With three years of chemistry built up, this team was in sync. A large part of that has to go to head coach Erik Spoelstra, who did a masterful job working with the three superstars. Although they weren’t the first big three in NBA history, they were one of the best. In the playoffs, the Indiana Pacers gave them a good test in the conference finals due to their size and emergence of Paul George but got bested in seven games. In the NBA finals, the Heat would be victorious against the San Antonio Spurs in seven games and gave us one of the most iconic shots ever by Allen. Partially overlooked by the Warriors dynasty, it’s easy to forget just how incredible this team was to watch.
2013-14 San Antonio Spurs
In the final two years of the Heat dynasty, the Spurs were the one team to challenge them in the NBA Finals. One of the things that made the Spurs so dangerous was that they had their own big three. The Spurs had their own big three in Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Tim Duncan. These three had been playing together since the 2002 season and their chemistry had been perfected over the years. These Spurs were one of the most selfless teams of the decade. They led the league in assists, and because they were always willing to make an extra pass, they finished second in field goal percentage, and first from beyond the arch that year. Along with their big three, they had role players who were selfless and bought into the Spurs culture. Patty Mills, Danny Green, Boris Diaw, Marco Belinelli, and Kawhi Leonard were among them.
If you’re a new fan of the NBA, seeing Leonard not being a member of the big three might be a jaw-dropper. But in the 2013 season, Leonard was only 22 years old, and a work in progress offensively. However, what won this team its NBA Finals rematch against Miami was the emergence of Leonard. This time around, the Spurs only needed five games to put the Heat dynasty away for good and earn redemption. This was in large part due to Leonard emerging as a two-way star against James. Although James still put up his usual numbers, it was much harder for him than it was in the previous year. This time around, his supporting cast struggled to offer support, and that’s because of the suffocating defense played by the Spurs. This team will be remembered for its selfless offense and commitment to defense.
2015-16 Cleveland Cavaliers
Although the 2017-18 Warriors could’ve been in this spot, the Cavaliers winning their first championship under the circumstances they did puts them in the final spot. Big threes have been all over this list, and this team is no different. In year two of LeBron James’s homecoming, he was flanked by stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. Although in defensive rating they finished tenth, they had an offensive rating of third. J.R. Smith shot 40 percent from three, Love and Tristan Thompson dominated the boards and having Irving as a second star helped take some of the load off of James. This was also the year they fired head coach David Blatt halfway through the season and replaced him with Tyronn Lue. They finished 57-25, but the postseason is where they truly shined and earned a spot on these five best NBA teams of the 2010’s list.
The path to the Finals was fairly easy for Cleveland. They began by sweeping their first two matchups against the Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks. They were tested in six games by the second-seeded Toronto Raptors and their star backcourt of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, but the Cavaliers were too much for Toronto to handle. The Finals were against the 73-9 Warriors who were mentioned earlier. After going down three games to one, many thought the series was over. The Warriors wins had come by margins of 15, 33, and 11. Irving and James proceeded to play possessed in game five, each scoring an astounding 41 points. The Cavaliers would be carried by Irving (25.2 points per game) and James (26.3 points per game) the rest of the way, and bring Cleveland their first championship in 52 years.
Coming Up Just Short Of The Five Best NBA Teams Of The 2010s
2017-18 Golden State Warriors
2016-17 Cleveland Cavaliers
2011-12 Miami Heat
2010-11 Dallas Mavericks
2018-19 Toronto Raptors
Big Three vs Dynamic Duos
Looking back on the five best NBA teams of the 2010s, every team possessed a big three. After the Boston Celtics successfully created one in 2007, the league followed in their footsteps. Now in 2020, we’re currently in the dynamic duo era. Whether or not the league will continue this latest trend, or go back to creating big threes will be something to follow throughout the decade. Finally, may we all hope the NBA season can be resumed sooner rather than later.
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