A year ago, the Miami Heat were chasing something.
This time around, everyone is chasing them.
And in simplest terms, that's the taproot of the philosophy Heat coach Erik Spoelstra began trying to instill in his team way back in September, even before the first practice of training camp. Only four franchises since 1969 - only five in league history, period - have won back-to-back NBA championships, proof that successfully defending a title is much tougher than winning one in the first place.
Such is the challenge the Heat will face starting Sunday, when they play host to the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference first-round series.
''It's a small group to win back to back because you have to have that same resilience,'' Heat guard Dwyane Wade said. ''We had resilience last year in that no matter what happened, we were going to get through it. Some way, somehow, we were going to win that championship. Do we have that same resilience again? That's the unknown.''