Another NBA season is coming to a close, but the Spurs/Heat remain the best two teams from their respective divisions. This will be the first rematch in consecutive finals since the Bulls/Jazz, and we all know how that one ended.
Will Miami top the Spurs in consecutive years? The Spurs were on the verge of taking out Miami in Game 6 even while LeBron was posting a triple double. They still needed an untimely miss by the greatest PF of all time, a perfect bounce to Chris Bosh, and the greatest three point shooter of all time just to make it to overtime. This time around the Spurs have homecourt advantage, which I believe works in the Heat’s favor.
It’s hard to imagine the series returning to Miami for Game 3 with the Heat down 2-0. Eric Spoelstra did a great job this season resting Dwayne Wade, and it has paid dividends in the playoffs. Last year, the season wore out the aging Heat superstar and it effected his play in the playoffs. Wade averaged a career low 15.9 pts/gm in the 2012/2013 playoffs. He’s up to 18.7 pts/gm while shooting 52% and 39% from three! Wade is going to be a huge factor in the series this year. Somebody else who didn’t play so well last year, Manu Ginoboli, has also tapped into the fountain of youth this season.
Last year Manu struggled tremendously in the Finals. The one game he really excelled was Game 5 and the Spurs were in control for the entire game. Manu has been spectacular this postseason; his scoring woes seem to be behind him and making some pretty dimes. This finals has the makings to top last year’s Finals, and that is saying something.
Tony Parker’s Game 1 Winner:
Game 2- Chalmers’ break out game and this ridiculous block
Game 3- 16 3’s from the Spurs
Gary Neal 6/10 from 3p and Danny Green NBA Finals Record 7/9
Game 4-Big Three combine for 85 points in a 109-93 win
Game 5- Mannuuuuuuu
Game 6- LeBron’s triple double and Jesus Shuttlesworth
Game 7- Battier remembers how to shoot 6/8 3p and LeBron goes off as the Spurs dare him to shoot
Last year’s Finals was filled with drama and story lines. So what can we look for this year in this series? Everybody talked about KD and LeBron meeting up in the Finals as the best matchup, but they don’t play a similar style. LeBron Vs Kawhi Leonard is the real deal for matchups! It’s such a fun matchup to watch and they are going to bring it on both ends of the court. Sugar Kay Leonard was the only man brave enough to go right at Ibaka and finish strong. Another interesting story line will be the coaching battle with lineup changes. Both coaches adjusted their starting lineups in the conference finals and look to see more of that as the series develops.
I expect the Heat to come out with: Chalmers, Wade, James, Rashard, and Bosh. With the resurgence of Rashard as a legitimate three point threat, this lineup really spaces the floor. Spurs: Parker, Green, Kawhi, Duncan, Splitter. I can see either Diaw or Ginobli moving into Splitter’s spot on the starting rotation. Something the Spurs didn’t have to worry about last year that much was Chris Bosh shooting threes. He’s already made 25 threes this postseason while shooting at an All Star level of 41%. Bosh dragging out one of the Spurs bigs really opens up lanes for James and Wade to do their thing.
The second units are going to play a major role in this battle and both teams are deep. Norris Cole and Birdman provide a nice spark off the bench. Cole is a great defender and should be up for the challenge in defending Patty Mills. Spo usually always has LeBron or Wade on the court at all times. Wade leads the second unit from around 3 minutes left in the first until around 7 mins left into the 2nd. This will be a make or break stretch for both clubs in building or narrowing leads. The Spurs always have a deep bench since Pop limits the main stars to around 30 mins/game. We know the Spurs will have excellent ball movement, play good defense, and shoot a ton of threes.
The Spurs have a more balanced attack on offense with 5 players averaging double figures: Parker 17.2, Duncan 16.5, Ginobli 14.3, Leonard 13.3, and Diaw 10. The Heat rely a lot more on the big three’s scoring as they are the only ones averaging double figures: LeBron 27.1, Wade 18.7, Bosh 15.2 with Ray Allen coming in at 9.1.
Everything points to this series being another classic, and we don’t expect anything less. The Spurs have been poetic at times with their ball movement. It has been fun to watch, but they have also been blown out twice by a younger more explosive Thunder team. The Heat are always fun to watch, and when they are locked in on defense are next to impossible to beat. Will the Heat three peat? Or will Pop and Timmay’s Spurs get their 5th title in 15 years?
I wouldn’t be surprised with either team winning, of course. We thought last year was the Spurs last hurrah but they continue to defy time by reloading with the proper players for their system and ageless super stars. On the other hand, the Heat have tried their best to fill their lineup with enough solid role players for their Big 3 and it’s paid off with 4 straight Finals appearances. They took some gambles this year that haven’t paid off with Beasley and Oden, but they still have enough shooting to supplant their free agency whiffs.
My prediction: The Heat in 6.
The Heat steal game 1, Spurs win game 2, the Heat hold down home court in games 3 and 4, Spurs fight off elimination in game 5, and the Heat win in front of their home court in Game 6.
LeBron wins his third straight Finals MVP. It’s worth noting that this is LeBron and Wade’s 5th finals appearance in their 11 years in the league. They have a chance to make it .500 by getting back to the Finals next year, and that will be too good for LeBron to go anywhere else.
Whatever happens, I know what I’ll be watching this Thursday.
Be sure to check out our podcasts over at http://ptsportsdebate.podbean.com