Wednesday, June 5, 2013

2013 NBA Finals Preview: Miami Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs


Before LeBron James could even get a second shot at Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs in the 2013 NBA Finals, the Miami Heat were on the brink of getting the shock of their lives. Surprisingly, they took Game 7 of the Eastern conference finals convincingly in a 23-point blowout. Even though the thought of the Heat in the Finals (again) led to groans across the world, this rematch should be exactly what NBA fans want—if for nothing else, a chance to root against LeBron…again.

Seriously though, four former Finals MVPs (James, Wade, Parker, and Duncan) will be battling it out for a match-up of what will be the best player in the NBA vs. the best team in the NBA. What more could we want?

Although the Heat rattled off 27 straight wins earlier in the year, clearly LeBron does not have the consistent supporting cast in the playoffs that he had in the regular season. That Game 7 of the ECF was a sign of a possible return to their midseason dominance. Despite Chris Bosh shooting an abysmal 3-13 from the field, Dwyane Wade returned to his thrasher-scoring game and dropped 21 and 9. But will a two-man show be enough against the Spurs?

San Antonio proved convincingly in their conference finals that they are the best in the West. The offense that Popovich has instilled gives Tony Parker the freedom to put up 20-25 shots a game (like he did in Game 7, shooting 15-21 from the field) but also provides him with a plethora of weapons both on the perimeter and in the interior. It should not come as a surprise if Parker puts up double-digit assists in the Finals as he did in Game 2 of the WCF where the dimes were dropping everywhere (18 total, a career playoff record for the three-time NBA champion). Popovich gives substantial minutes to nine players—all of which can score when called upon. From a three-point specialist like Matt Bonner to a Hall of Fame post scorer like Tim Duncan, the Spurs currently have the more well-rounded offense.

When playing their best game, however, Miami’s defense is a force to be reckoned with. An incredibly low 77 points for the Pacers in Game 7 is something that the Heat can make a reality on any given night for opposing offenses.


The supreme strength of Miami’s comes as no secret: LeBron James can power a team to wins—even if they are struggling to refocus their identity. On the grandest stage of the NBA, there is no time to waste time battling through nagging injuries, but there will always be the “King James Factor.” The Spurs simply do not have a good answer for him. Popovich found a way to slow the Warriors star, Steph Curry. Memphis’ primary scoring options were non-existent in the WCF (and I’m not convinced the Spurs defense can take much credit for that when Z-Bo couldn’t make a lay-up). The same formulae will not work against LeBron. Danny Green, who was a teammate of LeBron’s in 2009-10 on the Cavaliers, has a huge size disadvantage against Miami’s primary threat. A 250-pound train vs. a 210-pound shooter does not bode well for San Antonio.

Popovich probably won’t spend much time with Green on LeBron and will instead opt for the slightly bulkier Kawhi Leonard. While Leonard has developed into a solid perimeter defender, throwing him on LeBron in the Finals just does not feel like it will be enough. In the same way that Curry got the best of the Spurs in the beginning of the first round of these playoffs, maybe Leonard will slow LeBron initially…but realistically I don’t see it happening consistently (if at all) throughout the Finals. LeBron has talent and experience over any viable defender that the Spurs will throw at him. And some combination of Shane Battier, Ray Allen, Mario Chalmers, and/or Mike Miller will show up when LeBron showcases the great facilitator that he is.

Even if one of the lower thirds of Miami’s Big Three is a no-show occasionally, LeBron will make up the difference. He now has a well-developed post game to complement his relentless attack of the basket. And yes, he can make outside shots (41 percent from three in the regular season and 44 percent in the Eastern conference finals).

The home-court advantage will also tremendously favor the Heat. In a series that will in all likelihood go six or seven games, the Heat would play both of those final two possible games at home. The numbers just are not in San Antonio’s favor—the home team wins 80 percent of Game 7s.

I’m sticking with my pre-season pick. Even though I have become increasingly less confident as the playoffs have worn on, I still feel LeBron will find a way to bring home the regular season and Finals MVP for the second consecutive year.

Miami in 7.

12 comments:

  1. Its pretty tough for me to type this, but I'm going Heat in 5 - honestly, just playing the percentages. No way do Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, AND Ray Allen - Miami's 2nd, 3rd, and 4th best players - put on those sort of disappearing acts for an entire SERIES against SA. Also, when Miami turns on the heat (no pun intended) on defense, nobody can score well against them. Sure, Tony Parker will remain a wizard, but SA overall will overexert trying to find shots on offense, leaving Miami to run out on them through fast breaks. Good luck guarding LeBron when he's running the floor. Miami's been tested against two straight tough defenses, so expect them to drop 110 on Thursday and score on SA at will throughout the series. Mark it.

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  2. Did someone hack your account? Haha. I would have bet money you were going to take SAS - especially since I nearly did it myself. Miami in 5...wow.

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  3. Haha, nope. And as you know, I'm a heat hater to the core. I just feel that Indiana played amazing (check Hibbert's/West's stats in that series relative to their season averages) in the ECFs, while the Heat played pretty poorly (Wade/Bosh/Allen all struggled, and LeBron played well but not quite transcendent), and they were STILL able to win the series! So, I just don't think SA has a chance, and if Chris Bosh and D-Wade can even perform at half of what they are capable of, this series will be over quick. After the stinkers earlier, chances are that they will.

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  4. Indiana did play really well but I think you're comparing apples and oranges here because San Antonio is definitely better than Indiana - and Indiana pushed Miami to 7. Indiana doesn't have a Parker and doesn't have a Duncan. Heat in 5 is a stretch to me because that means they have to pretty much sweep SAS in SA...I really don't think that's possible. (Don't forget the Finals are 2-3-2 format, not 2-2-1-1-1.)

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  5. Indiana not having a Duncan is actually OK, because they had Roy Hibbert and David West - Roy is a much better defender today than Duncan, especially in that series, and David West is a post-up monster. Duncan and Splitter are a solid front-court, but the matchup problems for Miami don't even compare to the ones they had with Indy. Sure, Parker is a great PG and he will score and create for SA's role players. But at the end of the day, it comes down to SA scoring more points than Miami (LOL), and I don't think they can do that.
    I think Heat will grab first two, SA wins game 3, and heat win the next 2. It will be over before it started.

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  6. This series should go at least 6 more likely 7 like you pointed out. If your talking about doing a breakdown on these 2 teams. WHEEW Your talking about splitting atoms.


    One hand you have the most balanced team in the NBA in the Spurs who were 1st overall in assists, 11th in points aloud per game, and score 4th most points per game in the NBA. So they can score with the best and aren't to shabby on defense.


    I do however disagree that using the Pacers series as ANY way of determining the outcome of this series is pointless. Because in the playoffs everything comes down to coaching and matchups. The Spurs aren't nearly the ruff and rugged team of the Pacers and especially downlow which was 1 of Bosh's biggest problems. So right off the bat you can expect Bosh to do much better leaving a UFC match for a boxing match if you will.


    The part where the Spurs are much better is on the offensive end. That IMO is the key of the series. Seeing as how the Spurs are #1 in assist the best passing team in the league. The Heat on defense rely heavily on their speed. So there you have it. Passing and Execution (Spurs) vs Speed (Heat)


    A lot will determine how the Heat are able to handle Tony Parker he is the heart and soul of this offense so when push comes to shove you can bet your vegas $ on Lebron guarding TP because at the end of the night as shown in the Pacers series you can't slump on defense if your intensity on par.



    I also think the Heat facing the Pacers and going game 7 was a match made in heaven. Sure they would have liked to sweep them but in the long run for this finals it was a blessing in disguise. If they were to face the Knicks who aren't nearly on the level defensively and toughness they wouldn't have been battle tested enough to face the superior team in the Spurs. The Pacers pushing the Heat to game 7 made them better and that's what they needed to face the Spurs.


    Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh should see significant upgrades this finals. Moving from Wolves on D to Dogs on D.


    Conclusion. I'll stick with my preseason pick and say the Heat in 7. But I would like to add that my confidence level out of 10 in that pick is about a 4, because I'm not sure if Miami's shooters are going to show up or not. X factor.

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  7. Not looking so good with those predictions now haha. Low scoring AND an SAS win. Miami gonna sweep from here on out?

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  8. How about now? Sweep sure looks possible considering wade, bosh, AND james held under 30!

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  9. Hahahaha - I still don't see it. 6 games minimum and 7 is where I still have my prediction.

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  11. Game 4 was more like how i expected the series to look like... in game 3 NONE of the big 3 scoring 20 is pathetic

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  12. Never underestimate the power of LeChoke.

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