It’s the reigning NBA champions against a team that has won four championships since 1999. It is the “Big 3” against one of the original “Big 3’s”. It’s the top seed in the Eastern Conference against the second seed in the Western Conference. It is the Miami Heat against the San Antonio Spurs, and this, is the NBA Finals.
Let’s look at how each team got here. The Spurs breezed through the Western Conference. They swept the Lakers in the first round, beat the Warriors in 6 games in the second round, and then swept the Grizzlies in the Western Conference Finals.
The Heat on the other hand had a much tougher road. After sweeping the Bucks in the first round, they went on to beat the Bulls in 5 games, but none of them were easy. The Pacers took the Heat to a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals, but LeBron and crew prevailed.
I’ve underestimated the Spurs all season long, and I am not ready to do it again. The Spurs have a legitimate shot at winning this series, especially if Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh remain incognito. The Spurs are a much better offensive team than Indiana was, so Miami will need to be able to keep pace.
Tony Parker is the key to this series. If TP can match LeBron’s scoring and playmaking, the Spurs will have a great chance to win. Take LeBron and Parker off their respective teams, and San Antonio has the better supporting cast right now (this all changes if Bosh, Wade, and Allen actually contribute).
Unless LeBron is guarding Parker, and I don’t think he will for most of the game, the Heat don’t have anyone that can really stay in front of him. Parker has the chance to live in the paint this series; he’s one of the best in the world at scoring in the paint.
But let’s look past LeBron and TP though, because regardless of whoever is guarding them, they are going to put up very good numbers. (People keep trying to tell me that Kawhi Leonard can guard LeBron, but nobody can guard LeBron. Leonard is the Spurs best chance at slowing him down, but I expect LeBron to have a great series.)
The Dwyane Wade/Manu Ginobili matchup is guaranteed to produce the most flops one series has ever seen. If Wade plays like he did in Game 7, he has the edge. But he played like crap in Games 1-6, and Miami will not be able to win the title if he doesn’t step up his game. Who knows which Wade we’ll see.
I fully expect Chris Bosh to have a much better series. As good as Tim Duncan is at defense, he is more of a finesse player than David West and Roy Hibbert were. The physicality clearly gave Bosh fits, and frankly, he can’t play much worse. He’s going to have to man up and play some defense though of Timmy D will destroy him in the post.
Both of these teams have great shooters. The Heat have Ray Allen, Shane Battier, and Mike Miller while the Spurs have Danny Green, Gary Neal, and Matt Bonner. I have a feeling that one of these six players is going to have a break out series and shoot like lights out. Battier did it last year in the Finals, can he do it again?
The Spurs are a very, very good team that definitely can beat the Heat. But when the Heat turn it on, they are a step above everyone else. This series really falls on the Heat’s shoulders. When they feel like trying, they win. When they just go through the motions and don’t really show up, they lose. If Wade and Bosh play well, this series could end pretty quickly, but if they go missing again, Miami could be eliminated just as fast. It all comes down to the Heat and how bad they really want it.
Heat in 6