By the time this is posted, it will be the day of game 1 of the finals on the east coast and are people looking forward to this rematch of the NBA Finals from last year? I think there is some excitement here, especially after last season’s series which should have ended with the Spurs hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Instead the Heat won back to back and they are looking for the 3peat this season. In my opinion, the NBA playoffs are a hit or miss every season as of late, especially being that the Eastern Conference is as weak as it is. The Pacers were expected to give the Heat a run for their money before the season started and after this the Eastern Conference Finals it seems that Indiana took a step backwards. The Heat took an easy road to the NBA Finals this year after sweeping Charlotte, defeating the Nets in 5 and finishing off the Pacers in 6. The Heat were never pushed to the brink where the average fan thought, “Hmm, maybe the Heat will actually drop this series”. That has been an afterthought over the last couple of seasons and maybe this will be the last year where the big 3 are together in Miami, but only time will tell. I’ve listened to the analysts as much as I possibly could since this matchup has been finalized and I heard a few “experts” say that the Heat had a stronger team last year, than they do this year, and I respectfully disagree. I would be the first person to tell you I hate the Heat and I disliked them before it was popular to dislike them as an Orlando Magic fan. But regardless of Wade’s injury issues — those are not issues when they are four wins away from a championship. Winners will play like winners and injuries are not a concern in analyzing this year’s matchup.
As for the Spurs, they escaped a tough matchup against Dallas in round 1 by winning in 7, they cruised to defeat the Blazers in 5, and until Ibaka came back for two OkC home games, San Antonio dominated that series and clearly looked like the stronger team even without Tony Parker on the floor. The Spurs have proven year after year they can compete for championships and they would admit they let one slip through their fingers last season. The one disadvantage if you have to pick one for this team would be they are aging, but some may even consider that an advantage. San Antonio is deep and can get production from any of their starting five along with any of their supporting bench cast. They earned the right to be in the Finals again and achieve redemption. Will Tim Duncan retire if his team wins? Time will tell with that as well. Lets jump into the analyses and final prediction of the season in regards to the NBA.
1) San Antonio Spurs vs 2) Miami Heat
3rd Round Predictions: Spurs in 7, Heat in 6
3rd Round Outcomes: Spurs in 6, Heat in 6
San Antonio Spurs Analysis: As I mentioned before, the Spurs must feel like they let them title slip between their fingers last season in the Finals and they are looking for redemption. At times during this postseason, the Spurs have looked unbeatable and they are on a mission to take it all. They have the main core to do it, but if Parker misses any time in this series, they may not be able to hang around. They will need to get production from their bench players like they have been in previous series’ this post season. Tim Duncan has also looked unstoppable in the paint and definitely had his way with the Thunder and can be a nightmare for defenses. Chris Bosh has told the media earlier this post season that he would prefer to shoot threes than to battle in the paint and sure, if you can knock them down, it’s more an efficient way to score points and to stay on the floor longer. Will Birdman Anderson be able to handle Duncan all to himself or will he need some assistance from Bosh under the rim? Last series I had picked Boris Diaw to step up and be an impact in the series against the Thunder. He got off to a slow start in the first two games of the series, but to his credit, the Spurs blew the Thunder out both games and didn’t need a lot of minutes from the Frenchman. He got stronger as the series extended and in game 6, Diaw finished with 26 points and shot 57% from the field and 50% from beyond the arch in a quality performance. Other than the big 3 having to do what they do in Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili, my player to watch for this series is Kawhi Leonard. He put up nice numbers in the last series but he still has not located his shot as he’s struggling from a percentage standpoint on the floor. If he ends up being a 4th reliable option for the Spurs and Danny Green is effective on the road like he is at home, it will be a tough series for the Heat to take.
Miami Heat Analysis: Pat Riley’s built up Heat team is looking for the 3peat. Will it be the last hoo-rah for the Heat with the big 3 as they know it? A lot of questions that still remain to be answered in the off-season and no matter how this Finals plays out should not be the difference maker. The Heat seemed to be toying with the Pacers last round at times and there was never a time in the series where anyone thought Miami could actually fall. Chris Bosh played an exceptional series and is playing with a brand new confidence. In the last series, my player to watch was James Jones and I missed on it. He played a whopping 10 minutes in all 6 games combined so needless to say he did not make much of an impact. His services were not needed to win out in the series and the Heat didn’t need much bench help to get by Indiana. Other than the big 3 in LeBron James, D-Wade, and Chris Bosh and even Ray Allen who the Spurs will not sleep on no longer — I’m going to stick with James Jones along with Norris Cole. Cole didn’t make a large impact in the point production, but he made the hustle plays that kept him on the floor. He averaged 23 minutes in the 6 game series and any type of production when the stars need their rest gets you extra opportunities. I think the Heat will need to trust their bench performers in a hard series against the Spurs and I expect Jones and Cole to have solid games…even if it isn’t exactly putting the ball in the net.
Prediction: Heat in 6