NBA Commentary: San Antonio Spurs vs. Miami Heat NBA Finals Preview.
2013 NBA Finals.
The 2013 NBA Playoffs are slowly coming to an end. After weeks of hard fought playoff series, we've arrived at the cusp of the NBA Finals. With the Miami Heat's 99-76 dismantling of the Indiana Pacers last night, the stage for a potentially historic NBA Finals series is now set. The San Antonio Spurs will be taking on the Miami Heat. The series gets underway on June 06, 2013.
This series has all the elements and story lines that could make an NBA Finals that could be talked about for years to come. The Miami Heat, easily regarded as the leagues most popular team, are making their third straight NBA Finals appearance. A win in this series, and they'll become back to back NBA champions. The San Antonio Spurs are making their first finals appearance since 2007, where they defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers; the same Cavaliers team that was led by LeBron James, who chose to take his talents to South Beach in 2011.
For people who know or follow my sports related topics, it's no secret that I'm no fan of the Miami Heat. I made that clearly evident in an article I wrote a few weeks back on why I wanted the Miami Heat to fail in their mission for another title. That article can be read here. Although I wanted to see the Pacers take out the Heat and end their hopes of a second straight title, I think it'll be an even sweeter feeling if my favorite team the San Antonio Spurs are able to do it.
Now even though I'm a Spurs fan, I'll admit that they have an uphill battle to climb if they want to win their fifth championship. Despite my dislikiking for the Heat, I'll give them them respect in regards to how talented of a unit they are. In the coming paragraphs, I'm going to breakdown how I see this series going. Again I want to make it clear that I'm pulling for the San Antonio Spurs. However, I will try to be as non-biased as I possibly can in my assessments.
San Antonio's Path to the NBA Finals.
Neither the Spurs or Heat had worry free paths to reach the NBA Finals. Both teams were involved in series that tested them both mentally and physically. In the first round of the playoffs, the San Antonio Spurs faced a Kobe Bryant-less Los Angeles Lakers team. The Spurs would go on to sweep the Lakers and with the victory, they easily made themselves the favorite out of the West Conference.
In the second round of the playoffs, the Spurs found themselves greatly tested by a young, but talented Golden State Warriors team. This series featured several games that needed overtimes to decide a winner. However, the Spurs would go on to win the series 4-2, and eliminated the Warriors from the playoffs. Up next for the Spurs would be the Memphis Grizzlies - a team that the Spurs were seeking revenge against, after the Grizzlies put the then number one seeded Spurs out in the first round of the playoffs in 2011.
Things would be different this time around. The Spurs dispatched of the Grizzlies by sweeping them 4-0. With the victory, the Spurs would make their fifth appearance in the NBA Finals, and their first since 2007. Although the Spurs had many of the same players from the 2011 series against the Grizzlies, it appeared that each player knew what his role was on the team. Playing a full and fairly injury free season together allowed the chemistry to be better this time around.
Miami's Road to the NBA Finals.
In contrast to the Spurs, the Miami Heat's road to the NBA Finals was probably a bit more hard fought. Being that the Heat are the defending champions, they were automatically the favorite to go back by most people. Their strong campaign during the regular season also made it hard to bet against them. They finished the season with a 66-16 record, which was the best in the NBA.
On the heels of their strong showing during the regular season, their leader LeBron James was also awarded the the NBA's Most Valuable Player Award. With their top seed in the Eastern Conference, the Heat squared off against the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round. It wasn't much of a surprise to most when the Heat broke out the broom and swept the Bucks, eliminating them from the playoffs.
Round two found the Heat matched up against an injury laden Chicago Bulls team. The Bulls showed a lot of heart and grit in game one, and left Miami with a 1-0 series lead. Although the Bulls were missing key players, and were even so shorthanded that several of their players had to play entire games at times, they made no excuses. The Miami Heat would eventually wear down the exhausted Bulls team, and win the series 4 games to 1.
The Eastern Conference Finals pitted Miami against the Indiana Pacers. These two teams squared off in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 2012, and things got testy between the two teams at times. It was no different this time around. Tempers often flared on the court, which resulted in technical fouls, fines, and suspensions. The Pacers were able to push the Miami Heat to the brink, and forced a game 7 in Miami. However, Miami's key players Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade, and Ray Allen showed up in the final game, and the Heat would win the series with their 99-76 game seven victory.
Keys to Victory for the San Antonio Spurs.
Although the Spurs defeated the LeBron James led Cavaliers in the 2007 NBA Finals, the circumstances this time around are different. James' game has evolved, and he's has developed into more of a facilitator - rather than being the primary scoring option like he was in Cleveland. He still is the primary scorer, but he involves his teammates more now. Here are the keys that I think will help lead the Spurs to victory in this series, and thus a 5th NBA Championship trophy.
- Use their big men and size to their advantage: One of the Miami Heat's weaknesses is that they don't have a dominant big man in the paint. One of the reasons why Miami was able to close out the Pacers in game seven, was because they out-rebounded the Pacers. Pacers center Roy Hibbert had success scoring down low against the Heat. The Spurs have future hall-of-famer Tim Duncan, Boris Diaw, and Tiago Splitter in their front court. All three of them are going to need to crash the boards hard to counteract the Heat's athleticism. Both Duncan and Splitter need to be able to score down low as well.
- Manu Ginobilli has to become more involved offensively: Manu Ginobilli has been one of the Spurs best players for years. However, he's struggled quite a bit in the 2013 NBA Playoffs. despite hitting the game winning three pointer in overtime against the Warriors, Ginobilli shot a dismal 34% from the field in that series. His shooting woes continued in in the series against Memphis. Ginobilli's probably in somewhat of a shooting slump, so he needs to attack the basket more if his shots aren't falling down. There have also been some concerns as to how healthy Ginobilli has been during the playoffs. At any rate, he needs to be more of an offensive factor if they Spurs are going to win.
- Trust in Tony Parker, and allow him to dictate the pace: Spurs point guard Tony Parkers has been excellent during the regular season, and in the playoffs. Parker is averaging 23 points per game during the playoffs. He is also averaging 7.2 assists per game as well, which means that he has been facilitating games pretty well to go along with his scoring. In the past, the Spurs relied more on Tim Duncan more to win their championships. However, this time around they're gonna have to rely on Parker if they want to defeat Miami. This is now his team.
Keys to Victory for Miami.
As I mentioned earlier, the Heat are likely the favorite to win this series based solely on the fact that they're the defending champions. They also have the home court advantage in their favor. However, even though they're the defending champs, they've certainly not played like it at times during the playoffs. Lapses in mental judgments, and poor performances at times from Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade have forced LeBron James to put all of the weight on his shoulders at times. When that's happened, they normally have lost. Here are the keys I think Miami need to defeat a veteran team in the San Antonio Spurs.
- The Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade Factor: Dwayne Wade has been playing through a knee injury during the entire playoffs. This at times has hindered his play, even though he had a strong outing game seven against the Pacers. Bosh on the other hand has been struggling for most of the playoffs. Bosh has averaged well under the 16.6 points per game he averaged during the regular season. The Heat are going to need consistent production from both Bosh and Wade to enhance their chances of taking home a second straight title.
- Must use their athleticism: It's no secret that the Heat are one of, if not the most athletic team in the league. They really know how to close in on defense, and they're extremely fast and quick in the open court. They're gonna have to use that quickness and athleticism to close in on quick shooters like Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, and Gary Neal, who all are young players that don't hesitate to shoot the three ball.
- Out hustle the Spurs: The Spurs are often thought of as an old team in most people's eyes, mainly because their three best players are all in their 30's(Parker, Duncan, Ginobilli). However, I feel that age is overrated in general, and I definitely believe that's the case here. I still can't deny the fact that the Spurs legs are a bit more older than the Heat. The Heat are going to have to out-hustle the Spurs to win. Miami will already be at a disadvantage in size, so they're gonna have to go after every lose ball, and outwork the Spurs. I doubt they will be able to out-muscle them, so their effort will be key. The Heat should be able to win the series if they outwork the Spurs.
How I See the Series Going.
It's nearly impossible to offer solid predictions when it comes to sports, because anyone or any team always has a chance when they step into the spotlight. Otherwise, there wouldn't be any reason for any of us to watch right? Even though I'm rooting for the Spurs, I think this will be a very close series, and possibly one of the best NBA Finals in recent memory.
There's this sports channel that I watch on Youtube, where the user provides commentary and breakdowns on various sports. There's a term that he often uses called 'adaptive-reactive'. He normally uses this term whenever he describe boxers. However, in one of his recent videos, he used this term to describe the San Antonio Spurs during their series with the Golden State Warriors. I think that is a fitting term to describe the Spurs as well. They usually adjust to whatever happens during the game. I think much of the credit goes to their head coach Gregg Popovich.
If the Spurs manage to steal one of the first two games in Miami, I think they will win the series. Both teams have been great on their respective home courts. However, I think the Heat have a little more of a difficult time winning on the road compared to the Spurs. At least that is how it's gone during this year's playoffs. If the series goes to a game six or seven, Miami will have the home court advantage in those games, and I think that gives them a slight edge. San Antonio will have three straight home games, which is why I think it's crucial for them to steal one of the first two games in Miami.
If the Spurs are able to keep the games close, I think their chances of winning increases as well. I've noticed about LeBron James in closely contested games. He tends to become somewhat reckless down the stretch in close contests. He normally involves his teammates throughout the game, but that goes out of the window once Miami gets behind late. I see this series going one of two ways. I can possibly see the Spurs winning it all 4 games to 1, or the Heat winning 4 games to 2. If the Spurs are able to protect their home court, they should win the series. If Miami wins a game in San Antonio, they'll most likely take it. Both teams are good and well coached, so home court advantage will be a factor in this series. This series will be a chess match for sure. Again, these are just my predictions.
As I mentioned earlier, I'm rooting for the Spurs to win it all. I've been a fan of theirs since 1998, and I think it would be great to see Tim Duncan go out with one last championship ring. When the Spurs have won their previous championships, they managed to win them on odd numbered years(1999, 2003, 2005, 2007). This is another odd numbered year, so I hope that luck factors in as well. I hope everyone enjoys the NBA Finals.
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