NBA Finals Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Miami Heat

980936_632903283395184_270978569_oSixteen teams started this journey and two remain, each deserving its chance at history, the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat.

  • Game 1-June 6 San Antonio @ Miami 9 p.m. (ET) ABC                                          
  • Game 2-June 9 San Antonio @ Miami 8 p.m. (ET) ABC
  • Game 3-June 11 Miami @ San Antonio 9 p.m. (ET) ABC
  • Game 4-June 13 Miami @ San Antonio 9 p.m. (ET) ABC
  • Game 5-June 16 Miami @ San Antonio 8 p.m. (ET) ABC
  • Game 6-June 18 San Antonio @ Miami 9 p.m. (ET) ABC
  • Game 7-June 20 San Antonio @ Miami 9 p.m. (ET) ABC

2013 Regular Season Match-up

  • Nov 29 San Antonio@ Miami 105-100
  • March 31 Miami @ San Antonio 88-86

Tim-Duncan-Spurs-Championship-Banners-1920x1200-Wallpaper-BasketWallpapers.com-All good things come to an end and the San Antonio Spurs understand that, so Gregg Popovich and company has put on what looks to be a last run at the NBA title once again and this time they meet up with the defending champions Miami Heat.

San Antonio Spurs’ road to the 2013 NBA Finals

The San Antonio Spurs made it look easy, sweeping the Lakers, tangoed with the Warriors and swept the Grizzlies. This has to look promising if you are a Spurs fan because heading into the Finals, your big three is healthy, your bench is solid and everyone is on the same page and well rested. The Spurs are the New England Patriots of the NBA, they have been a standard in the NBA for the last decade. Both coaches Gregg Popovich and Bill Belichick have a dark sense of humor and they don’t talk a lot. They do what they do best, WIN. The Spurs are also an amazing 4 out of 4 in the NBA finals coming away away with a trophy every time they have been there.

San Antonio Spurs Locker Room

The big three is healthy, Tim Duncan is playing like he was in 1999, Tony Parker just gets better every year and Manu Ginobili? Well…he’s Manu, enough said. Danny Green has showed why he deserves to be in the starting lineup, he has played stellar defense, spread the floor with his threes and facilitated at times. Kawhi Leonard has took over the defensive specialist position that Bruce Bowen vacated a couple of years ago. The Spurs run a 10-deep roster throughout the playoffs with Bonner, Diaw, Neal, Joseph and Ginobili. Blair and McGrady have seen limited playing time  and we know how dominant those two are if they are inserted into the game.

Why the Spurs can win

Experience, defense and selflessness. The San Antonio Spurs have all the ingredients to win another championship.They have the 11-plus years of experience from each of the big three. They have defensive intensity which doesn’t show on the stat sheet and they are unselfish. They share the ball more than other team in the NBA, and extra passes get your open shots and break down any defense. The Spurs just have to play Spurs basketball and they can win their fifth championship in franchise history.

Key Players to watch-Kawhi Leonard and Matt Bonner

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lebron-james-2012-nba-champion-trophyNot 1, not 2, not 3, not 4….not 8…At least he finally got one and now he shoots for two. LeBron James got the monkey off his back last season when he finally won his first NBA championship and has escalated his game to a whole new level with the left-handed hook shot and some low-post moves added to his arsenal.LeBron looks to lead the Heat to their third NBA championship in franchise history. 

Miami Heat’s road to the 2013 NBA Finals

The Miami Heat breezed through the first and second round of the playoffs but were challenged in the Eastern Conference finals against the Indiana Pacers who needed a signature 99-76 blow out victory at home in Game 7 . Since signing Chris “The Birdman” Anderson, their defensive intensity has increased greatly in addition to his ridiculous field-goal percentage.

Miami Heat Locker Room

Miami does not have any major injuries other than Dwyane Wade, who has had back and leg issues all season and just seem to not be the old Dwyane Wade we’ve been accustomed to seeing. Mike Miller and Shane Battier seem to be healthy. The Heat really just needs Ray Allen to be consistent on a nightly basis to stretch the floor and be a facilitator. LeBron can score at will and so can  Wade, they just need some additional run support and that might be a hard thing to do against the San Antonio Spurs

Why the Heat can win

L.E.B.R.O.N J.A.M.E.S. that name is the reason why they won last year and will be key to winning this year. Miami runs on James, but in order for them to defeat the Spurs, they will need Wade and Bosh along with the bench to step up and take away the double and triple teams from LeBron. Ray Allen and company have been a disaster during the Pacers series from beyond the arc but finally showed some good signs in Games 6 and 7. The Heat  also have a similar defensive specialist in Shane Battier who has been known to shut down great players, and we’ll look to see Battier match up with Ginobili or Parker and force them to take tough shots off the pick and roll.

Key players to watch-Shane Battier and Ray Allen

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Final Predictions

Spurs in 6

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Chin Tan

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Sports Activist for The Cover 4

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Heat of the Moment

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LeBron James has always been a love him or hate him figure in the NBA. You either love him and appreciate his greatness and dominance in the game, or you hate how he ditched his hometown team in Cleveland to join his friends/fellow superstars in Miami in pursuit of the easy route to a championship. The Miami Heat recently had their 27-game winning streak snapped and this streak was no different than the perception of James himself ─ either cheered on or rooted against despite the greatness. As polarizing as LeBron and Heat streak is and was, you cannot deny the excellence and that we may never see something like this again.

Too many times we as fans are “prisoners of the moment,” and make an event or an athlete bigger than it actually is because it is so fresh in our minds. For example, compared to Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, especially during the turn of the century, stood as the best golfer ever because of his dominance, fire and determination to win. Most Tiger fans argued that he was already better than Nicklaus and that he will eventually win the most majors. However, we could not fully appreciate Jack’s greatness because it was a relatively distant memory and no one could have projected the struggles Tiger would endure in the past couple of years. In the case of the Miami Heat 27-game winning streak, there seems to be a reverse effect lingering here. We are under-appreciating what the Heat just accomplished.

What the Miami Heat did by winning 27 consecutive regular season games has only been achieved once, when the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers won 33 consecutive games. And in that era there were only eight main teams in the league. All the superstars were piled onto fewer teams instead of being so spread out. The game was less evolved. Who knows what the Heat may have done back then or in the future. The bottom line is it is very possible that the Heat streak might never be done again. If we were told this as a fact, what would we then think?  Most of us, especially those who rooted for them to lose, would feel pretty stupid. As humans, we naturally appreciate something more once it’s gone and never coming back.

With the parity that exists in the NBA today, the Heat’s streak is a mind-boggling accomplishment, however it was not fully embraced due to the polarizing effect that LeBron James has had among NBA fans. In this sense, we were not and are not enough of “prisoners” of this moment.

Let us examine 27 games in a row in the NBA compared to other feats. To accomplish this at the highest level of competition cannot be understated. Maybe compared to high school and college winning streaks, it’s not as potent. However, let’s not forget that the Patriots had their 18-game winning streak snapped when they lost to the Giants in the Super Bowl in pursuit of a perfect season. 27 games represents one-third of the NBA regular season. Let me repeat. One-third! There are currently seven NBA teams entering April 9  that do not have more than 27 wins for the entire season and the season is virtually over. Congratulations to the Timberwolves, Raptors and Wizards. You avoided this embarrassing category with 29 wins for the season.

For the Heat, once they won 20 games, every game had the hype that is typically reserved for the playoffs. SportsCenter previewed every game as if it was a Final Four game. When has Dwyane Wade sitting out a home game against the Bobcats been such a big deal? For a mediocre NBA season in terms of storylines and great quality teams, the Heat streak has been the highlight of the 2012-2013 NBA season. It generated more attention and draw from basketball fans and non-basketball fans. It kept the defending champions interested and gave them an incentive to care about the regular season.
The streak ended fittingly on the road against the Bulls as the wind was taken out of the sails of the Heat. Many people were sad and upset because they wanted to witness history. Many people were happy because LeBron failed and did not get to notch another accomplishment under his belt. It would have been interesting to see the attention of a streak like this done by another NBA team. Maybe the Lakers or Thunder or even the Knicks would have received similar attention, but that’s it. The fact of the matter is that this streak was not glorified as much as it should have been because it involved LeBron James and the defending champion Heat. In a vacuum, however, this streak needs to be worshipped and praised for how amazing a feat it was. This streak may never be accomplished ever again in the NBA, maybe in any sport as well. The Heat streak may be over, but its legacy could last forever.

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Paul Culley
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