Conference Finals have finally ended, and the final series of basketball is upon us. It is the NBA Finals, and it just so happens to be a rematch from last year, pitting the defending champion Miami Heat against the San Antonio Spurs. As many basketball fans remember, the Spurs were just a minute away from winning the series in Game 6, but a last-second surge allowed them to get back into the game and win, and then they went on the win Game 7 and the series. The Spurs are looking for revenge, and veteran leader Tim Duncan has already guaranteed that they’re going to get that revenge, something that Duncan would never normally say.
— NBA (@NBA) June 2, 2014
LeBron James is also looking to continue paving his way to immortality in the likes of the NBA, appearing in his 5th NBA Finals and looking for his 3rd ring. The Heat themselves are in their fourth straight finals and have won it the past two years. If they win again this year, they can easily be declared one of the best NBA dynasties ever.
And while this year both teams have essentially the same players, it’s totally different. The Spurs are hungrier than ever this time and won’t let the championship slip away from them without a fight. They have proved that they don’t even need their top players to all play well to win a game, even when it’s against one of the best teams in the league. Their bench plays a huge role in their style of play, more than any team in the league.
Spurs enter the NBA Finals leading all teams in bench scoring this postseason (42.7 PPG). 2013 playoffs, Spurs ranked 6th in bench scoring
— John Buccigross (@Buccigross) June 2, 2014
These two teams faced each other twice during the regular season and the home team won both times. And the strange part was that neither game was particularly close…their first game, which was in late January, was a 12-point win for the Heat. It was a Spurs-esque game for the Heat in which their bench production played a big role in the win, especially with Dwayne Wade coming off the bench that game. The second matchup was in the beginning of March, and it was a 24-point win for the Spurs. Kind of strange that there was such a large range between the outcomes, huh?
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) June 2, 2014
Well the Western Conference Finals certainly featured some blowouts for both sides, but I really doubt that will be the case in this series. There’s no doubt that these are the best two teams in basketball, and I would be surprised to see it end in any less than 7 games. While the Heat are the champs from last year, they’re the lower seed and have the odds against them- literally. The odds have the Spurs winning the series. This is no way means the Heat will just lay down.
There has been speculation about the Heat Big Three leaving at the end of this season for over a year, and the outcome of this year’s finals might play a role in it. If the Heat win the championship again, then why would they ever opt out of their contracts and go elsewhere? If they’re still dominating to this extent, it only makes sense for them to stay together. But if they lose…could they break apart? To be honest, I have a hard time seeing them break up either way, but it’s always an option.
James wants this championship more than anyone else in the series as he continues to build his resume as one of the best players in NBA history. Number of championships plays a big part in the discussion of the GOAT, and a third ring would make the LeBron argument even stronger. Even though he didn’t win the MVP this year, he has still been playing out of his mind. That drive alone could be enough to propel the Heat to another championship.
Sources: Despite ankle sprain, Tony Parker and Spurs hopeful point guard will be ready for Game 1 of Finals. http://t.co/070JsRKZrQ
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 1, 2014
But then on the other side is the Spurs, who have been an even greater dynasty in the past 15 years. They have the best coach in the league and arguably the best overall team in the league. How many times have the Spurs just sat their starters for a quarter at a time, or sometimes even the whole game, and still won? Countless. People like Boris Diaw, Patty Mills, Marco Belinelli, and Matt Bonner can all step in as starters if necessary and take over a game. But if the stars like Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobli are on point, then those guys can fall back into their place as role players and still help the team win. Then they have x-factors like Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, and Tiago Splitter that are the future of the franchise. When the Duncan/Parker/Ginobli trio is done in the league, those three guys could easily be the new face of the franchise and lead them to many more successful seasons (and even some championships).
The Spurs play as if their players are replaceable parts; not in the way that nobody is that important, but in the idea that if one player goes down, another can easily come in and do well. It’s because Popovich’s system is better than anyone else’s. Is that going to be enough to beat the Heat though? Well…
The problem is, like I said before, the rosters are basically the same, and both teams are in similar situations. Will it be an excellent series? I definitely think so. But will the outcome be any different than last year? I’m thinking no. Final prediction: Heat win in 7 games.