NBA Finals Preview - Heat Threepeat?
In movies, sequels are generally worse than their originals, but in sports, the opposite is true. The rematch is usually way better! The more teams play each other the more a rivalry grows and the competition becomes more intense.
Such is the case with this year’s NBA Finals, a rematch of last year’s championship series between the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat which the Heat won in an epic seven-game series that will be remembered as one of the best in basketball history. But who will take down the crown this year? Will it be King James earning a third title and solidifying his place among basketball royalty? Or will it be the Spurs winning their fifth Finals in the Duncan era and capturing the title of best post-Jordan franchise?
The Spurs are the wily veterans built around the Duncan, Parker, Ginobili trifecta, aging stars who keep getting written off as too old and slow to compete but just keep winning. Built on balance and consistency, the Spurs represent basketball at its most controlled, a beautiful harmony of ball movement and distribution that results in high-percentage shots and more often than not, wins. Besides the lockout-shortened season, the Spurs have won 50 or more games in every single season since they drafted Tim Duncan. Every. Single. Season.
The Heat are built around their own Big Three of Lebron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. They play suffocating defense and utilize "small ball" on offense to penetrate the paint and attack the rim or kick it out to one of their three-point shooters. The supporting cast isn't as strong as last year, but when you have Lebron does it really matter? People look at their high-octane offense and think that's how they dominate, but in reality it is their relentless ball pressure and non-stop tempo that forces teams to play Heat basketball.
Gregg Popovich is a basketball genius. Along with Spurs GM RC Buford he has assembled a roster that is greater than the sum of its parts and can adjust to any style of play while imposing their will on offense. Widely regarded as the best coach currently in basketball, Pop is known for two things: giving surly interviews and winning basketball games.
Spoelstra is a bit of an anomaly. He doesn't get the credit he deserves because people think that anybody with a pulse could win a ring with Lebron, but he is as savvy as any other coach in the NBA, except maybe Gregg Popovich,
Tim Duncan might be the best power forward to ever hit the hardwood. His no-nonsense approach has earned him the nickname The Big Fundamental and he is as consistent as they come. You have also got to think he is smarting from last year’s defeat, where Timmy missed an easy shot that could have gave the Spurs a shot late against Miami in Game 7. Of his backups, only Tiago Splitter plays a true big man role, with Boris Diaw and Matt Bonner actually playing more around the perimeter.
Will Tony Parker be healthy? Can Danny Green hit shots? Will Dwyane Wade be as effective in year's past? Can Mario Chalmers step up and be an impact player again after being a ghost as of late? A lot of questions in both backcourts.
A contrast in styles. The Spurs aren’t afraid to put any of their guys on the floor from their "Foreign Legoin". Players like Patty Mills, Matt Bonner, Corey Joseph and Boris Diaw all play significant minutes and contribute. Also, Manu Ginobili might be the best bench player of the last decade, immediately providing a spark when he checks in to the game. Miami also has some weapons off the bench, namely Ray Allen, but they are more there to allow Lebron and company to rest.
PREDICTION: The Spurs have their revenge and win a nailbiter in seven games.
Have your say!
Do you think Lebron and the Heat are going to win easily over the aging Spurs? Do you think the experience of San Antonio will trump the athleticism of Miami? What's your prediction for the NBA Finals? Let us know who you think will win and why in the comments section.