The 2013 NBA Finals begin tonight. Here’s a breakdown of both teams as they get ready to compete for the Larry O’Brien trophy.
2013 NBA Finals Preview and Prediction
By Allyus Fritz
The San Antonio Spurs: One Last Opportunity
Each season they’re too old. Each season they’re too boring. Each team they play in the playoffs has an advantage over them because of this and that… but they really don’t. Defying age and critics seems to have become a favorite pastime for the men in black and silver.
The San Antonio Spurs are back in the NBA Finals. Here we go again.
The 2013 edition of the Spurs is a combination of renaissance men and youthful exuberance. The original big three are still there. Tim Duncan doesn’t put up the same numbers that he used to, but then again he doesn’t have to. Tony Parker is the most clutch point guard in basketball. Parker played magnificently in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals. He smelled blood and saw an opportunity to eliminate the Memphis Grizzlies. His 37 points and six assists essentially did so. And then there’s Manu Ginobili, who of course is still really good too. He also continues to sport the best bald spot in all of basketball.
Spurs Owner Peter Holt has kept the core together seemingly out of loyalty and confidence in their never wavering abilities. The rest of the team has changed. Names like Brent Barry, Bruce Bowen and Robert Horry have been replaced with Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Tiago Splitter. Leonard was traded for George Hill, which seems to have worked out for the Spurs and Indiana Pacers both.
The core may be the same, but the way the Spurs play the game has evolved. Coach Gregg Popovich consistently changes his tendencies to conform to his current players. If you think this is simple, maybe you should ask Mike D’Antoni. Many coaches can’t do this. Popovich does it every year.
Popovich uses spacing to continually get three point shooters Leonard and Green open. That combined with flawless ball movement and Parker makes the Spurs what they are. They attack before the defense is ready. The offense is no longer based around Duncan. He is an incredibly instrumental complementary piece, if there is such a thing.
Sports analysts will throw around words like legacy, history and reputation extensively the next few weeks. Will finally making the finals and losing ruin Duncan’s legacy? At this point he’s four for four. In 16 professional seasons he has made the finals over a fourth of the time. A title over the Heat would solidify a decade and a half of dominance.
Some may think San Antonio got a free pass to the finals this season. Injuries to Kobe Bryant and Russell Westbrook depleted the Western Conference. The Oklahoma City Thunder became the OKC Kevin Durants after Westbrook’s injury, crippling their chances of getting to the finals for a second straight year. We can assume that the Thunder would have beaten the Grizzlies if they had Westbrook, creating a Spurs and Thunder Western Conference Final. The Spurs very well could have beaten the Thunder, but we’ll never know.
We can’t live in a hypothetical world. The Spurs are in the finals because they deserve it. For those who believe the Spurs don’t belong, then the Miami Heat got a free pass last year when Derrick Rose tore his ACL in the first round of the playoffs. None of that matters now.
What we know is that the Spurs must do something that no team has done in two seasons: beat the Heat in a seven game series. Miami hasn’t lost consecutive games this entire postseason. San Antonio will not have home court advantage either.
With that being said, if there’s any team who has a chance to topple the King, it’s San Antonio. Popovich prepares better than any other coach in the NBA. Erik Spoelstra will have circles coached around him this series. The only question is whether or not Lebron James can be stopped.
If James is stopped, then San Antonio will win its fifth franchise title.
And who knows, maybe they’ll do it next year too. After all, they’ll definitely be too old next year.
Get the SportsFormulator.com predicted score for Game 1 of the 2013 NBA Finals here.
The Miami Heat – A King’s Destiny
There was once a team that was bought. It was called the Miami Heat.
Pat Riley, yet again wanting to leave his imprint upon the NBA, created a super-monster when he brought Lebron James and Chris Bosh to Miami. Add in Shane Battier and Chris Anderson, sprinkle in some homegrown talent with the names of Udonis Haslem, Mario Chalmers and Dwayne Wade, then acquire Ray Allen, and you have yourself a certifiable murder’s row of NBA stars. The Heat should win the title because they have the most talent by a colossal margin.
Then why is there skepticism?
The Indiana Pacers provided the San Antonio Spurs with a blueprint of how to defeat the Heat. The only thing the Pacers did wrong was lose Game 1, which wound up making all the difference. Until Game 7 Lebron’s supporting cast was scoring less than the 06-07 Cavaliers. Do you remember when Lebron basically had to do it all by himself? Oh, he’s still doing it all by himself? I guess that’s true.
The series should not have gone on as long as it did, even with Lebron going nuts. The Heat won Game 1 and then never won consecutive games the whole series. It didn’t seem like they felt the need to win if they were already up by one in the series. When the series was tied, the Heat came out with ferocity that no other team in the NBA can match. Why can’t they do that every game?
Bosh and Wade were both out of rhythm during the Eastern Conference Finals. Bosh was out of rhythm because Spoelstra doesn’t use him like he should, Wade because of a bum knee.
None of the criticism may matter in the end, purely because Lebron is that good. There are so many ways the Heat could be better, yet they are in the finals for the third straight year because Lebron is the greatest basketball player in the world. He can play all five positions, displaying versatility unmatched in the NBA. He finally has an outside game that matches his inside game. He is also no longer afraid of the moment, which may be the most important aspect of all.
There will be many times before and after the finals where the Lebron vs. Kobe vs. Jordan conversation will come up. Kobe and Jordan both would not have allowed the Pacers to hang around like Lebron did. They both have a killer instinct. Kobe and Jordan both want to eradicate the enemy (especially Jordan), not outlast them. Jordan would not have been high fiving Paul George. Jordan would have been in George’s face telling him how much he sucked. Until Lebron develops that killer instinct, he doesn’t compare. He also needs five more championships.
The Finals – San Antonio Spurs vs. Miami Heat
David Stern has got to be pleased with this matchup. Future hall of famers, the best player in basketball, the decade’s best team (along with the Lakers) versus the current best team, and ratings ahoy!
One of my main questions is how the Heat will they defend Parker. I don’t think any of Miami’s guards can stay with him. Chalmers will be his usual self, flopping around the court and being genuinely annoying. Allen is too old, Miller is ancient, and Cole is too unrefined. Wade is the only man who can do it, but we’ll have to see if he’s healthy enough. Of course Spoelstra can always put Lebron on Parker, which would work, however that would leave other players open.
I believe the key to this series is Bosh. His game changing performance in Game 3 against the Chicago Bulls is what broke Chicago’s spirit. The series was essentially over. Bosh 20 points and 19 rebounds reminded us that he really is an all-star caliber player. Spoelstra does not utilize Bosh like he should. If Bosh is allowed to play in the post and get hot, then the Heat can be a totally different team.
Bought vs. Built. Attention seekers vs. Attention Deflectors. Individuals vs. Team. High Maintenance vs. Low-Key. These two teams could not be farther apart in attitude. As much as I would like to pick the Spurs because of what they represent, I’ll have to see the Heat losing to believe it. As I mentioned earlier, the Heat had a problem closing out the Pacers, which is exactly why I think the series will go seven games. If Wade and Bosh get it going, the Heat are simply too talented. If they don’t, Lebron may need to carry the entire team on his back, which apparently he can now do.
Prediction: Heat in 7.
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