NBA Finals Preview

The San Antonio Spurs are greeted by President...

The San Antonio Spurs are greeted by President Bush duting their visit to the White House. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This Thursday, June 6th, the NBA Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat begin in South Beach, Florida, the home of the Heat. After escaping the clutches of the Pacers in game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Heat are poised to begin their title defense.

To do that, however, they are going to have to go through a Spurs team that has done this whole championship thing a time or two. For center Tim Duncan, he’ll be going for his fifth NBA Finals Title and the Spurs organization will also be going for its fifth overall.

While many have called the San Antonio Spurs old, and by looking at the roster they’re right, this team plays like anything but old. Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli, and Duncan have proven throughout this season that age is just a number. On ESPN SportsCenter, one analyst went as far to say that Tony Parker, when he was healthy, was the best point guard in the NBA this season.

Whether age plays a factor or not, the Spurs will be coming into this contest well rested. After sweeping the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference Finals, they’ll arrive in Miami on nine days rest. The Heat, however, will be playing on just three days rest.

There are pros and cons to playing on nine days rest. The pro is obviously that you can allow your team the time to heal and recover. The con would be that they may start off sluggish and it may take a couple quarters to get back into the swing of things and find their rhythm offensively.

On the flip side, the Miami Heat just finished up a grueling and physical seven games series and will be playing on just three days rest. They have had just a third of the time to prepare and recover. But, their basketball mindsets could be much fresher since their wait to play isn’t nearly as long.

Aside from the mental factors, these two teams are very evenly matched on paper. In the postseason, the Spurs have averaged 103.0 points per game compared the Heat who have averaged 102.9 point per game. The Spurs have averaged 41.3 rebounds per game while the Heat have averaged 38.6. The Spurs have averaged 25.1 assists per game and the have averaged 23.0.

It doesn’t end there.

Both teams shoot just under 50-percent from the field (Spurs – 48%, Heat – 49%), shoot between 75 and 80-percent from the free throw line (Spurs – 79%, Heat – 75%), and shoot just under 40-percent from behind the arc (Spurs – 37%, Heat 39%).

You may be thinking to yourself It’s like they’re the same team! But, you are oh so wrong.

The one thing that will give the Spurs the edge in this series can be summed up into one simple word: team.

As a collective unit, the San Antonio Spurs are better than the Miami Heat. For Miami, if LeBron isn’t the one making all the plays, the plays don’t get made.

After game five, James jokingly said that he felt like he was in his old Cleveland playing days again. Unfortunately, he wasn’t that far off. James having to be the main, well…only, guy in Cleveland is exactly the reason why he never won a championship there.

The Spurs have better depth than the Heat do. When Tony Parker needs a breather, head coach Greg Popovich can turn to Gary Neal or even Manu Ginobli. Matt Bonner, Boris Diaw, and Tracy McGrady are also three players that are waiting to have their number called.

On the floor, the Spurs have the likes of Duncan, Tiago Splitter, Kawhi Leonard, Parker, and Danny Green running the show. As a unit, those five have a certain flow about them that oozes championship.

When you look at the Heat’s bench, head coach Erik Spoelstra doesn’t have as many options as Popovich does. In fact, his two best options, Ray Allen and Mike Miller, can only shoot the three point shot and that’s about it. If the squad on the floor, usually consisting of Chalmers-Wade-James-Haslem-Bosh, can’t get the job done, the Heat are in big trouble.

Earlier in this post I mentioned how LeBron James wasn’t able to get the job done in Cleveland. Ironically enough, he’s got a chance this series to avenge his 2007 NBA Finals loss as a Cavalier to this Spurs team.

However, I don’t think that will happen. While LeBron James may have won the leagues MVP title, the Spurs would have surely won the leagues MVT (Most Valuable Team) title.

My prediction? Spurs win as a team and defeat the Miami Heat and win the NBA Finals Championship in six games, 4-2. Don’t let the 4-2 series win fool you, this Finals matchup could turn into one for ESPN Classic.

Game one is set to tipoff Thursday, June 6th, at 9PM EST on ABC.

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