BOOM Must Read NBA Finals Preview Mere Hours Before Heat V Spurs Round Two, Baby!!
Here’s a little something Mr. Basketball cooked up for you basketball fans! Gold I tell you, gold! If you don’t have metaphorical basketball boners by the end of this, in anticipation for this historic matchup that’s about to take place… I think it’s fair to compare you to one of the Heat fans that left pre-Ray Allen dagger in Game 6 last year.. But I digress…
Mr. Basketball –
How spoiled are we?
Last year’s NBA Finals was among the best of the last twenty years (and probably the best Finals since I started watching the NBA Finals in 2000). We (NBA fans) were treated to three instant classics (Games 1, 6, and 7), and witnessed perhaps the single greatest shot in NBA history, Ray Allen’s game-tying, season saving, legacy-altering three-pointer. (EDITORS NOTE: No Heat Fans Witnessed Said Three-Pointer) For seven games, we watched chess disguised as basketball. And now we get to do it all again. Here’s a brief breakdown of each team’s accomplishments this season, what’s at stake in the Finals, and a prediction from yours truly.
First, let’s address the Spurs. Their response to losing Games 6 and 7 last year in Miami was to have the best record in the league without a single player averaging 30 minutes a game. Gregg Popovich won his third Coach of the Year award, and they reached the Finals again by playing their best basketball against the team that’s had their numbers for the better part of three years, the Oklahoma City Thunder. Whether a healthy Serge Ibaka from the outset of the series would’ve made a difference is a conversation that I don’t really pay attention to. Injuries are a factor in every sport, every single year. The Thunder lost. Let’s move on.
The Spurs are trying to win their fifth title of the Duncan-Popovich era and the fourth of the Duncan-Parker-Ginobili era. Duncan has a chance to win a title in three different decades, and win NBA Finals MVP fifteen years apart. Duncan is already the greatest power forward ever, but a fifth title would allow him to ride off into the sunset just like David Robinson did before him and cement him and Popovich as one of the great coach-player pairings in the history of North American sports.
The Heat, being the two-time defending champs, spent the regular season in fourth gear, allowing the Pacers to win the No. 1 seed in the East, never truly concerned about getting back to the Finals. They were hardly challenged as they sauntered through the East. And for the record, the Pacers had a legitimate shot to beat them if they played the way they did for the first two months of the season, particularly Paul George. Their astonishing lack of mental toughness and maturity (with the exception of David West) was utterly exposed in the conference finals. Thus, the Heat are trying to become the fifth team in NBA history to three-peat (Mikan’s Lakers, Russell’s Celtics, Jordan’s Bulls twice, Shaq and Kobe’s Lakers).
As has been stated repeatedly since their Game 6 trouncing of the Pacers, the Heat are the first team to appear in four straight Finals since Larry Bird’s Celtics from ’84-’87. Of course, had Michael Jordan not taken almost two years off to play minor league baseball, the Bulls would’ve had a chance to make eight straight Finals appearances, but that’s a debate for a different article. Lebron is trying to win his third ring, third Finals MVP, and put to rest any remaining doubters that he is the best small forward ever (ahead of Larry Bird).
Finally, some thoughts on Heat-Spurs 2.0. Just like last year, it will be a series of adjustments and protecting the rim. The Spurs will try to wall off the paint against Lebron, and the Heat will attempt to protect the rim as a team rather than with a dominant big man. The Spurs have Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard to throw on Lebron and Dwyane Wade, while the Heat will put Lebron on Tony Parker in key situations and stick Chris Bosh on Tim Duncan. The Heat will miss Mike Miller and his long range sniping, but the Spurs will not miss Gary Neal, as Patty Mills has sufficiently replaced him in the rotation.
Wade and Ginobili are both healthier and playing significantly better than they were a year ago, but Tony Parker is still recovering from an ankle injury that he suffered against OKC.
Unlike a year ago, the Spurs have homecourt advantage, but for the first time since 1984, the Finals will revert back to the 2-2-1-1-1 format (a great decision by the way), which lessens the advantage for the home team, meaning the Heat would take a 3-2 lead back to Miami rather than having to win either Game 6 or 7 in San Antonio.
As a diehard NBA fan and someone who considers himself very knowledgeable when it comes to predicting series (granted the NBA is the easiest of the four major American sports to predict, by a significant margin), I have no earthly idea who will win the 2014 NBA Finals. The Spurs have homecourt and probably have the better team, but the Heat have the best basketball player alive. In the end, I went with my heart: Spurs in 7. If ever a team deserved one last title at the end of a dominant era, it’s this Spurs team.
Bonus prediction: Kawhi Leonard wins Finals MVP (keep in mind that he’s my favorite player in the league and I’m wearing his jersey as I write this article, so I’m not totally objective on the matter). But no matter who wins these Finals, the real winners are all of us, the fans. This is going to be the equivalent of basketball pornography for either 6 or 7 games, featuring six or seven future Hall of Famers (Lebron, Wade, Ray Allen, Duncan, Parker, Ginobili, and possibly Bosh) and two of the NBA’s all-time starting five. In basketball terms, it truly doesn’t get any better than this.
How spoiled are we?
EDITORS NOTE: I searched ‘Heat Fans Are Pussies’ and this shot came up