Thursday, June 6, 2013

Sportz' NBA Finals Pick

We're at the NBA Finals and I couldn't be more bummed.  We get the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs.

As a Lakers fan, the Spurs have been our biggest rival over the past 15 years.  Since the Jordan Era ended in 1998, the Lakers and Spurs have combined to win 9 of 14 championships and have represented the Western Conference in 11 of 14 Finals.  I respect them, but I don't want to see them match the Lakers five rings since 1998.

On the other side is the Heat.  I guess you could call me a hater.  I didn't like the way The Decision went down, though I cannot fault him for leaving Cleveland. I'm a fan of most of LeBron's game, just not a fan of LeBron. 

So this is a tough Finals to root for a team.  Usually there's a nice story, an underdog or a UNC players (well, the Spurs have Danny Green) that I will find myself pulling for.  Other than Green, I don't have that.  What I do have is what I like: two teams who are already champions that are fighting for another championship.  Usually ... especially in the NBA ... that means a very special series.

It is kind of rare nowadays.  The last time we had this was 2010 when the Lakers, who were defending champions, beat the Celtics, who won the title in 2008, in an epic 7-game series.  We got it 2005 when the defending champion Detroit Pistons lost to the San Antonio Spurs (who won it in 2003 and 1999) in ... yes ... a 7-game series. 

That has been it.  Before those series, you'd have to go back to those epic Magic-Bird matchups in the mid-1980s for battles between two former champions and we all know how special those series were.  So I figure this will be the same.  Neither will be scared.  Neither will get caught up in the moment.  Home court is honestly just a nice way to say where the game is being played and not some spooky deterent for the road team.

I'm not going to use this space to break down every matchup, every player, every minute detail or spout a bunch of factoids.  It is a series of ideals and wills.  That's it.

MIAMI:  One thing that works against them is that they've just come off a 7-game series with the physical Indiana Pacers.  They just had two days off while the Spurs have had 9-days of rest.  The Heat are younger, but Wade has been banged up and could've used an extra day or two to heal up.  One good thing is that they are done with the Pacers and Bulls.  Those two are matchup problems for Miami and the Heat struggled to dismiss both teams.  The Spurs aren't that kind of team.  Miami can get back to their "spread offense" of LeBron at the power forward, Chris Bosh at center, Wade at wing and a couple of shooters hanging out at the arc.  They couldn't against Indiana due to the Pacers size and that messed with their rhythm. 

This isn't to say that the Spurs are an easier matchup.  No.  But they do allow for the Heat to play Heat basketball and not have to play odd-ball lineups just to stay alive.  Ray Allen and Shane Battier will see more minutes in this series while Chris Andersen and Joel Anthony will not.

SAN ANTONIO:  Rest vs Rust.  That is the question when anyone gets an extended layoff between playoff rounds.  In the Spurs case, I'm not as concerned with it.  This is a veteran bunch who have been through this before and, let's face it, could use the rest anyway.  Tim Duncan and Tony Parker are playing at elite levels and Manu Ginobili can kill you at any moment.  They also have bodies to throw at LeBron, though none of them will stop him.  Still, it isn't like the Pacers who had to use Paul George, their best player, to guard him nearly the entire game. 

Also, this is a mentally strong team while Miami has shown, at times, to lack that.  Yeah, they are the defending champions, but we've seen LeBron cower in the 2011 Finals, Wade and coach Eric Spoelstra get into it in the 2012 playoffs and a bit of a power struggle between LeBron and Wade in the Pacers series last week.  And who knows where Chris Bosh's head is at after a horrible series with Indiana. 

WHO WINS:  Again, this should be a close series.  Home court means nothing as both these teams can win on the road.  Miami hasn't faced a big man as skilled as Duncan this postseason.  They haven't played a point guard like Parker.  These two will give Miami problems.  The Ginobili-Wade matchup will be something to see, too.

But on the other side, the Spurs dominated the Lakers and Grizzlies who aren't outside shooting teams.  The Warriors were, and the Spurs had a ton of problems with them.  Miami can be the same thing.  If the Spurs struggle to contain LeBron, he will find guys like Battier, Allen, Mike Miller, Wade and Bosh open for shots.  And those guys can knock them down. 

The Miami Heat will win this series in 6 games.

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