As an NBA fan, I wouldn’t want it any other way. This year’s NBA Finals features the two best teams in the league — Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs — and two franchises who have been in this position before. The Spurs know their window is closing, while the Heat are trying to become the first back-to-back champion since the Los Angeles Lakers did it in 2009 and 2010.
There are so many story-lines. The Spurs have won 4 championships since 1999 and are in the Finals for the first time since 2007 where they defeated—you guessed it—-LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
That was James’ fourth season in the NBA and while he was a great player then, he’s much better now. The now 4-time MVP will be seeking revenge for the ’07 Finals, where he failed to win a single game against the Spurs.
The Spurs have rolled through the 2013 NBA Playoffs thus far. In the first round, San Antonio swept the injury-riddled Lakers and followed that with a 4-2 series win over the Golden State Warriors. In the Western Conference Finals, they swept a Grizzlies team that many predicted would beat San Antonio. Now they find themselves in the Finals once again.
The Heat cruised through the first two rounds of the NBA Playoffs, ousting the Bucks in four games followed by the Bulls in five games. They ran into the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals and provided fans with a drama-filled series. The Pacers hung tough for six games before losing to the defending champs 99-76 in Game 7.
Game 1 should provide fans a start to one of the best NBA Finals, ever.
The Spurs will go into Game 1 with nine days of rest under their belt. Whether that is a good or bad thing is yet to be determined. However, you would think the days of rest could only help Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli further heal the injuries that plagued them throughout the year.
On the flip-side, everyone and their brother was asking, “what is wrong with Dwyane Wade” during certain games of the Eastern Conference Finals. Then Game 7 happened.
Although, Wade didn’t do anything out of the ordinary, he proved that he could still show flashes of his old self in big games. It is no secret that Wade is not 100% healthy and has struggled during these playoffs. But when the lights are shining the brightest, Wade always makes his critics and naysayers bite their tongues. Miami will need Wade to do what he did in Game 7 of the ECF against the Spurs for the Heat to win this series.
The Spurs should cause the Heat some problems inside. Although I don’t think they will impose their will on the Heat like Indiana was able to, San Antonio still has one of the best players to ever play the game in Tim Duncan. At 37 years old, Duncan has turned back the clock and showed us he is still one of the best big-men in the league today.
Chris Bosh will have to hit outside shots and pull Tiago Splitter or Tim Duncan out of the paint to give James and Wade the opportunity to get easy baskets. Foul trouble will be key. The Spurs can’t allow Duncan to get into foul trouble early.
I would expect to see LeBron on Spurs point guard Tony Parker for stretches during the game, especially when it is crunch time.
Prediction: Heat in 6
LeBron James is on a mission this year and I can’t see himself allowing to lose to the Spurs in the Finals for the second time in his career.
Dwyane Wade and Chris bosh will be determined to redeem themselves on the biggest stage the league has to offer. Bosh usually plays well against the Spurs and steps up when it matters most.
San Antonio has the ball movement and coaching to take down a team like the Miami Heat, but the Heat has the best player in the game and it would be hard to pick against him. Miami is bound to take at least one game in San Antonio and should close the series out at home in Game Six. It should be a great series.
Get ready for the ride.