Tuesday, June 4, 2013

NBA Finals Prediction: Miami Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs (Trifone)

I had both winners of the Conference Finals, picking the Spurs and Heat to advance, but I had the quality of the series' flip-flopped.  San Antonio was the better team in all four games against the Grizz, a series I expected to be much tighter than it was.  The Heat, on the other hand, struggled much more than expected; not because the Pacers aren't a good team, but because the Heat had just been on another level.  Not only did they rattle of 27 wins in a row earlier in the year, but they were 8-1 in the playoffs going into the series, and seemed poised for another championship run.  Roy Hibbert, Paul George, and David West proved to be a pretty formidable Big Three, but ultimately, the Heat were able to dispatch of them in a lopsided Game Seven in Miami.

Much has been made of the long layoff that San Antonio has had between sweeping Memphis, and Game 1 of the NBA Finals coming up on June 6th.  Personally, I think the Spurs are a team that the rest will greatly benefit.  Last year, the Spurs were playing tremendous basketball, and I still have no idea what happened for them to lose four consecutive games to Oklahoma City.  This year, the Spurs did not have the same steam coming in to the playoffs, but they have clearly been the best in the West, and earned their trip to the Finals.  Tim Duncan seems to have found the fountain of youth, and at 37 is playing just about as well as he ever has, which is certainly saying something, considering he is thought of by most to be the best power forward in NBA history.  Tony Parker is also back to the MVP form from early in the year.  For the Spurs, this will be their fifth Finals appearance in the Duncan-Poppovich era.  They won all four previous trips, with the most recent title coming against LeBron James and the Cavs.

The Heat have been the team with a target on their backs the entire year.  They are the defending NBA Champions, and have had to take everyone's best shot all year long.  Although they have had lingering injuries, specifically Dwyane Wade, for much of the year, and an aging cast of shooters who did not really show up in the Eastern Conference Finals, Miami found a way to get back for the third consecutive year.  Since joining the Heat, LeBron is 3/3 in Finals appearances, and could become a champion for the second year in a row.

In many ways, this series is a referendum on LeBron's place in history.  Many analyst's have defended LeBron, saying that his supporting cast has been as bad, if not worse, than the one he had in Cleveland.  History, however, is not going to remember that supporting cast in the same way.  As good as Wade, Chris Bosh, Ray Allen, Shane Battier, etc. have been, none of them are going to be compared to the elite of the elite, and talked about in the discussion for the GOAT.  For LeBron, however, not getting a ring, for ANY reason, is going to be in paragraph one of his bio when all is said and done for him.

I think this has the makings of a fantastic series, and it's a matchup we really haven't seen.  In the two games that the Spurs and Heat played this year, San Antonio rested all their big guns in Miami, and the Heat did the same thing on the road at San Antonio.  I'm expecting a back-and-forth series, but I think that ultimately, LeBron and Miami will be up to "not two" as far as championships go.  The Pacers defense exposed some of the Heat's flaws, but they were still able to make adjustments and advance.  I don't see the role players like Allen and Battier to be as bad as they were against Indiana, and D-Wade showed us in Game 7 that he still has something left in the tank.  Bosh was mentally defeated by West and Hibbert, but will get a fresh start against Duncan and the Spurs.  It is going to be another tall task, but I think he will fare better.

And at the end of the day, the Heat have a weapon that no team in the league has.  LeBron is as intelligent of a player as there is in the league, and his ability to  be either Magic or Michael, depending on what the team needs, gives them an advantage that is tough to counter.  If anyone can figure out a way to stop him, it's Pop, and I'm looking forward to the coaching matchup as much as anything else.  But at the end of the day, I'll take LeBron and the Heat in 6.

Prediction: Miami Heat in 6 Games

[Note: This post is from John Trifone.  See his other basketball posts here and/or follow him on Twitter @JohnnyT0122.]

No comments:

Post a Comment