Therefore, it makes sense to get the NBA Finals predictions from our rankers.
John Trifone: Heat over Spurs in seven games
The NBA Finals matchup appears a little less predictable than it has in recent years.
The East had been looking like a two-horse race for much of the season, but both the Pacers and Heat have been mediocre at best for the last quarter of the year. The Nets, as well as the Bulls, have emerged as a possibility to challenge for the Conference. The Raptors are the forgotten team, and most disrespected three seed in recent memory, but they, too, could be considered as in the mix.
The West has some terrific first-round match-ups, and although the Spurs, Thunder, Clippers, and maybe Rockets are favorites to come out of it, it really wouldn't be all that surprising if any of the other four teams were to make a run. Earlier in the year, I predicted that the Warriors would make the Conference Finals, but with Andrew Bogut out, that's a pretty big blow to their chances.
For my Finals matchup, I'm going to go way out on a limb and take the Heat and Spurs for the second year in a row. For a team like the Pacers to falter the way that they have, that shows real concern. I don't feel that's the case for the Heat, though. Miami hasn't been taking the end of the regular season seriously, and I'm confident that they will turn it on for the playoffs. San Antonio, on the other hand, has been the best team in the NBA for the majority of the year. The West is a real powerhouse, and although it's a lot tougher to predict than the East, I'll take the team that has been the most consistent, and done it before.
In the Finals, I'm going to take Miami to three-peat in seven games. I think it's a really even series, and I might actually favor the Spurs, but I'm less confident that they will make the Finals than I am with Miami. So I'm taking a repeat of last year with Miami in seven.
Sean Beazley: Spurs over Bulls in five games
I've changed my NBA finals pick multiple times during the year, and I am going to do it again heading into the playoffs. I am going to go with the chalk in the West and say that San Antonio will beat Chicago in five. The Spurs have the best coach in the NBA. They have by far the most depth, and their nucleus has the most experience. The Bulls are the best defensive team in basketball, and I think both the Heat and Pacers slip up before the Eastern Conference Finals.
Dan Yanotchko: Spurs over Heat in six games
I think this year's NBA Finals, will be a rematch of last year's epic showdown between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs are still alive and kicking, as most thought that last year would be their final in real contention, but they had a league-best 62 wins this year. The Miami Heat are limping into this year's playoffs, although most are speculating that they are sandbagging, and just waiting for the playoffs to start. This year, I think Miami is too banged up with Dwyane Wade not at 100%, and the Heat just do not have an inside big man to deal with San Antonio's length. This is the year that Tim Duncan makes that bunny lay up, and gets ring number 5 for the best coach in the league Gregg Popovich. Spurs will win in 6 games.
Kevin Hanson: Heat over Spurs in six games
There is quite a bit of intrigue with the NBA playoffs this year. The West is stacked; so much so that I wouldn't be surprised to see any of the eight teams emerge and represent the West in the Finals. Despite missing the playoffs in the West, the Suns have an identical record as the Raptors and Bulls, who are the third and fourth seeds in the East, respectively. As John noted earlier, it seemed to be a given that we would see a Heat-versus-Pacers Eastern Conference Finals, but that is no longer a lock with how those teams have struggled down the stretch.
While Kevin Durant deserves to win league MVP, LeBron James is still the best player in the NBA and the Heat know exactly what's needed to close the deal to emerge from the East as back-to-back league champions. (On a side note, I have the Bulls — not the Pacers — getting to the Eastern Conference Finals.) Perhaps in a bit of a surprise, I have the Grizzlies "upsetting" the Thunder and Clippers to advance to the Western Conference Finals as Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley have the Grizz playing well at the right time. Unfortunately, I see the Grizzlies losing a Game 7 at The Alamo as the Big Fundamental, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili get another shot for a title.
As much as I dislike (yet respect) Popp, I'll be rooting for Duncan and the Spurs. That said, I expect the Heat to make it a three-peat and win in six games.
- Check out our final 2013-14 NBA Power Rankings this season.
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