Forecasting the Finals

NBA FinalsWith the Spurs starting their fifth NBA Finals tonight against Miami, several Project Spurs staffers as well as a few of our friends in the blogosphere and the media decided to try to analyze this series and make our predictions. Leave us your thought on the series and predictions in the comments.

Paul Garcia, Lead writer
As written in my Mega Preview, I just feel that the Spurs have too many weapons while the Heat are relying almost solely on LeBron. The saying is "the Spurs go as Tony Parker goes" and though Parker will have James on him at times, I don't feel the Heat can risk that maneuver too much or else Kawhi Leonard and possibly Manu Ginobili can take advantage of their defenders. Parker could have maybe one or two off nights, but I think with the series as a whole he's playing on another level and he's going to be able to run the Spurs' offense against a Top-rated defense in Miami just like he was able to do against a supposed Grizzlies defense. I think the Spurs split one of the two in Miami and finish off the series with three in a row in the AT&T Center.

Michael De Leon, Co-founder

While many will point out that this isn’t the same LeBron or Heat team, this also isn’t the same Spurs team everyone has been counting out for years. While not without their flaws, the Spurs have looked like a well-oiled machine the entire postseason, losing only two of 16 games. While the Heat enter the Finals with the best player and with home court advantage, the Spurs’ strength is in their entire unit and not just on a handful of players. Offensively, it’s pick your poison, and defensively, Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard will look to challenge James and Wade on the perimeter while Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter protect the rim. Aside from that, the Heat don’t really have an answer to Tony Parker. Teams have been throwing their best defenders on Parker all postseason and have still been unable to stop him. The Spurs are also as focused and hungry as I’ve ever seen them. They know what it’s like to be at the top and they have the coach an personnel to get back there in six games.

Chris Duel, TalkNowSA
It will go down as the greatest triumph of the Popovich/Duncan era. An epic matchup of Character vs Ego, Substance vs Flash and Good vs Evil. The Spurs come in healthy and 10 days rested. A split in Miami, followed by two of three at home before a Miracle in Miami to win Game 6. Spurs in Six.

Art Garcia, Fox Sports
The Spurs get a second crack at LeBron in the Finals, but this isn't the same LeBron we saw in 2007. He really is King James now. The Spurs counter with quite a few crowns on their side, plus they're a team. And this is San Antonio's last best chance, right? Spurs in 6.

John Karalis, Red’s Army
I've been saying all year that Miami will win it all again.

Until now.

The injuries to key players are too much to overlook. It evens the playing field to a point where the Spurs can exploit the weakness and win. They don't even have to bottle LeBron up to do it. I'm going Spurs in 6.

Kyle Boenitz, Staff writer/Spurscast host
Spurs in 6. It was really hard for me to convince myself LeBron James would lose a Game 6 at home, but that's ultimately what I settled on. I love the way the Spurs have been playing and have not been too impressed with the Heat. I think the Spurs move the ball well throughout the series and get a lot of open looks at the basket. I know Kawhi Leonard won't completely lock down James, but I think as a team, the Spurs are able to slow Miami down enough to out score them.

Aaron Preine, Staff writer
Spurs in 6. I'm calling a split in Miami and the first back-to-back losses for the Heat in Games 2 and 3. Tony Parker will raise his second Finals MVP trophy at center court of the American Airlines Arena. I like my predictions how like I like my coffee – Bold.

Miami has the best player in the universe but the Spurs trio of stars are healthier and well-rested. More importantly, Tony Parker is healthy and well-rested. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are both dealing with bad wheels, something Coach Popovich will exploit. The Heat will be playing against an offense far superior than the squads they went up against in the Eastern Conference side of the playoff bracket and one of the most adaptable defenses in the league. Miami has an incredibly fast and aggressive defense but they're going against a blitzkrieg of screens and cuts, not 48 minutes of straight isolation and post-ups. The Spurs offense is a deadly combination of speed and patience. They'll run you to death but they'll rarely throw caution into the wind. Miami's interior defense will be exposed, again, while Wade, Allen, Chalmers, Cole, and Battier chase a highly conditioned Spurs backcourt all around the floor. Remember, the Spurs role players are younger and, through the playoffs, have been far more reliable than the supporting cast of Miami. And I welcome the idea of James defending Parker for long stretches. I'd rather watch James trailing a quick point guard through a series of high screens than seeing that speed and athleticism rotating over. My only concern is turnovers and foul trouble, two things LeBron James excels at creating against his match-ups. San Antonio can't afford to see Kawhi Leonard riding the bench. When was the last time you could say that about a Spurs player with only 2 years of experience? (Hint: 21).

Jose Grijalva, Staff writer
Spurs in 6. Indiana's iso offense gave Miami trouble. SA's team offense with pick and rolls will wear the Heat's Big 3 out while Pop has Leonard play LeBron on defense with minimal help to stay with perimeter shooters.

Rey Moralde, The No Look Pass
It's become so close to call after both Conference Finals. We know that San Antonio's ball movement is the best in the league and that kind of movement is what destroyed Miami in the first place in 2011. But Miami is still more top-heavy than San Antonio is (I'm talking about the players here). I think Chris Bosh will do better in this series and Wade will play well enough to get by. Oh, and the Heat have LeBron James.

It's gotten to the point for me where I can no longer call it an upset if the Heat lose. But I'm still going to say Heat in six.

John Ledesma, 62in33
Miami in six games. The Spurs can beat the Heat by moving the ball around similar to what the 2011 Mavs did, but the Heat are better than in 2011, Lebron is more confident, everyone knows their roles and they are deeper. Spurs have the coaching advantage in Pop and their bench is one of the few that can keep up with the Heat.. That's why it wouldn't surprise me if they end up winning the title.

Trevor Zickgraf, Staff writer
Heat in 6: I tweeted a couple of day ago "Someone in 6," and I ended up going with the team with home court advantage and the best player on the planet. That's not to say I couldn't see the Spurs winning, I absolutely could. Their coaching and role players are better and we really don't know Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are going to bring, though I suspect Bosh at least is going to look pretty good. My dream for this series is the Spurs take down the defending champs in game 7 on Miami's home court. It's just tough to see the Heat losing four games out of seven to anyone.

Jesse Blanchard, Staff writer
The Miami Heat in 6.

When talent and system are relatively equal, and there isn't a glaring flaw present for a team to exploit and tilt the series in their favor, it's hard to go against the team with the best player and home court advantage.

In the Eastern Conference Finals the Heat leveraged these factors in a convincing Game 7 win. The flaws the Pacer exploited to stand on equal footing with the Heat aren't necessarily something the Spurs can exploit to the same degree.

It won't be a shock if the Spurs win, but the Heat should absolutely be favored.

Quixem Ramirez, Staff writer
Flipping a coin would be a lot easier than making your own prediction. But I'll still try to look smart anyways. I have the Heat winning in seven games, in large part because, simply, LeBron James is on the other team, though I'm pretty terrible with series predictions — its my odd way of subconsciously willing a Spurs victory, or at least influencing the series in their favor. But in all seriousness, I'm much more confident in James' ability to puncture the Spurs defense and find open shooters, many of whom are uncharacteristically missing shots in the playoffs, than Tony Parker's tall task of beating Miami's hyperactive defense. Don't get me wrong: Parker can get it done; he's pretty awesome at getting to the rim in his own right. He's just not James. And that is something the Spurs, even a team coached by Gregg Popovich, just can't account for.

About Michael A. De Leon

Michael founded Project Spurs in 2004. He started The Spurscast, the first Spurs podcast on the Internet, in 2005. Michael has been interviewed by the BBC, SportTalk, the Sports Reporters Radio Show, MemphisSportLive, OKC Sports Wrap and ESPN radio among others. He is a credentialed member of the media for the San Antonio Spurs and Austin Toros. He is also the founder of Project Spurs' sister sites, Toros Nation and Stars Hoops.

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