Our staff and a few local media members make one last set of predictions for the 2013-14 season.
Who will win the NBA Finals? In how many games?
Look for their predictions for the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat rematch in the NBA Finals, starting tonight.
Michael De Leon
While the 2013 NBA Finals provided us with the most competitive Finals series in recent memory, I don’t see this series topping last year’s, except in the minds of Spurs fans. The Spurs and Heat are both different teams than they were last year. This time I think the Spurs have improved, and Miami has gotten older and lost a key rotation player, as Paul Garcia pointed out recently. The Heat will get their first real test of the postseason and with an improved Kawhi Leonard hounding LeBron James all over the court, the Spurs’ foreign legion having a sizable advantage over Miami’s second unit and a healthy Manu Ginobili, this is a different series. If Tony Parker can stay healthy and penetrate through Miami’s defense, this could end in 5. My safe bet is Spurs in 6.
Delving into the numbers, the Spurs and Heat have some oddly similar playoff statistics. The Spurs are +8 in point differential. Miami is +7. Miami is shooting 50% on field goals, 40% from three. San Antonio is shooting 48% and 39%, respectively. Both teams are forcing 13.7 turnovers per game, while SA commits 12 turnovers per game and Miami commits 11. If we dig a little deeper, only four players have a total +/- over 100 in these playoffs: Kawhi Leonard (+111), LeBron James (+107), Tim Duncan (+106) and Danny Green (+103). The numbers go on forever and further prove these are the two best team remaining. Now let’s get bold.
This isn’t the same Heat team that didn’t lose consecutive games for about 7 months last year. Miami, while efficient and still tough, is painfully slow and doesn’t rebound well. In the playoffs, Miami only averages 10.1 second chance points per game and 9.3 fast break points per game. The Spurs have lost ONE home game all playoffs long: Game 2 versus Dallas. In their home playoff wins, the Spurs are winning by nearly 20 points per game. And with the new 2-2-1-1-1 format, having a Game 5 back home could be a huge motivational factor for San Antonio to close out as quickly as possible, instead of dealing with another Game 7. Call me crazy, foolish, ballsy, whatever. I’ll pick the Spurs in five. No disrespect to the Miami Heat and their fans, but the Spurs have been on a mission since training camp. They’re not going to let their past haunt them. And if they do, I welcome everyone to invade my Twitter mentions with insults.
The health of Tony Parker’s ankle and hamstring will be a major concern in this series. He needs to be the engine that drives the Spurs offensive machine. Manu Ginobili must be Super Manu in most of these games, although we’ve seen his game-to-game performances can be erratic. Tim Duncan’s fire for redemption may prove to be the deciding factor. Can Danny Green and the Spurs’ 3-point aces hit their shots in Miami? The Heat have been to four straight NBA Finals for a reason. Forget the easy argument that the Eastern Conference is weaker than the West. The Heat are our modern day equivalent of the Jordan-era Chicago Bulls. Dethroning them will take a Herculean effort from the Spurs. While it would be poetic justice for the Spurs to win the series in Game 6 in Miami, I think this one goes the distance in a heart-stopping Game 7 classic. Spurs in 7.
Spurs in 5. The biggest reason for my pick is the Spurs’ depth. In the playoffs, the Spurs’ bench is outscoring the production of the Heat bench by roughly 13 points per game. When you look at how each bench fared in the Conference Finals, the Spurs’ bench put 16 more points on the board than the Heat bench.
When making this pick, I had to go by my logic with the Spurs beating the Thunder in 5. I still believe they had the series in 5 if Pop made the necessary adjustments instead of hoping Ibaka’s calf would limit his production in Game 4. The Heat are definitely not as bad of a matchup for the Spurs as the Thunder were because the Thunder were young and athletic. The Heat are the opposite as they can put a shooting lineup on the floor but are extremely slow in that respect and slower with their traditional lineup. I have to go with my logic that I had with the Thunder and with the Spurs facing a more favorable matchup in the Finals, I have to pick Spurs in 4.
I thought Tim Duncan willed SA past OKC in OT to get here and they are as determined as I have seen them. the health of Tony Parker is a concern, but that is offset some because of Manu, who has his mind and body right. I think Boris and Kawhi will be huge as San Antonio goes back to Miami and get what they left on South Beach last year. Spurs in 6.
’ll be foolish with my prediction. More gut than brains though I’ll do my best to justify the selection. LeBron James is the best basketball player on the planet, there is no reasonable argument against that statement. And in this series, LeBron will do everything he needs to do to ensure his team a third straight title. The problem is, the rest of his team won’t. An important shooter in Mike Miller is gone, Shane Battier is a shell of himself, and the average age of the active playoff roster around the Miami Big Three is 32.6. The combo of Bosh/Haslem/Anderson will not be as effective this time around against a more versatile Spurs roster. Miami plays slow and small and the Spurs have proven that isn’t the best of ideas against them. Can the Heat go from one of the slowest paces in the NBA to an up-tempo form? I know LeBron can but I’m not so confident the majority of his teammates can over a seven-game series. Superstars can only put their team in the best spot to win a series, the remainder of the cast need to play their part to seal the deal. Some people will throw out the fact that Miami’s offense is on fire this post-season (top in offensive efficiency). Let us recap their playoff run: A wildly inconsistent (and overrated) Charlotte defense, a pathetic waste of $183 million, and then a six game series versus a team that was in the midst of a historical mental collapse. Color me unimpressed. Manu is playing exceptional better this post-season, Tim Duncan is seeking blood, the ball handling off the bench has improved, and Kawhi Leonard is still ascending as a star in this league. Tiago Spliter? He’ll likely come in for Duncan like he did in the previous two games because of the matchups. I’m banking on Tony Parker’s ankle being a non-factor. The long layoff between series and the stretched Finals schedule should play in his favor. If it isn’t enough, he’ll be so loaded up on Toradol shots his shoes might start singing to him. I will say this though – If Tony is absent this series, the Heat will win a dogfight.
But I’m a fool and I’ll run with a foolish pick. Spurs in 5. King James be damned.
The first Finals rematch since 1997-98 pits the league’s two most efficient and ruthless offenses in the postseason. Miami, even against weaker competition, played 10 of 15 games against two top six defenses. Their offense is humming, LeBron is LeBron and Dwyane Wade has rediscovered himself in the postseason. They’re dangerous, but the Spurs just finished beating three Western Conference opponents by a combined 144 points. Spurs in six.
Every San Antonio Spurs fan you talk to will state that this is what they were hoping for. The San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat once again are going to be fighting it out to see whom will be crowned the Champions of the NBA.
Everyone is talking about Redemption for the Spurs. This is true. The way their season ended last year in the Finals, simply put, it left a bad taste in their mouths. Rolling through the season and capping off the number one overall seed throughout the playoffs, the Spurs wish has simply come true.
Rematch against the Miami Heat. We could all be sitting here right now and discuss the Spurs possibility of a back-to-back title. Its done, in the past. Now in front of them is this challenge. The Heat knows that San Antonio was gunning for them, they had a mission. That mission is almost complete.
With the Spurs grabbing the home court and seeing that they will only be away from the AT&T Center for just three games this series, it will be very important that they go into Miami and take one game, possibly two (sweep?). The Spurs do though have to take advantage of home court and get their business done at home.
This team is as good if not better than any other of the Spurs four championship teams. The depth on their bench is where I see will carry them through the finals. If San Antonio continues their dominance which they have done at home this postseason, I can see them winning this in five.
Timmy and the Spurs are not alone. THIS is the rematch we all wanted. Basketball at its finest. Two teams led by pantheonic players. So many variables will determine outcomes of games in the final minutes: Officiating crews. A tipped pass. Missed free throws. Clutch baskets; made AND missed. Irony of 2-2-1-1-1 Finals format mean for the trendy fans pick, Spurs in 6, to happen, only means SA has to return to Miami and the Game 6 Scene of the Ray Allen Crime and win. That’s not happening. What else isn’t happening? Duncan and the Spurs losing another Game 7. Not at home. Get your cameras ready… This is going to be EPIC. Spurs in 7.