Heat, Spurs to battle in NBA Finals rematch...
After one of the greatest playoffs in recent memory, the NBA Finals are finally here.
This year’s matchup is one almost every basketball fan wanted: a rematch of last year’s outstanding Finals between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs.
The Heat won last year’s series in seven games, thanks to one of the greatest shots in NBA history (taken by Ray Allen, the greatest 3-point shooter of all time no less) in the waning moments of the now-legendary Game Six.
That game also featured a superhuman performance from 4-time league MVP LeBron James and an unheralded collapse from the ever-steady, machine-like Spurs.
The series had everything: last second shots, thunderous dunks, role players stepping up and future Hall-of-Famers playing brilliantly. Former Miami Heat player Mike Miller, now a Grizzly, even drained a shot while wearing one shoe.
This year’s series provides the veteran Spurs a chance at revenge. They were as close as you can get to winning an NBA championship last year without actually winning it. It could be the last hurrah for the quartet of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and coach Gregg Popovich, but people have been saying that about them for almost a decade now.
For the Heat, they have a chance to join the elite of the elite when it comes to great NBA teams. Only Bill Russell’s Celtics, Magic Johnson’s Lakers and Larry Bird’s Celtics had made four straight Finals appearances before the Heat joined them this year. Only Russell’s Celtics, Michael Jordan’s Bulls and the Shaquille O’Neal/Kobe Bryant Lakers have ever won three championships in a row. A win in the 2014 Finals would give the Heat a 3-peat, cementing their spot in NBA lore.
The consensus is that Spurs are slightly better than they were last year, thanks to the deepest, most versatile bench in basketball, and that the Heat are slightly worse. But when you have LeBron James, I think you can call it even.
James will need more help from Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh than he received in last year’s battle. The Spurs will rely on Kawhi Leonard more than ever, especially if Parker’s injury is serious.
This series is going to be extremely close, but with superb teamwork and a glint of revenge in their eyes, I think the Spurs will win the series in another seven game contest.