NBA Finals Preview
After nine months of thrilling basketball, it has come down to two teams to fight for the title of NBA champion. The San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat will compete in one last best-of-seven series to determine who the top team in the NBA is. Both teams have persevered through various challenges, opponents and injuries to reach this point. Everything will be left on the court as both Miami and San Antonio look to hold the storied Larry O’Brien trophy. Here is my preview and prediction for the NBA Finals.
How they got here:
1st round: Defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 4-0
Conference Semifinals: Defeated the Chicago Bulls 4-1
Conference Finals: Defeated the Indiana Pacers 4-3
1st round: Defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 4-0
Conference Semifinals: Defeated the Golden State Warriors 4-2W
Conference Finals: Defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 4-0
Miami Heat: For the third straight season, the Heat finds themselves in the NBA Finals. This time around, it was an even tougher and more physical road to get back to the finals. After cruising to the conference finals, Miami was confronted with a tough, gritty Indiana Pacers team. They pushed the Heat around all series long, keeping them out of the paint, and out of rhythm. However, LeBron James and company were able to keep pushing forward and win game seven in Miami.
San Antonio Spurs: Some things just never change. After their 14th straight 50 win season, and 16th straight postseason appearance, the Spurs are once again playing in the NBA Finals. Led by the ever so familiar core of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan, San Antonio is playing their best basketball of the season. They recently swept the Memphis Grizzlies in the conference finals and will be well rested for Miami. The Spurs offense has been very efficient lately, shooting over 50% as a team in three of the four games against Memphis. San Antonio is one of the few model franchises in the NBA, and they have been for a long time. Head coach Greg Popovich has implemented an almost perfect, balanced system in which his players truly come together and play as a team.
Kawhi Leonard (Small Forward, Spurs) – Leonard’s growth as a player over the last year has been one of the keys to the Spurs winning games. He is an athletic, two-way player that will guard LeBron James for most of the series. He will need to keep the regular season MVP in check in order for San Antonio to succeed. Leonard, who has hit almost 42% of his three pointers through the first three rounds, will need to continue the strong shooting from behind the arc to keep the Spurs offense rolling.
Manu Ginobili (Shooting Guard, Spurs) – The Argentinian sharp shooter will need to regain his stroke if the Spurs are going to take home their fifth NBA title. Coming off a series in which he scored 9.8 points per game and shot only 36%, Ginobili will have to provide a much more efficient scoring punch off of the bench against Miami. The sixth man for San Antonio will be one of the most important pieces for the team, as he will be counted on to not only score, but guard Heat shooting guard Dwayne Wade.
Chris Anderson (Center, Heat) – The “Birdman” as he is known to many in the NBA, will need to provide a strong defensive presence inside for Miami in this series. Anderson’s main role will be to guard and disrupt the rhythm of Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter in the post during the 20-25 minutes he is out on the floor. Amazingly enough, Anderson has shot an astounding 83% on his field goal attempts during this years’ playoffs.
Dwayne Wade (Shooting Guard, Heat) – It’s surprising he’s on this list rather than someone like Norris Cole or Mario Chalmers. Based on his play in the conference finals, the two time champion is the biggest key player in this series. His knee injuries have been well documented during these playoffs, but against the Pacers, Wade looked like a man who had lost any confidence he had in his offensive game. He was timid, taking ill-advised shots and missing shots he usually makes. In order for Miami’s offense to flow, Wade will need to regain that confidence and shooting stroke.
Outlook: This will be a fun series to watch. These teams play slightly different styles, with the Heat preferring to give the ball to either James or Wade, and the Spurs priding themselves on ball movement. One of the biggest things to watch early on will be how San Antonio plays after 10 days off versus Miami, who has been playing basketball up till the finals. However, the big thing that does weigh in the Spurs favor is that they have been able to sit back, get healthy and watch every move and adjustment that the Heat made in the series against Indiana. Nothing will surprise Tim Duncan and company, and the Spurs will use their size and ball movement to keep the Heat off balance. Also, Duncan is 4-0 in the NBA Finals. It’s hard to pick against the Big Fundamental. San Antonio wins 4-2.
NBA Finals Schedule
- Game 1 in Miami: Thursday, June 6, (9 p.m.)
- Game 2 in Miami: Sunday, June 9, (8 p.m.)
- Game 3 in San Antonio: Tuesday, June 11, (9 p.m.)
- Game 4 in San Antonio: Thursday, June 13, (9 p.m.)
- Game 5 in San Antonio: Sunday, June 16, (8 p.m.)
- Game 6 in Miami: Tuesday, June 18, (9 p.m.)
- Game 7 in Miami: Thursday, June 20, (9 p.m.)