Found June 05, 2013 on Blog So Hard Sports:

Since none of the Blog So Hard team picked the correct finals match-up in our playoff predictions, it’s time to take another swing at things. The Spurs blew through the surging Grizzlies in the Western Conference Finals and sent them home in four games. The Heat/Pacers match-up in the Eastern Conference Finals was easily the best series of the playoffs thus far and saw the Heat winning their second straight conference title in as many years. While it’s not the Thunder/Heat match-up that 99.9% of the world was predicting, a Tim Duncan/LeBron James Finals rematch is not a bad consolation prize at all. Here’s who we got!   PASQUALE: Our matchup is set, and there is little surprise who the teams are; the constant San Antonio Spurs and the defending champion Miami Heat. While common opinion is that the Spurs are much older then the Heat, the average Heat player is in fact slightly older then the average Spur. That said, both teams have quality benches, with names like Norris Cole and Chris Andersen for Miami, and San Antonio’s Cory Joseph and Dejuan Blair. This series will come down to the big name players. The Spurs core of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker, along with newcomer Kawhi Leonard have been solid this playoffs, while for the Heat,  LeBron James continues to show why this is his league today, yet Chris Bosh has been erratic, and Dwayne Wade’s play has been outright scary at points this postseason. While LeBron can defend 1′s to 4′s, he can’t defend them all at once. The Spurs will steal the crown off Miami’s head in six games. CORY: As much as I was in favor of a Thunder/Heat finals re-match, this years Spurs/Heat Finals will be just as intriguing. We get to see arguably the two best players (Duncan and LeBron) of the last 15 years square off for the second time in an NBA Finals. This time around though, I don’t see Timmy sweeping LeBron as he did back in 2007. The Spurs have looked to be the best around all-around team of this years Playoffs as they have breezed through the Western Conference with a playoff record of 12-2. Miami looked dominant in the first two rounds by going 8-1, but when facing a team with size, they struggled. Struggled so much that the Pacers pushed them to seven games. As great as King James is, the best PF to ever play basketball will prevail with a 5th championship ring. I don’t know if they size that one for your thumb or not. Duncan is undefeated in the finals boasting a 4-0 record and I think he knows this is his best chance to add to his legacy. Also Tony Parker, the 07 Finals MVP, is playing the best basketball of his career. With a week of rest and a week of Coach Pop game planning, the Spurs will be ready to rock and roll tomorrow and for the next two weeks. It’s TIMMY time!!! San Antonio will split the first two games, win two at home, and close out in Miami in game six. Your 2013 NBA Champions will the be the San Antonio Spurs. TREVOR: We, as a nation, must come together as Spurs fans. According to a poll by SportsNation, that has already happened. My brother-in-law and his family are big Spurs fans, so that gives me an excuse to root for them, outside of wanting to see the Heat lose, right? Seeing all the bandwagon Heat fans on Facebook and Twitter call the team the HEATS just puts me over the edge. So with my clear bias stated, my prediction: I don’t think we will have to worry about David Stern fining the Spurs for resting too many players against the Heat this time around. There are several intriguing match-ups to keep an eye on during this series. The Heat had some trouble slowing down the inside presence of David West and Roy Hibbert, so it will be interesting to see how well Chris Bosh/Udonis Haslem/Chris Anderson do on Tim Duncan. Will the Heat deploy the full on double-team like they did in game 7 vs. the Pacers? The next biggest match-up I believe is going to be how well the Spurs can guard the best, most versatile player on the planet in LeBron James. Kawhi Leonard will be the lucky one who draws this assignment. He has the quickness and strength to slow LeBron down, but will be slightly undersized. He will get some relief from Danny Green at times who will also be undersized. And let’s be honest, nobody is going to stop James, they can only help to contain him. On the flip side of the match-up, not to take anything away from Leonard, but LeBron will get a semi-break on the defensive end. Kawhi’s role in the Spurs’ offense is more of a spot-up shooter and slasher then it is to make plays with the ball in his hands. LeBron will still have to be aware of the corner three and his driving ability, but it allows him to not have to expend all of his energy on the defensive side. Unless of course…. I think the biggest key to this series is going to be Tony Parker. I don’t see the combination of Mario Chalmers/Norris Cole being able to slow him down. He has been able to get to the paint and knock down mid-range jumpers at will. The Spurs will go as Tony Parker goes. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to eventually see the Heat switch LeBron over to try and slow Parker down. If that happens for the majority of a game, it will definitely be the most fun match-up to watch. I am just rooting for a good series. These are the two most efficient offenses in the NBA, and watching them in the finals should be great for hoops fans. My heart goes with the Spurs, but my head says Miami will win their 2nd championship in a row. I am taking the Heat in 7. I would have gone 6, but the 2-3-2 finals format makes me think the Spurs can push this thing to 7. DARREN: In a season with so many injuries to key stars and with so many unexpected results, it’s almost a miracle that we got ourselves such an evenly matched NBA Finals.  Spurs vs. Heat. Injuries We’ve seen countless injuries take championship caliber teams out of legitimate title contention this season.  With no Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, and Kirk Hinrich, the Bulls, the team many thought to be only team in the East to have what it takes to successfully knockout the Heat, in the end, had a roster that resembled a team that probably shouldn’t have even made the playoffs.  The Celtics, with their veteran experience and leadership, was supposed to make one last run, but then Rojan Rondo (at this point the Celtics best player) went down with a torn ACL injury.  The Pacers were missing Granger, and who knows, that could have made all the difference and we could be talking about a Spurs vs. Pacers Finals instead. In the West father time is finally starting to catch up with Kobe Bryant after 17 NBA seasons (yes you read that right, that’s almost 20 years, two decades).  Kobe suffered a season ending tear to his Achilles and the already struggling Lakers self-destructed.  Westbrook went down for the Thunder with a torn meniscus and Batman (Durant) couldn’t save Gotham without Robin.  Denver lost Gallinari and went from a legit dark horse to reach the Finals to a first round exit.  The Clippers have no injuries to use as an excuse as they simply just underachieved.  The fact that Vinny Del Negro was their coach was going to catch up with them eventually despite how much talent they have on their team (this coming from a Bulls fan so I know this first hand). So this season and playoffs was looking bleak.  What are the basketball gods doing we asked.  Well in the end everything ended up “working out” and we have the two teams in the Finals that at the end of the day probably had the best chance and were probably most deserving in reaching the Finals from their respective conferences. Predictions Because this is such a 50/50 series, I guess this is more about what each team needs to do in order win rather than a “prediction”.  On paper both teams are pretty evenly matched however I give the Spurs the edge because they have key advantages where the Heat show weaknesses.  That is in the front court, the point guard position, coaching and yes even the bench.  The Heat have the advantage in speed, athleticism, and of course the biggest advantage having LeBron James on your team. On paper I give the Spurs the edge because they are actually an all-around better team with one of the greatest coaches of all time running the ship.  So why is it such a tough call, such a 50/50 call?  Because, basketball is probably the only team sport where one player can make the most impact and almost win games all by themselves.  And when you have players with the abilities of LeBron James or a Dwayne Wade on your team, an explosion of basketball greatness can happen at any moment in any game and cause a turning of the tide in a series.  Couple that with the fact the Spurs have shown in the last few post seasons (for whatever reasons) of looking outstanding and arguably the best team in the league but then, like a flip of a switch, don’t show up and lose games and lose series and has one wondering what the hell happened. That’s why this is such a tough call, because it’s not about talent, experience, or execution because both teams are champions in those areas, it’s about what teams are going to show up.  If the same Spurs team we’ve seen all season and playoffs show up, Spurs win (because they match up well against the Heat in particular and can successfully exploit the Heat’s weaknesses).  If the Spurs do their best Jesse Eisenberg “Now You See Me” impression and start to disappear and LeBron smells blood, Heat win. I think after the past 3 or 4 seasons of the Spurs disappearing, I think they finally get it right again and Tim Duncan gets his farewell 5th championship and is considered the best basketball player of his generation. Spurs in 7. Related posts: NBA Playoffs: First Round Predictions Do We Really Want The Wizards In The Playoffs? If the NBA Playoffs Started Today, Here Are Your Match-Ups


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