The Spurs have been on a tear lately, going 20-0 in their last 20 games. These 20 victories include series sweeps over the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Clippers, as well as convincing victories in Games 1 and 2 of their Western Conference series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Miami Heat have also completed Game 1 & 2 of their conference finals series with the Boston Celtics.
Both Eastern and Western Conference Finals series head back to the lower-seeded teams’ home courts for Games 3 and 4 in Boston and Oklahoma City, respectively.
Ah, all of a sudden, the task doesn’t seem so easy for the favored Spurs and Heat.
The Thunder fans are real hyped fans. What would you expect from a state whose entire population is currently stir crazy waiting for college football to start? Seriously, what else is there? (See also: Jazz fans).
Both the Spurs and Heat have had to overcome being behind late in a game and overcome deficits to earn the win. Alternately, they have each cruised for a dominant victory.
Spectacular as each team is, the Heat and Spurs both have chinks in the armor that have been exposed at one point or another in these playoffs.
For the Heat, interior play has been absolutely key. With the injury suffered by Chris Bosh early in the second round against the Indiana Pacers, the Heat’s defense against the low post and rebounding has been a cause for concern. The Pacers were able to take advantage of the deficiency in Games 2 and 3 of that series and earned W’s against the favored Heat. Of course, Dwyane Wade‘s struggles to score were no small factor either.
LeBron James has produced consistently the entire postseason, averaging 29.6 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game. Dwyane Wade, more than any other Heat player, determines the outcome of games. When he plays well, he compliments LeBron’s contributions and victory is imminent. When Wade plays poorly, LeBron finds himself in the same scenario as rookie Michael Jordan, who scored 63 points against the Celtics in 2 OT in a losing effort.
The Spurs are the epitome of “team basketball.” Their crisp passing and intelligent play has been frustrating the last 20 teams San Antonio has faced.
Tony Parker, who is averaging 20.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 7.1 assists per game in the Spurs’ “sweep-fest” is clearly the most valuable Spur at this point. He and Tim Duncan are the strongest contributors on the team with great production out of Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard and others. It appears the only thing that can stop the Spurs is either Father Time as the games move forward, or the offense missing jumpers and letting the opposition go on the fast break.
The Thunder and Celtics both have their backs to the wall and will look to defend their home courts in order to steal one on the road. You can bet if the Spurs or Heat can get just one win on the road over the next two games, it’ll be a Spurs/Heat finals.