NBA Playoffs 2013: Ranking Each Potential Finals Matchup
USA TODAY Sports
There are four potential NBA Finals matchups, each with intriguing storylines and a wide variety of talent. But which scenario would be the best?
Entering Friday, the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs were each three games away from meeting in the NBA Finals for the first time ever. The Heat are looking to make it back-to-back championships while the Spurs are giving it one last go before Tim Duncan and Tony Parker can’t run up the court any longer—although they don’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.
Meanwhile, both the Indiana Pacers and Memphis Grizzlies entered Friday a game behind each of their opponents. Neither team has ever won an NBA title, but the Pacers did make an appearance back in 1999-00 before falling to the Los Angeles Lakers in six games. Before this season, Memphis had never made it past the Western Conference Semifinals.
No matter which way each conference final plays out, we’re in store for some great basketball in the coming weeks. Let’s take a look at which potential NBA Finals showdown would be the best, analyzing each and seeing what happened during the regular season.
No. 4: Miami Heat vs. Memphis Grizzlies
Season Series: 1-1 Tied
If the Miami Heat and Memphis Grizzlies were each to win their respective conferences, the NBA Finals would likely be all about three pointers. That’s assuming that it’d be anything like the pair of games between the two during the regular season.
Two games is far from a reliable sample size, but during the year, whichever team was better from three-point range turned out to be the victor. But I’m not talking about making a couple of shots from deep and calling it a night.
When the Heat went to Memphis, they struggled from deep, hitting just 4-of-15 attempts. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies were on fire from downtown, hitting 14-of-24. Wayne Ellington was unreal that November night, hitting seven three-pointers and finishing with 25 points in 27 minutes.
Miami, however, knew what to prepare for the next time around and defend Memphis well. The Grizzlies only drilled four of their 13 three-point attempts.
Oh yeah, and the Heat decided to play some three-ball of their own. Shane Battier connected four times while Ray Allen, LeBron James and Mario Chalmers each hit a pair.
Needless to say, a Heat-Grizzlies NBA Finals showdown could turn out to be a shootout. Miami was the second-best three-point shooting team in the league this season, percentage points away from the Golden State Warriors. Memphis was 24th.
Does this mean that the Heat would definitely taken down the Grizzlies? Absolutely not, but the Heat might have an edge if the two were to meet again.
No. 3: Indiana Pacers vs. San Antonio Spurs
Season Series: 2-0 SAS
The Indiana Pacers might be in trouble if they win against the Miami Heat and have to take on the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs are the definition of experience in the postseason and, well, the Pacers don’t have much of that at all. It was experience that seemed to be the difference-maker when they faced off earlier in the year.
The Spurs were incredibly hot to start the season and ran the Pacers right out of the building in early November. If a 22-point victory isn’t impressive then I’m not sure what is. Five players finished in double figures for the Spurs while the Pacers shot just 34.2 percent from the field.
Indiana thought it had its revenge over San Antonio when the Spurs came to visit, but they were wrong again. The Pacers held a 70-53 lead midway through the third quarter, but the Spurs would erase the deficit and come all the way back to defeat Indiana by seven points.
The Pacers are a different team now, though. They’ve grown as a team over the course of the season and have turned themselves into serious title contenders, with players who should be able to help make deep runs for years to come.
Indiana would still need to be at its best to top San Antonio. Although the Spurs are much older than the Pacers, San Antonio consistently plays smart basketball, which is why they’ve been so successful over the years.
No. 2: Indiana Pacers vs. Memphis Grizzlies
Season Series: 2-0 IND
It’s safe to say that the Indiana Pacers and Memphis Grizzlies are both underdogs in their current matchups. It’s going to take a lot for either to make it to the NBA Finals, but it’s certainly still possible. They both just need play well and limit mistakes
Both teams played well against each other during the regular season, but the Pacers were victorious both times. Not by much, though. Indiana took the first by five points and the next by just one, as Rudy Gay couldn’t connect on what would’ve been a game-winning shot.
The Pacers did shoot a little better in each game, but nothing too crazy. One distinct difference between Indiana and Memphis in each of the two games is the number of shots from downtown each team made. Memphis made just seven total while Indiana drilled 20 from deep. Still, though, the Pacers didn’t win in a blowout either time.
Wonder what #NBAFinals ratings would be for Pacers vs Grizzlies— InsideHoops.com (@InsideHoops) May 23, 2013
Indiana and Memphis would present us with several great positional battles to watch as well. Mike Conley vs. George Hill. David West vs. Zach Randolph. Marc Gasol vs. Roy Hibbert. All three of those could go either way, in my opinion.
This series has seven games written all over it and what fan doesn’t love to watch a back-and-forth long series? These are two of the rising teams in all of basketball and to see them fight for the NBA title would be exciting to say the least.
No. 1: Miami Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs
Season Series: 2-0 MIA
Miami and San Antonio are clearly the two most talented remaining teams in the 2013 NBA Playoffs. The Heat cruised through the regular season while the Spurs finished just two games back of the Western Conference lead.
Through this point in the playoffs, neither team has been in danger of losing a series. Miami has only lost twice in the postseason and San Antonio dropped a pair to the Golden State Warriors, but that’s all.
Which NBA Finals matchup do you want to see most?
Miami may have won both regular-season matchups, but they weren’t by very much. The Heat took down the Spurs on the road by two points and won at home by just five. But the season series is a little more complicated than that.
When San Antonio traveled to Florida, the Spurs were without Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Danny Green and Manu Ginobili. None of them were even with the team.
So when Miami traveled to Texas, the Heat countered, sitting LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Mario Chalmers the entire game. They did, however, make the trip.
In essence, there has yet to be a game this season between the Heat and Spurs where both teams had their stars on the floor. The Heat still managed to defeat the Spurs without James and Wade on the court, though, which would give them the upper hand in a potential NBA Finals matchup—or at least one would assume.
No matter who would win it all, it’d sure be exciting to see what Wade could do against Parker, James against Ginobili and Bosh against Duncan.
Goliath versus Goliath might be an appropriate way to describe this potential series.
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