Miami Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs: Each Team's Recipe to Win NBA Championship

Maxwell Ogden@MaxwellOgdenCorrespondent IIIJune 4, 2013

The 2013 NBA Finals are set, as the Miami Heat will face the San Antonio Spurs in what should be an extraordinary seven-game series.

The Heat defeated Indiana on Monday night, winning by a score of 99-76 and thus earning the right to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. This comes a full week after the Spurs completed their sweep of the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference Finals.

The question is: What is the best strategy for each team to win the NBA championship?

We could compare paper rosters and debate which team has the better compilation of players, but that's hardly a relevant factor. When it comes to postseason basketball, the players you put on the floor are only as valuable as their ability to execute as a team.

When it comes to this series, we will see that truth in full effect.




San Antonio Spurs at Miami Heat

Thursday, June 6         9 p.m. ET       ABC
2San Antonio Spurs at Miami HeatSunday, June 98 p.m. ETABC

Miami Heat at San Antonio Spurs

Tuesday, June 119 p.m. ETABC

Miami Heat at San Antonio Spurs

Thursday, June 139 p.m. ETABC

Miami Heat at San Antonio Spurs

Sunday, June 168 p.m. ETABC


San Antonio Spurs at Miami Heat

Tuesday, June 189 p.m. ETABC

San Antonio Spurs at Miami Heat

Thursday, June 209 p.m. ETABC


San Antonio Spurs

Offensive Strategy: Pound It Inside

The Miami Heat had fits with Roy Hibbert during the Eastern Conference Finals. In fact, Chris Bosh and company were rendered completely helpless as Hibbert pounded it down low and finished with hook shot after hook shot.

Why wouldn't the San Antonio Spurs take the same approach when their big man is Tim Duncan?

The praise for Duncan often ends with the phrase, "I can't believe he's doing all of this at 37." The truth of the matter is, age doesn't matter with Duncan, as his feats are impressive on their own.

Duncan was the only player in the NBA to average at least 17.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.5 blocks simultaneously.

In other words, Duncan wasn't just amazing for his age, but he was the best big man in the entire NBA. Offensively, he was the only player in the league to average at least 17.5 points, 2.5 assists and 1.5 offensive rebounds.

Spoiler Alert: Not a single one of those players were on the Miami Heat.

Duncan is one of the greatest low-post players in the history of the NBA, and his skills remain elite to this day. Chris Bosh and Chris Andersen should provide a quality fight, but Duncan is the significantly superior player to both opponents.

The Spurs have all of the offensive weapons you could ask for with shooters all around and an elite point guard. But to win this series, they need to pound it down low with no remorse.


Defensive Strategy: Zone and Collapse

The San Antonio Spurs are one of the better defensive teams in the NBA, pairing an elite rim protector with multiple forces along the perimeter. With that being said, the Miami Heat are a team that has something no other team possesses.

The slashing abilities of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

Wade is a two-time NBA champion and former Finals MVP, while LeBron won his first title in 2012. However, both players have fallen short in the NBA Finals before, as they collectively failed to strike gold in 2011.

What Dallas did best during that series was play a collapsing zone defensively, forming their defense around the lane and maintaining angles to cut off passing lanes.

Kawhi Leonard is athletic enough to play as the on-ball force against LeBron, while Danny Green continues to impress defending off-guards. With Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili remaining active in the passing lanes and Duncan blocking shots, San Antonio certainly has the personnel to get it done.

Don't forget, Gregg Popovich is their head coach.

At the end of the day, Miami's abundance of three-point shooters are of a less significant threat than Wade, LeBron and Chris Bosh. For that reason, San Antonio would be better off forcing Miami's role players to beat them.

With the Spurs possessing their own elite three-point shooting, offense isn't an issue here—containing the superstars and limiting easy baskets is.


X-Factor: Kawhi Leonard

Regardless of which team won Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the X-Factor for the Spurs was going to be Kawhi Leonard. After all, Leonard's positional matchup was either going to be LeBron James or Paul George.

Leonard pulled the short straw and drew LeBron.

Offensively, Leonard will be one of the keys to San Antonio's success, as his ability to space the floor with the three-ball is beyond valuable. Not only can Leonard shoot at a high clip, but his length and athleticism allow him to rise over even the best of defenders.

He'll need every inch to overcome James.

Defensively, Leonard is the only perimeter player San Antonio possesses that matches size with athleticism. For that reason, he will be tasked with defending LeBron on almost every possession that he plays.

That task, on its own, is noteworthy.


Miami Heat

Offensive Strategy: Push the Pace

If there's one thing that we know about the Miami Heat, it's that they're at their best in the open court. In that same breath, the San Antonio Spurs are a lethal transition team, led by Tony Parker's dynamic playing abilities.

If the Heat keep the tempo up, however, there is one significant advantage that they will hold—they'll prevent the Spurs from setting Tim Duncan up in the paint.

When Miami is pushing the pace, the opposition often attempts to emulate that style of play and work their way into transition. The Spurs are comfortable doing that, but they're also at their best when they enter the half court and utilize their bigs.

Miami must force them out of those dominant ways by maintaining a pace that prevents half-court play.

Miami would normally be able to thrive in the half court, but Chris Bosh's disappearing act is beyond concerning. Not only has his shot been falling at an inconsistent rate, but Bosh has been unable to score out of the post.

Until he rediscovers his touch, Miami must do all they can to keep Duncan on his heels—as difficult as that may be.


Defensive Strategy: Blitz the Pick & Roll

If there is one thing that we've learned about the Miami Heat during the 2013 NBA playoffs, it's that they struggle with their absence of size. That's why they brought in Chris Andersen during the regular season, but his energy is not always enough.

Against Tim Duncan, they'll need every inch.

Duncan is a menace in the low post, but the Spurs are the masters of the pick-and-roll. Tony Parker is elite in that regard, but everyone from Manu Ginobili to Gary Neal thrives with that play, which opens the floor for everything else.

As the Heat do so well, they must blitz the pick-and-roll—the key is doing so with size.

Chris Bosh is unfairly criticized, but it's been proven during the postseason that small-ball is specific to Miami and not always effective. Teams with elite big men have been the story, and the Heat are about to face the best of them all.

Putting Bosh on an island against Duncan will result in far too many easy buckets—it'll also open up the floor for everyone else once Miami is forced to collapse.

If Miami is to play effective defense, the Heat will need to blitz the pick-and-roll and go big down low. Their athleticism may be a strength, but size is a key going up against a Spurs team that thrives in a low-high capacity.

Utilizing their size—and the Heat don't have much of it—will be the deciding factor here.


X-Factor: Chris Bosh

Chris Bosh may be an All-Star, but there is no way to justify how poorly he played against the Indiana Pacers. In a seven-game series, Bosh posted averages of 11.0 points and 4.3 rebounds per contest.

During the final four games of the series, he averaged 7.0 points and 5.0 rebounds. If that's what he does against the San Antonio Spurs, the Miami Heat will lose.

We shouldn't need to label a superstar as an X-Factor, but in the case of Bosh, he's been as make-or-break as any player in recent memory. While Tim Duncan is not as physically imposing as Roy Hibbert, he remains the most skilled big man in the game.

Anything less than a superstar performance by Bosh will leave the Heat vulnerable to defeat.

We know the former Georgia Tech star to be a productive player that can space the floor with his jump shooting or attack the rim with his explosiveness. We also know that Bosh has struggled to rebound at a high level throughout his career.

Reputations are fine and well, but Bosh needs to prove he's still the superstar we believed him to be if Miami is to win this series.


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