The San Antonio Spurs are going to use their shooting, ball movement and advantage on the interior to dethrone the Miami Heat in six games in the 2013 NBA Finals.
The veteran Spurs will also benefit from the extra rest gained by virtue of their sweep and the fact that it took the Heat seven games to dispatch the feisty Indiana Pacers. The Heat marked that occasion with this Instagram pic:
By virtue of their NBA-best record of 66-16, the Heat will have home-court advantage with the 2-3-2 format of the finals.
Take a look at the schedule for the finals, and then I'll get deeper into the breakdown of this wonderful matchup.
|San Antonio Spurs at Miami Heat||1||Thursday, June 6||9 p.m. ET||ABC|
|San Antonio Spurs at Miami Heat||2||Sunday, June 9||8 p.m. ET||ABC|
|Miami Heat at San Antonio Spurs||3||Tuesday, June 11||9 p.m. ET||ABC|
|Miami Heat at San Antonio Spurs ||4||Thursday, June 13||9 p.m. ET||ABC|
|Miami Heat at San Antonio Spurs ||5||Sunday, June 16||8 p.m. ET||ABC|
|San Antonio Spurs at Miami Heat ||6||Tuesday, June 18||9 p.m. ET||ABC|
San Antonio Spurs at Miami Heat
|7||Thursday, June 20||9 p.m. ET||ABC|
*All stats via NBA.com unless otherwise noted.
The Spurs will have a big advantage in the paint. Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter offer the Spurs length and size that the Heat will struggle to handle.
The Heat can try and combat this by going small, but this will leave them vulnerable on the defensive end. Duncan is too skilled and smart of a player not to exploit his size advantage on offense.
If the Spurs can hit their outside shots to go along with their interior advantage, the Heat will be almost helpless to stop them. And it is on the perimeter where one of the most intense battles will take place.
The Heat finished the season third in steals and did so largely by playing the passing lanes. The Spurs love to move the ball around. They led the NBA in assists per game and per possession. They also didn't cough up a lot of turnovers to go with that. San Antonio was second, according to TeamRankings.com, in assist-to-turnover ratio.
While these keys bode well for the Spurs, there is the little matter of LeBron James playing for the Heat, and it's always risky to count out the game's best player.
Still, the Spurs are about as well equipped to slow down James as a team could hope for. Kawhi Leonard is an strong defender, and he will be able to keep up with LeBron.
He will be giving up around 2" and 30 pounds to James, but he won't have to handle him in the interior by himself. Duncan is a true master of help defense. While he's lost a step, he can still cover ground around the rim.
I have all of this tipping the scales in the Spurs' favor. Check out how I see the series playing out:
Game 1: Heat 97, Spurs 89
As I mentioned above, the Spurs will benefit in this series from the extra rest. However, they won't in the first game. There will be some rust on the Spurs while the Heat will be in playoff rhythm.
The Heat will control this one from start to finish.
Game 2: Spurs 96, Heat 94
Game 2 is going to be the best game of the series. Both teams will be in rhythm for this one, and it will be close all game.
The Heat will rely on LeBron to try and win this one for them in the end, and the Spurs will use quality team play led by point guard Tony Parker. Tim Duncan will help get a big stop, and then the Spurs will hit a shot as the buzzer expires to seal the pivotal win.
Game 3: Spurs 106, Heat 94
With the momentum of the big win in Game 2 and returning to play in front of their home fans, the Spurs will play nearly a flawless game.
Their shooting will rip apart the Heat's defense, and they will control this game from the opening tip.
Game 4: Heat 95, Spurs 90
The Heat's backs will be against the wall in this one, and as we've seen over the last two playoffs, they respond well in that situation.
This will be a physical game, and the Heat's pressure will throw the Spurs off their game.
Game 5: Spurs 107, Heat 99
With the series knotted at two, this will lead to the pivotal Game 5. The Spurs will be up to the task. Using the energy of the home fans, San Antonio will get off to a big lead and hold on late.
This is the game where the extra rest will really start to pay off for the Spurs—especially with Manu Ginobili, whom I expect to make his lasting impression in this game.
Game 6: Spurs 101, Heat 92
The veteran Spurs will not be rattled by the rowdy Miami fans hoping to will their team back into the series.
Look for Tim Duncan to sense the blood in the water. He will make big plays when it matters most to propel his team to another championship.