NBA Finals 2013: X-Factors for Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs
Well, here we are, one day away from the 2013 NBA Finals.
And what a ride it has been.
The Miami Heat are coming off a seven-game battle against the Indiana Pacers, while the ageless San Antonio Spurs have lost just two games in the playoffs, sweeping the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference finals.
Make no mistake about it, the best teams in each conference have made it to the NBA Finals this season. This should be a contentious series full of storylines and subplots.
Here's one of the storylines—the X-factors for each team.
All shot charts via NBA.com.
Dwyane Wade, SG
Coming into the playoffs, it would have been ludicrous to call Dwyane Wade an X-factor, given his accomplishments throughout his career.
But the 31-year-old shooting guard has been battling a bruised knee and his play fluctuated in the Eastern Conference finals against the Indiana Pacers.
In that series, Wade shot 35 percent in the Heat's three losses. He shot 51 percent in their four wins. That's an X-factor if I've ever seen one.
Here's a look at Wade's shot chart in the playoffs:
Chris Bosh, PF/C
Bosh, like Wade, wouldn't have been considered an X-factor heading into the playoffs this season, but his erratic play against the Pacers was notable.
Before grabbing eight rebounds against the Pacers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, Bosh was averaging 3.7 rebounds per game in the series, despite being 6'11". Frankly, that's unacceptable. Miami's disadvantage against Indiana on the glass was compounded by the fact that Bosh clearly underachieved at the rim.
But beyond that, Bosh shot 38 percent against the Pacers in that series...after shooting 54 percent in the regular season.
The Heat won't face the same disadvantage on the glass against the Spurs as they did against the Pacers, but they will certainly need Bosh's offense against a Spurs team shooting 46.9 percent from the field in the playoffs.
Here's a look at Bosh's shot chart in the playoffs:
Chris Andersen, PF/C
Chris Andersen's ability to come off the bench and help Miami on defense and on the glass has been important for the squad.
He's averaging 4.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in just under 16 minutes per game during the playoffs. The Heat won every game against the Pacers when he posted at least four rebounds.
Of course, the Heat need Andersen to stay on the floor against Gregg Popovich's unit. He was suspended for one game against the Pacers for shoving Tyler Hansbrough in Game 5.
San Antonio Spurs
Manu Ginobili, SG
Manu Ginobili is shooting 38 percent from the floor and 32 percent from beyond the arc in the playoffs. Against the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference finals, he shot 41 percent from the field and 29 percent from beyond the arc.
Overall, Ginobili hasn't had the most impressive season. He shot 43 percent from the field in the regular season. His PER of 19.05 was his lowest since his 2003-04 campaign.
That being said, we've seen Ginobili all of a sudden turn it on in some games during the playoffs this year. He posted 18 points against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of the quarterfinals. He posted 21 points against the Golden State Warriors in Game 4 of the semifinals. And he posted 19 points against the Grizzlies in Game 3 of the conference finals.
Miami is shooting 47.2 percent in the playoffs, tops among all postseason teams. The Spurs could use some extra punch in the NBA Finals.
Here's a look at Ginobili's shot chart in the playoffs:
Kawhi Leonard, SF
What Kawhi Leonard has done in his second season has simply been stunning.
Who is the X-factor of the NBA Finals?
He averaged 11.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.7 steals while shooting 49 percent from the field and 37 percent from downtown during the regular season.
He's been even better in the postseason, averaging 13.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.6 steals while shooting 57 percent from the floor and 42 percent from beyond the arc.
Of course, Leonard may be handed the biggest task of all against the Heat: defending LeBron James.
Leonard is known as an all-around player and solid defender, but very few players have been able to contain James this season, let alone stop him. Not only will it be a challenge for Leonard to guard James, his offense may also be affected because of fatigue.
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