Miami Heat: Key Matchups to Watch Against the San Antonio Spurs
The final act of the 2013 NBA season is finally upon us. LeBron James and the Heat will look to complete their season by repeating as champions while Tim Duncan will look to win his fifth title with the Spurs and cement his legacy as one of the greatest players in NBA history.
Everyone has been throwing out their predictions for the series and most people have it going seven games. Both teams are loaded with star power, they each have great supporting casts and they are both led by outstanding coaches.
Instead of another prediction, though, let's look at some of the top matchups that will decide the 2013 NBA Finals.
Kawhi Leonard vs. LeBron James
There is not really a question of who the better player is, but Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James will make for an outstanding matchup at the small forward spot.
No disrespect to Leonard, but James is clearly the dominant player here. His ability to physically dominate his opponents matched with his speed and ability to score easy points at the basket makes James a nightmare to defend.
Still, this matchup will be very interesting to watch because of what a great athlete Leonard is. He has a freakish, athletic frame that includes a wingspan of 7'3'' and a standing reach of 8'10" according to his Draft Express profile.
Leonard has shown that he is a great defender all year. His biggest test is ahead of him, though. If he can slow down LeBron at all in the Finals, it could be essential to helping San Antonio win the title.
Tim Duncan vs. Miami Big Men
Chris Bosh played very poorly throughout the majority of the series, while Udonis Haslem and Chris Andersen proved to be very valuable assets to the Heat.
Tim Duncan will be an entirely different animal for Miami to stop. It will be interesting to see how the Heat decide to defend Duncan throughout the series. Expect to see Haslem on him early, but the Heat will likely use a lot of double-teams throughout the series.
On the other side, Duncan and fellow big man Tiago Splitter will need to do all they can to keep Miami away from the rim.
Chris Bosh has struggled with his outside shooting throughout the playoffs, and although Andersen is on fire offensively, he is bound to not be as productive offensively if the Spurs force him away from the basket.
Tony Parker vs. LeBron James
Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole will get most of the defensive responsibility of guarding Tony Parker throughout the series, but when the game comes down to crunch time, the biggest matchup to watch will be James on Parker.
What makes LeBron so great and so versatile is his ability to guard any player on the floor at any time in the game. This naturally means that, in key situations, LeBron will be on the Spurs' best player, Parker.
If LeBron can shut Parker down at the end of the game and limit his ability to penetrate to the basket, the Miami Heat will be in great position to close out games and ultimately win the series.
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