The first game of the 2013 NBA Finals features the fresh San Antonio Spurs against the battered and bruised Miami Heat.
The Spurs haven't played a game since May 28, which means Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan and the rest of the team's veterans have had a nine-day break to rest their bodies. Meanwhile, it's only been three days since the Heat defeated the Indiana Pacers in Game 7 of that brutally physical series.
Rest assured, a well-rested Parker will run circles around his weary opponents.
It's worth saying that Game 1 won't determine the series—not in this year's Finals. Both teams feature veterans who have "been there and done that" a few times, and a four-game sweep isn't likely to happen. More likely, these two teams will take this series to six or seven games.
That said, by the time the final buzzer sounds on Thursday night at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, there won't be any doubt about what kind of dogfight the Heat are in. The Spurs are incredibly tough to beat this year, and it'll take everything within LeBron James and his Heat to win the title.
The linchpin for San Antonio's excellence this postseason is without argument Parker, who has been playing out of his mind.
The 31-year-old Belgium-born star is playing like he's 21—zipping in and out of the paint like a Justin Bieber-driven Ferrari in Calabasas. The craziest part about Parker's dominance in this year's playoffs is that he's been doing it with a sore calf since Game 3 of the team's series against the Golden State Warriors.
You can be sure that nine days of relative rest (no games) will do wonders for Parker's calf, and he's going to be difficult to contain in Game 1.
He is the master of the high pick-and-roll with Tim Duncan, Tiago Splitter and Boris Diaw—all three of whom are capable of hitting outside shots or cutting to the basket for an easy bucket.
Against Memphis—the team with the best defense in the NBA during the regular season—Parker averaged 22.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, 9.2 assists and 1.6 steals per contest. After that series, ESPN's Jalen Rose caused an uproar on Twitter when he called Parker the third-best player in the NBA behind James and Kevin Durant:
Dwyane Wade, who is playing on a gimpy knee, isn't quick enough to stay in front of Parker, and neither is point guard Mario Chalmers.
Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra will need to come up with creative ways to guard Parker, and he'll have plenty of tape to show him how not to do it after Game 1.
Parker's quickness will baffle the Heat on Thursday night, and San Antonio will waltz out of the arena with an easy win under its belt to take a 1-0 lead in the 2013 NBA Finals.
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