The 2014 NBA Finals would have been an exciting playoff series regardless of which teams made the championship round, but the fact that the San Antonio Spurs will square off against the Miami Heat makes it even more interesting.
San Antonio and Miami met in 2013 for the NBA championship, and a rematch this year is what many predicted leading into this season. ESPN’s Drew Spevak was not surprised by the meeting:
Wait a minute. It's Spurs-Heat for the NBA title??? I can't believe it! Its like the title game we all predicted in November.— Drew Spevak (@DrewSpevak) June 1, 2014
Take a look at the entire 2014 finals schedule and series predictions for the Heat vs. Spurs:
|Game||Date||Matchup||Time (ET)||TV Info||Predicted Winner|
|1||Thu, June 5||Miami at San Antonio||9 p.m.||ABC||Spurs|
|2||Sun, June 8||Miami at San Antonio||8 p.m.||ABC||Heat|
|3||Tue, June 10||San Antonio at Miami||9 p.m.||ABC||Heat|
|4||Thu, June 12||San Antonio at Miami||9 p.m.||ABC||Spurs|
|5*||Sun, June 15||Miami at San Antonio||8 p.m.||ABC||Spurs|
|6*||Tue, June 17||San Antonio at Miami||9 p.m.||ABC||Heat|
|7*||Fri, June 20||Miami at San Antonio||9 p.m.||ABC||Spurs|
Source: NBA.com *If necessary.
Now that you've seen the schedule and game-by-game predictions, here are the championship odds:
|San Antonio Spurs||20-27||-135|
Forecasting San Antonio vs. Miami Series
There are few matchups in the NBA that can polarize the sport the way the San Antonio Spurs vs. Miami Heat tilts have in the past, and for the second year in a row, the two teams will square off with the NBA championship on the line.
San Antonio is the quintessential team. There are no overpowering egos in the locker room, and every member of the roster is fighting for the players around him. Traditionalist basketball fans will side with the Spurs in the finals.
As for Miami, the franchise built its winning roster through free agency, and the team was constructed around stars. With LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh joining forces on the Heat, many fans have grown to dislike the defending champions.
Fans are genuinely excited for this series, but they’re not alone. ESPN is also anticipating the marquee matchup, and SportsCenter's official Twitter account and the company’s stat department shared some interesting notes:
Round 2! The Spurs and Heat will face off again in the NBA Finals, after a 7-game thriller last season. pic.twitter.com/bIHlts0Xxz— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 1, 2014
Spurs + Heat to meet in NBA Finals for 2nd straight season, 1st NBA Finals rematch since Bulls vs Jazz in 1997 and 1998— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 1, 2014
After beating the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals, San Antonio's Tim Duncan told ESPN about his excitement surrounding the matchup with Miami:
It's unbelievable to regain that focus after that devastating loss that we had last year, but we're back here. We're excited about it. We've got four more to win. We'll do it this time. We're happy it's the Heat again. We've got that bad taste in our mouths still.
Both of these franchises know how to win and know how to be victorious in the NBA Finals. With the right mixture of defensive pressure and offensive ability, there is no doubt that this series will be an intense battle that should go the distance.
John Schuhmann of NBA.com took to Twitter to talk about the dominance of each team in its home building:
Heat (8-0) & Spurs (9-1) are a combined 17-1 at home in the playoffs, both scoring over 116 pp100p: http://t.co/142sPTmMH1— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) June 1, 2014
While there is no discounting the offensive pressure that James, Wade and Bosh can put on a defense, San Antonio has one of the best defensive game plans in the league. With plenty of bench depth as well, the Spurs will not be afraid to get physical.
Who ya got?
San Antonio has a smart core of players led by Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker—as long as the point guard's ankle injury isn’t a long-term issue—and that should be enough to hold off the pressure from the Heat.
Regardless of which team is victorious, the big winners will be the fans.
Predicted Series Winner: San Antonio, 4-3
*Stats via NBA.com.