NBA Finals 2014: Role Players Who Will Have the Biggest Impact on the Series

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NBA Finals 2014: Role Players Who Will Have the Biggest Impact on the Series
J Pat Carter/Associated Press

After putting together a seven-game series that shook the world, the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs are at it again in the 2014 NBA Finals.  

Both of these teams are known for having three big superstars, but injuries to their Big Threes will force role players to step up.  Tony Parker reinjured his ankle against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Dwyane Wade's knees are always a cause for concern.  

After "The Decision," it seems that all eyes are always on LeBron James, but he can't do it solely by himself.  If Dwyane Wade can't stay healthy, LeBron and the Heat will rely on Norris Cole and Ray Allen to bring their A-games to win this series.  

With Tony Parker hurt, it'll be tough for him to cover the speedy Cole.  In last year's Finals, Cole found success against Parker, averaging over 10 points per game.  His ability to penetrate and get past Parker will cause havoc for the Spurs.

Cole's impact will be important because Mario Chalmers has been in a postseason slump.  In their series against the Indiana Pacers, Chalmers only averaged 5.7 points per game, about half of his regular-season average (9.8).  

Luckily for the Heat, Ray Allen has been playing like he's five years younger.  In their series against the Pacers, Allen averaged just under 10 points per game and shot over 44 percent from three.  Several times this postseason, Allen hit a three-pointer to clinch the game.   

For the Spurs, an injured Tony Parker could be their downfall.  If they want any chance at beating the two-time reigning champions, they must rely on Patty Mills and Boris Diaw to make an impact.   

In San Antonio's Game 6 win over Oklahoma City, Mills played 18 minutes, recording two assists and three steals. Mills won't be able to bring as much offensive talent as Tony Parker, but he is certainly an improvement defensively.  

In their series against the Thunder, Diaw was a vital part of their success, averaging 13.2 points per game.  Most importantly, Diaw was able to shut down LeBron James in last year's NBA Finals. In Game 5 last year, the Spurs went on a 21-2 run.  During that six-minute span, Diaw covered LeBron and held him to 0-of-4 shooting, according to Bleacher Report's Dan Favale.  

It's also important to note that LeBron struggled because Diaw forced him to take jump shots.  Since then, LeBron has greatly improved his outside shooting and will probably be guarded by Kawhi Leonard. 

Leonard is good enough defensively to guard LeBron in isolation, but he may struggle due to LeBron's improved game in the post.  

I think it's fair to say that if Tony Parker is not 100 percent healthy, the entire Spurs team will have to step up in order to beat LeBron and the Miami Heat.  

 

 

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