The 2014 NBA playoffs offered plenty of excitement and compelling plot twists in the opening round. However, the postseason became more predictable based on seeding as it wore on. Now the Finals have arrived with the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat squaring off for the Larry O'Brien Trophy for the second year in a row.
In the first game at the AT&T Center, the Spurs managed to pull off a 110-95 victory to get a 1-0 edge on the two-time reigning NBA champions. Miami may not have home-court advantage, but stealing a win on the road in the second game would put the Heat in ideal position with two home games on the horizon.
Although there's nary been ample time to process what happened in the Finals opener in San Antonio, here is a look at the TV schedule for the remainder of this epic showdown. An early preview and prediction for Game 2 follows thereafter.
|Date||Matchup||Start Time (ET)||Channel|
|Sunday, June 8||Game 2: Heat at Spurs||8 p.m.||ABC|
|Tuesday, June 10||Game 3: Spurs at Heat||9 p.m.||ABC|
|Thursday, June 12||Game 4: Spurs at Heat||9 p.m.||ABC|
|Sunday, June 15||Game 5: Heat at Spurs*||8 p.m.||ABC|
|Tuesday, June 17||Game 6: Spurs at Heat*||9 p.m.||ABC|
|Friday, June 20||Game 7: Heat at Spurs*||9 p.m.||ABC|
Source: NBA.com *If necessary
NBA Finals Game 2 Prediction
As down and out as the Heat looked in Game 1, SportsCenter's official Twitter account raised a relevant statistic:
Silver lining for Heat fans: Miami's Big 3 had lost Game 1 of a series 5 times entering tonight. They went on to win the series EVERY time.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 6, 2014
Superior perimeter shooting gives San Antonio an edge, as does its size on the inside. It even overcame a whopping 23 turnovers to win the opener. A lot of that success came thanks to a 39-29 edge on the glass and a sparkling 58.8 shooting percentage from the floor.
However, James and Dwyane Wade are most capable of creating their own shots when Miami needs them most. No matter what edge the Spurs have in terms of depth, they don't have any personnel to match up with the combination of James and Wade—and really, no team does.
Bleacher Report's Ethan J. Skolnick believes Wade, who is far healthier than he was at this stage of the playoffs a year ago, will deliver for the Heat:
The one thing I'm sure of on the Heat side is that Wade will have a big series. His year of prep has been building to this.— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) June 3, 2014
But although Wade has been with Miami for the long haul, this is undoubtedly James' team. He is the best all-around player in the game today, which ESPN's Mike Greenberg suggests is good enough to help the Heat over the hump:
In basketball, you pick the team with the best player. #Heat— Mike Greenberg (@Espngreeny) June 5, 2014
The problem with Game 1 was that James suffered from some untimely cramping in the fourth quarter, leading to a massive swing in momentum that saw the Heat blown out the rest of the way.
A malfunctioning air conditioning unit in the AT&T Center was the supposed culprit, but BasketballInsiders.com's Alex Kennedy documented what James said afterward regarding his improved condition:
LeBron James: "I'm feeling better than I did when I came off the floor. So, doing better."— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) June 6, 2014
Both teams are capable of playing excellent defense, but Wade and James give the Heat an undeniable edge in crunch time. That will reveal itself even in a hostile environment on Sunday when Miami bounces back and ties these Finals up at one game apiece.
Heading back to South Beach with the series squared at one affords the Heat the opportunity to close out these Finals in five games, creating a rather anticlimactic conclusion to this rematch. Should Miami manage to triumph in Games 3 and 4, ESPN's Numbers Never Lie notes how lethal the Heat have been when they're position to close out a playoff opponent:
Heat now a PERFECT 10-0 at home in potential series-clinching games in LeBron-Wade-Bosh era.— Numbers Never Lie (@ESPN_Numbers) May 31, 2014
How will the NBA Finals play out?
Given the West champions' advanced age and Miami's relatively easy road to the Finals, it's conceivable that it could happen. Missing out on the chance to hit the road with two games in hand is going to be tough for San Antonio to swallow.
All the power rests with the Heat if they win Game 2, and then they will have some home cooking at AmericanAirlines Arena to look forward to. Their adversaries are saddled with the pressure of winning another title before their championship window closes. The trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili don't have much time left together. As a result, they'll likely press to a fault.
Sending this series back to San Antonio with any chance of seizing the NBA's ultimate prize seems unrealistic, barring an extraordinary, gritty veteran effort to take one of two in Miami.
Prediction: Heat 94, Spurs 91