The 2014 NBA Finals schedule has been packed with action through the first three games, and basketball fans are excited about Thursday’s Game 4 from the AmericanAirlines Arena in South Florida.
The Miami Heat are the most polarizing team in the league. After losing to the San Antonio Spurs in the opening game of the series and again in Game 3, Miami and star player LeBron James will view Thursday as a must-win situation.
The resulting battle between these two powerhouses will be great television. Here are all the details needed for basketball fans to enjoy Game 4 and the remainder of the championship series.
|Date||Matchup||Time (ET)||TV||Live Stream|
|June 5||Game 1: Spurs beat Heat, 110-95||--||--||--|
|June 8||Game 2: Heat beat Spurs, 98-96||--||--||--|
|June 10||Game 3: Spurs beat Heat, 111-92||--||--||--|
|June 12||Game 4: Spurs at Heat||9 p.m.||ABC||ABC.go.com|
|June 15||Game 5: Heat at Spurs||8 p.m.||ABC||ABC.go.com|
|June 17||Game 6: Spurs at Heat*||9 p.m.||ABC||ABC.go.com|
|June 20||Game 7: Heat at Spurs*||9 p.m.||ABC||ABC.go.com|
Source: NBA.com *if necessary
Live stream via ABC.Go.com.
Now that you’ve seen the schedule and live stream information, here are the latest championship odds:
|San Antonio Spurs||1-2|
Miami’s Biggest Key to Success: Improved Point Guard Play
The Miami Heat have the best player in the NBA today with LeBron James, but he can’t win the series on his own. While stars like Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade have played well at times, the biggest struggle has been at the point guard position.
It’s unfair to put the weight of the championship series on the shoulders of Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole, but these players were brought in to get the ball to the best players on the team and capitalize on the opportunities afforded to them.
In Game 3, Chalmers and Cole combined for 10 points and five assists in 40 minutes of action.
After yet another game of struggles from the point guard position, James told Michael Wallace of ESPN.com that the team believes the play of Chalmers and Cole will improve heading into the next matchup:
We want them to run the offense and we want them to defend. When they get open looks, we want them to take [shots] with confidence. When they have an opportunity, we want them to be aggressive. You can control how you defend. You can control how much energy you bring to the game. If our two point guards do that, we can be OK with that. ... I know our two point guards; they're very passionate. They've got a lot of pride. And I know they're looking forward to learning from what they did and try to be better in Game 4.
Miami lost Game 3 due to the red-hot start of San Antonio and the team’s inability to come back, but the loss had as much to do with the inability to create plays from the point as it did the struggles of James on Tuesday, who only racked up 22 points.
If Chalmers and Cole can overcome their struggles to play well in Game 4 and beyond, the high-powered Heat offensive unit has the chance to break through the Spurs' tough defensive game plan and pull out the victory.
San Antonio’s Biggest Key to Success: The Team-First Mentality
While Miami is a team built on explosive offensive ability, the San Antonio Spurs are a franchise predicated on smart fundamental play in both the offensive and defensive zones.
Which team wins Game 4?
Whether it’s playing strong defensively, moving the ball to the open man or draining shots, each player has his role and knows what he must do to fulfill that obligation. Add in the Spurs' willingness to work together, and there are few teams that can frustrate San Antonio.
Spurs Forward Boris Diaw was an afterthought for most fans coming into this series, but as a player dedicated to playing the game the right way, ESPN’s stats department shared a tweet revealing his importance in the championship series:
Spurs have outscored Heat by 45 points in this series with Boris Diaw on the floor. He was +20 in Game 3— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 11, 2014
Head coach Gregg Popovich preaches his team-first mentality without wavering, and with a fifth career NBA championship hanging in the balance, there is no doubt that the veteran coach is doing something correctly.
San Antonio will be looking for Duncan and Parker to step up, as always, but with talented players like Diaw, Kawhi Leonard and Manu Ginobili ready to contribute in any way asked of them, the team mindset of the Spurs will be tough to stop.
Game 4’s Predicted Winner: Miami Heat, 100-97
Stats via NBA.com.