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Thursday, June 6, 2013

NBA Finals Preview, Legacy Talk, and Prediction (6.6.13)

Fresh off dispatching the Indiana Pacers in a grueling seven game series, the Miami Heat will host the San Antonio Spurs for Game 1 of the 2013 NBA Finals on June 6th. 

With Game 1 just around the corner, here is my take on key points regarding the series.


Team Matchup Analysis and Breakdown

When taking a glance at the rosters of each squad, one would think that a team led by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh would significantly differ compared to one led by Tony Parker and Tim Duncan. However, when taking a look at the 2012-13 regular season statistics, it is clear that for 82 games, these teams were nearly identical images. 

Here's a quick rundown of each team's per game statistics from the regular season.

Heat
Spurs
102.9
Points For
103.0
95.0
Points Against
96.6
.496
Fg%
.481
.440
Opposing Fg%
.442
.396
3pt%
.376
.350
Opp 3pt%
.353
.754
Ft%
.791
.222
Off Reb Rate
.205
.730
Def Reb Rate
.749
.490
Tot Reb Rate
.493
13.3
Turnovers
14.1
14.7
Opp Turnovers
14.3

Notice any huge differences?

Just going by a checklist, the Heat do win eight of the twelve categories, however, neither squad outright dominates any single category.

You could argue that the Heat hold a significant defensive advantage considering they allowed 1.6 fewer points per game, however, when looking at the opposing shooting percentages, defensive rebounding rates, and opposing turnovers, the statistics essentially produce a defensive stalemate. Defensively, these are two of the best.

Even further, in the postseason, each team increased the defensive pressure, with the Heat allowing a stifling 87.6 points per game, and the Spurs just 91.5. Once again, the edge goes to the Heat, but when taking a deeper postseason look, the shooting percentages allowed (.429 Heat, .420 Spurs), defensive rebounding rates (.699 Heat, .728 Spurs), and opposing turnovers (16.6 Heat, 14.2 Spurs) paint a familiar defensive prowess deadlock.

On the offensive side of the ball, each team thrives with high shooting percentages and an ability to take care of the ball. The Heat carry a slight advantage in the field goal percentage, three point percentage, and turnover battle, but once again, none of these advantages is significantly noticeable.

When taking a look at the postseason offensive numbers, the stalemate continues. So far in the postseason, the Heat have posted 97.2 points per game on a .472 shooting percentage, including .356% from deep, along with just 13.5 turnovers. The Spurs have posted 101.6 points per game on a .469 shooting percentage, including .362% from deep, along with just 12.0 turnovers. While both teams have experienced offensive dips in the postseason, they still matchup fairly even (and Miami’s drop in points per game can be attributed to blowing out the Bucks and Bulls in a couple of games, thus allowing James and the starters to rest for long stretches in the fourth quarter).  

In general, the numbers depict a fairly even matchup on both sides of the ball.

With each team posting eerily similar statistics, an even deeper regular season inspection reveals why. Simply put, these teams play a similar style of ball.

Heat
Spurs
38.4
Fg Made
39.1
77.4
Fg Attempted
81.4
8.7
3pt Made
8.1
22.1
3pt Attempted
21.5
17.4
Ft Made
16.6
23.0
Ft Attempted
21.0
1.33
Points Per Possession
1.27
.552
Assisted Fg%
.531

So what can be gleaned from these statistics? 

Well, both teams love the three ball (with each ranking top seven in attempts and makes throughout the regular season), both move the ball with purpose and load up on assists (ranked one and two overall), and both execute strategic basketball mathematics, thus focusing on risk/reward scoring opportunities that produce efficient points per possession (ranked two and four respectively).

Judging from the numbers, it is clear that each team utilizes the three ball as a weapon. Each takes and makes a lot of three pointers. With shooters spread all over the court, and Parker and James in the driver's seat, opposing defenses are stuck in a lose-lose situation; they can either slide over and help, thus forcing the ball out of Parker or James’ hands, and likely leading to a kick out and swing for the three, or stay home on the shooter and give up wider driving lanes. Parker’s speed coupled with great decision making allows him to run a series of pick and rolls until he sees an opportunity to thrive, whether it’s a strong take to the rim, a kick out to the corner for a three, or kicking out to Duncan for the midrange jumper. For the Heat, James runs the show, and his overwhelming athleticism and skill forces the defense to constantly be aware of him at all times. Like Parker, James uses superior decision making in order to make the correct play, and with his size, he can fire off any pass he wants due to his ability to see over the defense. In the postseason, each squad has maintained their style of play, as the Heat have made 7.1 threes on 19.8 attempts, while the Spurs have made 7.4 threes on 20.5 attempts.

Furthermore, excellent floor spacing coupled with dribble drives allows each team to drain the long ball with ease, thus accounting for such excellent points per possession statistics. Coach Spoelstra and Popovich each emphasize the importance of either getting to the rim, or firing up threes (almost always off of great ball movement rather than jacking up contested threes). In doing so, these teams are ahead of the curve in regards to scoring efficiently (they essentially abandon the midrange jumper, with only Bosh and Duncan given that green light, two of the best). While the Spurs utilize pick and roll sets with Parker and Duncan in order to set up three point shots for Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, Matt Bonner, and Manu Ginobili, the Heat utilize James and his superior skills in order to attract double teams and set up the likes of Ray Allen, Shane Battier, Mario Chalmers, and Norris Cole for the long bomb. Each team thrives on the three point shot, and with that, whoever can close out on shooters with the most success will likely gain a noticeable advantage in the series. In the postseason, each team has dipped in their points per possession efficiency, with the Heat posting a 1.31 compared to the Spur’s 1.22. Such a dip is expected against greater competition, but it is clear that the Spurs, while still excellent, have struggled to reproduce their highly efficient results from their regular season.

With shooters on each team waiting in the corners and wings, ball movement is also a strong suit of each squad. Check out those assisted field goal percentages, the Spurs post a great .531 percentage of all buckets assisted, while the Heat one up them with a spectacular .552 percentage (thus serving as the top two teams in the entire NBA for this category). While the Spurs rely heavily on the pick and roll with Parker (and then Ginobili when Parker is on the bench) in order to set up just about everything in their offense, the Heat rely on James and Wade to breakdown the defense whether one on one or with a pick before attracting attention and making the correct play. “Ball stopping” is not a term associated with these teams. Although James and Wade can make plays individually in isolation, the Heat prefer a free flowing offense rather than a stuck in mud isolation set. In the postseason, each squad has maintained their stellar averages, with the Heat posting a .520 assisted field goal percentage compared to the Spurs’ .513.

Judging from the numbers, these teams are remarkably similar. Each prefers to space the floor with shooters while allowing a dominant guard/wing to set up the offense. This setup produces an efficient offense with weapons all over the court stretching out the defense. With the defense stretched out, something has to give, and each team excels with ball movement and three point shooting, thus producing an efficient offense. Simply put, if Parker or James can’t get a layup, the likes of Bonner and Allen are likely firing up an open three pointer, or Duncan and Bosh are taking an open midrange jumper. These offenses excel at putting the proper players in the correct position to succeed.


Player Matchups

With the general styles of play covered, let’s take a look at some of the key matchups.

Point Guard, Tony Parker vs Mario Chalmers

Simply put, Parker will dominate this matchup. Parker has been playing some of the best ball of his career this postseason, and I fully expect that play to continue against the likes of Chalmers and Cole. Parker will run a ton of pick and rolls, and it will be up to Bosh and the bigs to hedge hard or trap in order to get the ball out of Parker’s hands. This postseason, Parker is averaging 23.0 points, 7.2 assists, and 3.9 rebounds per game on .475% shooting, including .375% from deep. Chalmers definitely has his work cut out for him. Chalmers can give a nice lift with three point shots (although his percentage has significantly dipped from .409 in the regular season to .306 in the postseason), but don’t expect him to play Parker even. In fact, Chalmers won’t be asked to play Parker even, so expect a clear advantage for Parker. And those of you who think James may guard Parker, it won’t matter, simply because the Spurs run so many screens, eventually James will get picked and have to switch.

Shooting Guard, Danny Green vs Dwyane Wade

Clear advantage to Wade, right? Well, considering what each is asked to do, Wade certainly has a bigger role, however, injuries have clearly hampered him this postseason. The current incarnation of Wade is no longer a superstar, and while he’s certainly a better player than Green, his impact likely won’t be as significant as it would if he were truly healthy. Green will continue with his expected role, namely, firing up open threes (shot .429% from deep in the regular season and .431% in the postseason). Wade will be asked to make plays with aggressive dribble drives, and even hampered, he should be able to outplay Green. However, in the postseason, Wade has certainly struggled, and his declining numbers prove it (21.2 points to 14.1, .521 shooting percentage to .447, and 6.2 free throw attempts to just 3.9). Advantage Wade in an individual aspect, but in a team aspect, Wade’s drop-off hurts the Heat far more than anything Green is asked to do for the Spurs. If Wade can resume his normal aggressive game, offensively and defensively, then he will be a nightmare matchup, and this contest won't be close. 

Small Forward, Kawhi Leonard vs LeBron James

This may be the key matchup of the series. Don’t expect Leonard to stop James, but with his 7’3.75” wingspan, Leonard certainly has the frame to matchup with James and attempt to slow him down. James is playing on another level right now, and if he has his way with Leonard, then the Spurs will be placed in a nearly insurmountable position. Statistically, James will dominate Leonard, but that is expected considering the role of each player. Averaging 26.2 points, 6.4 assists, and 7.4 rebounds per game on .514% shooting, including .387% from deep, James is on a tear this postseason. If Leonard can move his feet and stay in front of James, while contesting every shot, and eventually disrupting James’ rhythm, his impact will be far more valuable than his modest (but efficient) postseason averages of 13.0 points, 1.1 assists, and 8.0 rebounds on .565% shooting, including .417% from deep. Leonard's biggest challenge will be to knock down James' shooting percentage. Expect James to continue producing his MVP caliber numbers, but don't sleep on Leonard's ability to be a difference maker.

Power Forward, Tim Duncan vs Chris Bosh

The winner of this matchup will provide a significant advantage to his team. While Duncan has enjoyed a sort of resurgence this past season, posting higher numbers than the output of his prior two seasons, Bosh has seen his role diminish, and his numbers have plummeted this postseason. Each serves as an integral cog in terms of floor spacing due to their ability to hit midrange jumpers, and each serves as the backline of the defense. This postseason, Duncan has averaged 17.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.7 blocks on .461% shooting. While Duncan’s blocks and shooting percentage have dipped in the postseason compared to his regular season numbers (17.8 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 2.7 blocks on .502% shooting), his output has still been remarkably consistent. On the other hand, Bosh has struggled mightily, watching his regular season averages of 16.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.4 blocks on .535% shooting drop to 12.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 1.6 blocks on .457% shooting this postseason. Bosh’s role as the third banana can explain his modest regular season numbers (for his talent level); however, with Wade’s decline in the postseason, Bosh has certainly failed to increase his production in the postseason. Just judging their overall games, expect Duncan to have a greater impact on the series. Duncan can attack Bosh in a myriad of ways, whether it’s a pick and pop jumper, a low post hook, or a mid block bank shot, whereas, Bosh has been relegated to a really big guard shooting three pointers in the corner. If Bosh comes out aggressive, he certainly has the skill to play with Duncan, but that is a big if. Expect Duncan to show the world why he is considered the greatest power forward of all-time.

Center, Tiago Splitter vs Udonis Haslem

Due to Miami’s preference for small ball lineups, they usually tend to slide Bosh to the center position as James plays power forward (the Spurs do the same when they slide Duncan to center and play Boris Diaw or Matt Bonner as a stretch forward). However, in order to compare a traditional lineup, this will likely be the most common matchup of centers. There’s nothing really exciting here. Haslem is a great baseline mid range shooter. He hustles, plays solid positional defense, provides an emotional lift, and hits baseline jumpers, that’s about it. Splitter is a great screen setter. Splitter excels at setting a pick on Parker’s man and then rolling to the rim. Splitter has decent hands, thus allowing him to catch the ball in traffic and finish at the rim. Offensively Splitter won’t score unless it’s a layup or a putback finish. Defensively, Splitter is a key positional player that excels at protecting the rim with Duncan as a twin tower setup. Expect Splitter to be on the receiving end of a few powerful drives by James (whether those turn into dunks or charges remains to be seen). Overall, these two may swing a game with a solid performance (something like Haslem shooting 8-9, or Splitter scoring 14 points on layups while blocking three shots or so).  

The Reserves

Each team has a reservoir of shooters. For the Spurs, it’s Manu Ginobili, Gary Neal, Matt Bonner, and Boris Diaw. For the Heat, it’s Ray Allen, Shane Battier, Norris Cole, and Mike Miller. Further bench guys that get some run are Corey Joseph for the Spurs, and Chris “Birdman” Anderson for the Heat.

Overall, the best bench player of the two squads is likely Ginobili. However, Ginobili has struggled tremendously this postseason to find his shot. Ginobili is averaging 11.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 5.4 assists on .383% shooting, including just .324% from deep this postseason. While Ginobili has continued making plays for others (utilizing the pick and roll), his shot has clearly abandoned him (he averaged 11.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 4.6 assists on .425% shooting, including .353% from deep in the regular season). While Ginobili certainly has the chops to turn back the clock and provide a vintage performance, such an occurrence is not a given.

Instead, the most impactful reserve may be the duo of Allen and Battier. If either of those two can get hot from downtown, the Heat’s offense is unstoppable. Battier, specifically, is the x-factor. With his size, Battier is big enough to play power forward in a small ball lineup, and versatile enough to stretch out the opposing defense with his shooting and intelligent ball movement. Battier has been in a bit of a slump, much like Ginobili, but as a key veteran, never underestimate his ability to swing the momentum of a game.

Overall, each bench has specialty players, with many of them serving as floor spacing shooters. Whoever gets the most out of their bench will benefit tremendously. If “Birdman” goes four games without missing a shot like he did against the Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals, watch out for the Heat.

With the matchups covered, who has the advantage?

Well, James is clearly the best player on the floor at all times. Parker is second. Whoever comes up as third will determine the series. If Duncan dominates Miami’s frontline, the Spurs’ chances of winning the series are significantly higher. If Wade returns to his normal self, the one-two punch of him and James will likely be too much for the Spurs to handle. Overall, I believe that the Parker-Duncan duo will be better than the James-Wade/Bosh duo. In terms of the benches, both are rather even, so this series will come down to the performance of the superstars.


Legacy Talk

With the team statistics, and matchups covered, let’s tackle the legacy talk riding on this series.

Boy there sure is a lot riding on this series in terms of historical context. With a fifth ring, Duncan can challenge Kobe Bryant as the greatest post-Jordan player of that era, and he can become the only player besides Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to win an NBA Finals MVP a full 14 seasons apart. With a consecutive championship ring, James can join an elite club of back to back champs, and an even rarer club of consecutive MVP awards with consecutive championship hardware. With a third ring, Wade can cement himself as the third greatest shooting guard of all-time. With a fourth ring, Parker can jump into the conversation as one of the greatest point guards of all-time. With a Spurs victory, a fifth ring in fourteen years would cement them as a modern dynasty. With a Heat victory, a consecutive championship, coupled with a third straight trip to the Finals, could be the required beginnings of a dynasty, and could help keep the team together for future seasons. Lastly, the coaching legacies of Popovich and Spoelstra can be enhanced to all-time levels.

Duncan's Legacy

Recognized by many former greats as the greatest power forward of all-time, Duncan has an opportunity to grab a hold of the "Greatest Player of His Generation" title.

In the post-Jordan era, Kobe Bryant rushed out to five championships in a span of ten seasons, including seven trips to the Finals in that span. With his game adapting many of Jordan's characteristics, Bryant has been the only guard to live up to the hype, and challenge, of being labeled, "The Next Jordan." With Bryant being "Like Mike," he captured the attention of many with an individual greatness that eventually translated into team related championships. Bryant also played for the big market Los Angeles Lakers, and with his worldwide attention, he has built up a legion of supporters. Bryant's box office flair coupled with his championship hardware has him in the eyes of many as the favorite in this argument.

On the other hand, Duncan has long been under appreciated as a member of the small market San Antonio Spurs. Nicknamed, "The Big Fundamental," Duncan's game is boring to the casual eye. He doesn't jump very high, or run very fast, he doesn't have a flashy crossover, or a signature dunk; instead Duncan does all the little things well. His footwork, his skill with each hand, his defensive positioning, everything is fundamental, and it all leads to astounding production down in the painted area. With a fifth championship ring in a span of fourteen seasons, Duncan would join a rarified group of winners, and if he were to win the Finals MVP award a full 14 seasons apart (cementing his superb consistency), he would become just the second player in NBA history to do such a thing (with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar solely holding that distinction). Duncan's low key persona has kept the spotlight off of him, but with another ring, he sure would be difficult to ignore.

This debate can fill up many more pages with in-depth statistics, awards, and extracurricular analysis, but the greats play for hardware, and if Duncan gets a fifth ring, he would certainly be on equal footing with Bryant’s five rings. With a win, Duncan cannot be ignored as a candidate for the “Greatest Player of his Generation,” but with a loss, Duncan will have to sit on the sideline during that conversation.

James' Legacy

Chasing the title of "Greatest of All-Time," James is hoping to pave a path past Michael Jordan (and if not Jordan in your eyes, then Bill Russell or Abdul-Jabbar). With a chance to win back to back titles in consecutive MVP seasons, James can join Russell and Jordan as the only basketball players to ever do such a thing. Even further, if James can win a consecutive Finals MVP, then he would join Jordan as the only player to complete the trifecta of MVP, championship, and Finals MVP in consecutive seasons (unfortunately for Russell, they didn't award Finals MVP's until 1969, however, the award is now named after him). With an unimaginable ceiling, and a chance at making history, James has a lot to gain in this championship round. Surprisingly, James also has a lot to lose. If he fails, he will have three Finals losses under his belt, and his fourth MVP award in five years will ring hollow. With the words, "Not six, not seven," forever hanging over him, James must win, and any failure to do so will irreparably harm his legacy.

Wade's Legacy

With his third championship ring, Wade would have a legitimate claim as the third greatest shooting guard ever behind just Jordan and Bryant. Who is in front of him currently? None other than the NBA logo, Jerry West. The only player to ever win a Finals MVP while playing on the losing team, West failed to rack up championship rings due to Russell's Celtics. With just one championship to his name (as a member of the 33 straight win '72 Lakers), West has all the statistics, but none of the hardware. If Wade can triple West's ring count, while eventually catching his statistical prowess, it will be difficult to not favor Wade in this ranking. Currently, West's career averages of 27.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 6.7 assists on .474% shooting outpace Wade's career averages of 24.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 6.1 assists on .489% shooting, but more additions of hardware can skewer the argument. Factor in Wade's brilliance during the 2005-06 NBA Finals, and this ring may just put him over the top (keyword "may," West's brilliance is still undeniable... four rings would certainly do the trick). 

Parker's Legacy

Aiming for his fourth championship ring, Parker has an opportunity to jump into the all-time annals of point guard. With only Bob Cousy and Magic Johnson ahead of him in the ring count, Parker has a real opportunity to cement his status as one of the greats. Considering he won the 2006-07 NBA Finals MVP, Parker has certainly been just as integral to the Spurs success as Duncan. In fact, in the past couple of seasons, the team has been turned over to Parker and he has not disappointed. Running the show confidently, Parker has turned a corner that some thought he would never reach. Blazing fast, intelligent, a master of the pick and roll, and possibly the greatest little man finisher in the lane, Parker has an opportunity to truly jump ahead of point guard greats such as Gary Payton, Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, Isiah Thomas, John Stockton, Walt Frazier, and maybe even Bob Cousy and Oscar Robertson (probably not past the "Cooz" or the "Big O" yet, even with another ring). Parker definitely won't be catching Magic Johnson anytime soon, but winning a fourth ring wouldn't hurt his case for advancing up the greatest point guard ladder. As for losing? Well, he would still have more hardware than many of the all-time point guards, but his statistical production would pale to many of the greats. Without a fourth ring, Parker is not an option for a top five point guard discussion (at this point in time).

Spurs Dynasty?

Five championships in fourteen seasons, all under the same coach, and four featuring a main core of three players, with five featuring one mainstay player; sounds an awful lot like a dynasty. Even though it has been six years since the Spurs last trip to the NBA Finals, a championship this season would cement a run unlike any other, especially as a small market franchise. Rare is the sight of one coach coaching one franchise for 17 seasons (especially with the Spurs last Finals appearance coming in 2006-07, most other coaches would have been fired during that drought). Rare is the sight of one player sticking with one team throughout the duration of his entire career (Duncan nearly became a member of the Magic at one point). Rare is the sight of a talented core of three sticking together for a decade (not since Magic's Lakers and Bird's Celtics). Rare is the sight for a franchise to keep a core together, especially as a small market (Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili each could have bolted for more money and fame). Overall, the Spurs have defied the odds, and in doing so, they have been a model franchise for small markets. With Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili on the court, and Popovich on the sidelines, the Spurs have jumped into the discussion as one of the greatest basketball dynasties of all-time. With Russell and Bird's Celtics, Johnson and Bryant's Lakers, and Jordan's Bulls serving as competition for the label of "Greatest Dynasty Ever," Duncan's Spurs are certainly in elite company. With such historical context at stake, a loss would provide a sobering closing chapter, whereas a win would move the conversation into undeniable heights.

Heat Dynasty?

With a third straight trip to the Finals, and a chance for a consecutive championship, the Heat have a chance to truly embark on something special. With the Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls nipping at their heels in the Eastern Conference, the Heat will have a lot of tough decisions to make in the upcoming seasons due to prohibitive salary cap taxations. With three guys capable of commanding maximum contracts, Heat ownership will have to decide if they are willing to pay top dollar in order to keep the team together. A loss in this Finals could trigger a foundational break up. But, if the Heat win the championship this season, and possibly three-peat the following season, ownership will have no choice but to keep the team together in an effort to four-peat (something unseen since Russell's Celtics). With a triumvirate core of James, Wade, and Bosh, the Heat certainly have enough skill to become one of the greatest dynasties of all-time, now all they have to do is win.

Coaching Legacies

If coach Popovich leads the Spurs to a fifth ring, he will trail just two coaches in the all-time ranks according to hardware, and he will tie two others. Leading the Spurs in a small market, in the modern age no less, another ring for Popovich would catapult him into the greatest coach of all-time discussion (although he probably is already there). With just Phil Jackson (11 rings as coach), Red Auerbach (9 rings as coach), Pat Riley (5 rings as coach), and John Kundla (5 rings as coach, one of them in the BAA) wearing more hardware, Popovich is in rarified air, and his possible outcome of five rings in five tries would certainly be impressive. Furthermore, a loss wouldn’t necessarily damage Popovich's legacy. He would still have four rings, and he would still trail the same greats. Essentially, Popovich is playing with house money.

On the other side is coach Spoelstra. Spoelstra is aiming for his second ring as head coach, and third ring overall (assistant coach on the '06 squad). Just 42 years old, Spoelstra has the opportunity to enjoy a meteoric rise in the coaching annals. Coaching and managing high end talent is not simple, and if Spoelstra can follow the tips of his superior, and mentor, Pat Riley, he may end up on just as successful a career path. A handful of rings is not out of the question for coach Spoelstra. However, a loss here could mark a significant change upon his career path. If the Heat lose, and the core is broken up (a realistic scenario), Spoelstra could no longer have James delivering him titles, and that would certainly hurt his chances to join the greats on the all-time coaching list.


Series Prediction

With everything up for grabs, let me provide my series prediction.

Judging from the statistical evidence, it is clear that the Heat seem to do everything that the Spurs do, but just a little bit better. With the best player in the world guiding the Heat, it is especially difficult to pick against them (the Vegas odds have the Heat heavily favored at 5-12).

However, I am predicting that the Spurs will win the series in six games. That's right, the Spurs will close out the Heat in Miami in Game 6 (2-3-2 Finals format). I expect Duncan to dominate the painted area offensively and defensively, but it will be Parker who walks away with the NBA Finals MVP. I expect Parker to average 25 points, 9 assists, and 3 rebounds per game while shooting .470% from the field. With Popovich at the helm, the Spurs are masters at playing their brand of ball, and if they can impose their will with high quality looks in the post, and open corner threes, the Spurs will give the Heat fits. 

With Wade and Bosh disappearing in the Eastern Conference Finals, I expect the Spurs to severely limit the performance of everyone except James. James will put up stellar numbers, but the Spurs will shut down his teammates, and in doing so, James will fail to come up with four wins all by himself. Popovich instills defensive schemes to take away what the other team does well, and if the Spurs can limit the role players, they will gain a significant advantage. Picking against James is not the wisest thing to do, but when judging the overall team play throughout the postseason, I believe that the Spurs have the better team. If Wade and Bosh play up to their capabilities, the Heat can win this series in five games, but I don't believe that either will do so.


Your 2013 NBA champions everyone, the San Antonio Spurs!

** For further analysis, check out http://tucktompodcast.tumblr.com/
** I will be a regular contributor to this podcast, and blog, so check it out!