I'm going to watch every single NBA Finals game, including a preview, a halftime report, and a post-game wrap-up of every game.
However, today is just about making a series preview, which will detail the strengths and weaknesses behind the two teams, how they matched up in the regular season, and I'll wrap it up with my prediction on who will win the Larry O' Brien Championship Trophy.
I will also make a prediction on who will win Game 1 in this preview.
So, without further ado, let's get to it.
NBA Finals Preview
We will start first by discussing the Spurs. All stats are postseason stats with the exception of detailing the regular season match-up.
Strengths of the San Antonio Spurs
Another big strength that the Spurs have is their bench. People seem to forget that Manu Ginobili is NOT a starter on this team, rather, he is the backup Shooting Guard behind Danny Green. But the bench is more besides Manu. It's also Boris Diaw, who can spread the floor due to his ability to shoot 3's. he's also 6'8", and 250 lbs. of inside wrecking machine. He can change a game due to everything he can do.
Also, Gregg Popovich is a better coach than Erik Spoelstra. Although I think Spoelstra doesn't get the credit he deserves as a coach (you don't just buy championships, too many examples to name), Pop is just a better coach. He's a master of tactician and strategy, and with Popovich on the Spurs side, it gives them a much-needed boost.
Weaknesses of the San Antonio Spurs
I also think that the Spurs starting five is not as good as Miami's. I think Tim Duncan is better than Chris Bosh, and I'll take Tiago Splitter over the rotation of Battier, Haslem, or Lewis (whoever Miami feels like starting). I'm speaking this through the viewpoint of when the Spurs are on offense, because although Bosh has played much more of the 5 than the 4, he's going to have to play the 4 and defend against Duncan, especially since he is the Heat's best inside defender, at least in the starting line-up (case can be made for Chris Anderson). This is going to lead to mismatches at the 5 spot between Splitter and whoever he goes up against. Don't be surprised if Splitter breaks out this series and averages in double figures throughout the series.
However, I think positions 1-3 are in the Heat's favor. The obvious two are that I like LeBron Jame over Kawhi Leonard at the 3 spot, and I like Dwyane Wade over Danny Green at the 2.
However, I think Mario Chalmers is better than Tony Parker, especially a hobbled one. Don't get me wrong, Parker is a better player than Chalmers when healthy, but there's absolutely no way Tony Parker is going to be 100% at any time throughout this series. He even admits so to a French radio station, saying "I may not be 100% but I'll be there (in the starting lineup)" (translated of course). Sure, he's going to have moments where he shines, but they're not going to be that often with his twisted ankle. I think Mario Chalmers will be more consistent throughout these playoffs, and he's going to be able to get around Parker using his agility and speed. Because of these factors, I think Chalmers and the Heat have the advantage at the 1.
Strengths of the Miami Heat
Another big thing is their starters. They have a huge backcourt advantage. Dwyane Wade, who is constantly questioned about if he is slowing down or not, is a better off-guard than Danny Green.
Another big thing I thing is a strength, that I believe is one of San Antonio's weaknesses, it how the Heat feel "slighted" by how people think they got lucky winning it all last season. Here's a quote from LeBron during yesterday's press conference about if the Heat feel slighted by people remarking that the Spurs gave away last year's Finals.
"Absolutely (we feel slighted). I can't sit here and lie to you, we do. We feel slighted in the fact that it went seven. It went seven. It wasn't like it was 3-0 and you know, they had us in Game 4 and we took it and won four straight."
And I think this rings true. Although others such as Reid Forgrave believe that this means nothing, I think he's wrong. I think that the Heat DO feel slighted at the fact that people think they didn't win the title, but the Spurs lost it. I think this rings true for the team and I think you'll see it throughout this series.
The reason why this is a strength for the Heat and not a weakness is because they already come into the series with nothing to prove, and with that, are probably lacking as much motivation as the Spurs have, not that they aren't motivated. Because people believe the Heat didn't win the title last season, they now have something to play for, to shut the public up and for sure win the title because they were the better team (which is what happened last year, but I digress)
Weaknesses of the Miami Heat
The biggest weakness is their bench. You have Ray Allen, who can make a clutch three at any point in the game, but after him, who else is there?
Whoever the Heat start between the trio of Shane Battier, Udonis Haslem, and Rashard Lewis, the other two will be backups, and both are getting up there in age. For the sake of argument, let's say Shane Battier gets the nod through most of the series. The other two are getting up there in age. Haslem is 33 and Lewis is 34. heck, it's not like Battier is any younger. Matter of fact, he's the oldest of the three at 35.
Then there's James Jones (seen 6 minutes throughout last 5 games, also 33), Norris Cole (averaging 5.8 points through last 5 games), and Chris Anderson (good defense, averaging 9.7 boards throughout last 5 games, not 100%, 35 years old).
Their bench just doesn't compare to what San Antonio can provide. If this series comes down to which team can provide more production of the bench, the Spurs will win this series.
Another weakness of the Heat is their frontcourt compared to the Spurs.
I'm going to assume that Chris Bosh will play the 5 on offense, but the 4 on defense, and whoever starts at the 4 will play the 4 on offense, but will play the 5 on defense. Why do they switch on defense? Because of what Tim Duncan can bring. Because Duncan primarily plays the 4 spot, Chris Bosh is going to have to take over that role and defend him. This leaves whoever plays the 4 spot to guard against Tiago Spitter, who has consistently gotten better throughout the season. This is a big mismatch that I think the Spurs can, and will, exploit.
Regular Season Series
The first game of the series was in Miami, which saw Miami defeat San Antonio, 113-101.
Chris Bosh had a stellar game for Miami, shooting 9-10 from the field en route to a 24-point performance. LeBron James had 18 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists all while creating a +21 differencial when he was on the court.
Dwyane Wade played off the bench this game, scoring 8 points while dishing out 5 assists. This game was the first game Wade played off the bench in over six years.
As for the Spurs, they had injury trouble, as Kawhi Leonard (Hand), Danny Green (Hand), and Tiago Splitter (Shoulder) all did not suit up for this game.
Tim Duncan led the team in scoring with 23 points off of 9-13 shooting. Tony Parker had 11 points along with 7 assists in this game. Manu Ginobili had more turnovers (2) than he had made field goals (1), finishing 1-7 from the field for a measly 3 points.
The second game was played in San Antonio, which saw the Spurs defeat the Heat, 111-87.
The Spurs were led by Duncan once again, who had a double double of 23 points and 11 boards. Boris Diaw had 16 points, 8 boards, and 5 assists. Tony Parker had 17 points and Kawhi Leonard had 5 steals to go along with 11 points.
As for the Heat, they were led in scoring by Chris Bosh, who had 24 points. LeBron had 19 points, but it took him 18 shots to get there. LeBron also had 8 boards, 7 assists, and an ugly 5 turnovers. Same story for Wade, who had 16 points off of 15 shots.
I think that Tony Parker will not be 100% throughout many of the playoff games, but I think he can still turn it on when he needs to.
I also think that because the Spurs have Home-Court Advantage, that is going to play a huge role in who wins this series.
So my Prediction is...
San Antonio Spurs in Seven Games
Game One Prediction
there's nothing much else to say other than my prediction.
I saw the winner is...
San Antonio over Miami, 104-89
First, with the Spurs:
I think Tim Duncan has a double-double tonight, putting up 19 points and 11 rebounds.
Tony Parker turns up the intensity, and dishes out 6 assists along with 15 points.
Boris Diaw gives the bench a boost with 10 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists.
Manu Ginobili struggles in Game one, shooting under 30% while putting up 6 points.
and for Miami:
LeBron leads the team in scoring, putting up 21 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists.
Dwyane Wade also puts up 17 points along with 2 steals and 3 assists.
Chris Bosh adds 15 points and 7 rebounds.
Nobody else scores more than 8.