Both of these teams played in the Finals last season. Both of these teams won their respective conferences championship series in 6 games. There are however vast differences amongst the two teams this time around. The Heat proved to be just as good a team on the road as they were at home while the Spurs were dominated on the road in the Western Conference Finals. Both teams have made minor changes in their rotation players but overall have the same key players as last season.
Point Guard- Mario Chalmers vs. Tony Parker
This matchup could look much different if Parkers ankle prevents him from playing his typical game. If healthy Parker is the premier point guard in the game and his playoff experience makes him one of the most dangerous players on the court. Chalmers makes few mistakes and is a dangerous outside shooter. He plays off the ball often and is a perfect compliment to the rest of the Miami starters.
Advantage- San Antonio (provided Parkers Health)
Shooting Guard- Dwayne Wade vs. Danny Green
If not for the fantastic play of Wade all playoff’s long, this matchup would not be as lopsided as it appears. Green had a fantastic Western Conference Final and was on his way to being named Finals MVP had the Spurs won the series last year. He is a knockdown shooter and is a perfect fit in the teams system. Wade has made the Heat’s decision to rest him often as well as limit his minutes throughout the season look like a stroke of genius. He has been great throughout and the rest during the regular season has led to him being to be able to play big minutes in these playoffs
Small Forward- LeBron James vs. Kawhi Leonard
If they were to magically create a prototype human being to defend James it would be Leonard. He has the size and length to be able to take any pounding in the post James wants to try. He is not nearly as fast but is quick enough to stay in front of him on the perimeter. James is the best active player in the world and is seeking his 3rd straight NBA championship.
Power Forward- Shane Battier/ Udonis Haslem vs. Thiago Splitter/ Matt Bonner
Both teams are capable of playing big lineups with Haslem and Splitter respectively or Battier and Bonner respectively. This position while a relative weakness for both teams could be the deciding factor in several games throughout the series. Battier or Bonner are both more than capable of hitting multiple three pointers in a game while Splitter and Haslem are strong defenders and rebounders that could impact the game in that way
Center- Chris Bosh vs. Tim Duncan
Both players have been fantastic throughout the playoffs while playing completely different styles. Bosh plays well from the elbows as a scorer as well as a facilitator from the 3-point line. He is a dangerous outside shooter who will draw the attention of whomever is defending him away from the basket. Duncan is in search of his 5th title and his play has not diminished at all. He can be counted on for 18 points and 12 rebounds a night and on nights when the Spurs need it he will inflate those categories.
Bench- Miami has a sparkplug in Norris Cole, he provides instant energy and is a strong outside shooter. Ray Allen is arguably the greatest shooter of all time and has been playing fantastic throughout the playoffs. Chris Anderson provides depth to the Heat frontcourt and is an active defender. The Spurs have one of the deepest benches in the league. Manu Ginobili has played consistently great throughout the playoffs and has played in plenty of these games throughout his career. Veterans like Boris Diaw and Marco Bellinelli are just as likely to play 25 minutes as they are to not play at all. Backup point guard Patty Mills is a great scorer and he would find his role greatly increased if Parker is injured
Advantage- San Antonio
Parker’s health is the key to the series. If he is healthy then this is truly a coin toss matchup where either team could easily win it. If he is limited or does not play the Spurs have zero chance against a Heat team in search of its 3rd consecutive ring. Leonard will need to avoid foul trouble, as he is the only player on the Spurs physically capable of slowing LeBron down. If both teams are healthy then we are in line for a classic NBA finals series.
Series pick – Spurs in 7
Game 1 Pick
Take San Antonio -4
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