On paper, the NBA Finals is a basketball purist dream. They’re two of the best offensive ball clubs in the league; highly efficient and effective.
The San Antonio Spurs play with a selfless pass-heavy system that is rarely duplicated in today’s “superstar-centric” NBA with the best coach in the business. The Miami Heat play a spacing attack led by the best player in the NBA. Together, their styles clash and mesh well at the same time.
For the Spurs to be successful, they need to exploit the lack of depth of the Heat. In addition to their “Big Three,” the Spurs boast a plethora of sharpshooters and versatile big men to create mismatches. Last season, the Spurs nearly clinched the finals against a better Heat team, but fell due to key mistakes late in the series. This time around, they’re the better shooting team (with more three-pointer options), a healthier Manu Ginobili, and a better version of their bench (with special note to Boris Diaw‘s improved play).
The Heat need to compensate for their loss of depth from last season. They’re going to need LeBron James to excel past his current playoff performance, Dwyane Wade to reset the clock, and Chris Bosh to stop his impersonation of Ray Allen. A few key games and explosions from any combination of the supporting cast (Rashard Lewis, Norris Cole, Ray Allen) may just be enough for the Heat’s hope for a three-peat.
In the NBA Finals, the difference between winning and losing may be an unknown x-factor. For the Spurs, that comes in the form of coach Gregg Popovich’s pet players: Patty Mills and Diaw. If those two get it going with the minutes they’re allowed, the matchup issues both players provide will drive the Heat defenses insane. As for the Heat, it may come down to the shooting stroke of Ray Allen. If Allen can don his “Jesus Shuttlesworth” persona once again and be that third or fourth option, the Heat will be balanced and threatening enough on offense to win it.
Photo credit: Frederic J. BROWNFREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images
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