Spurs at Heat: 8pm Central on ABC.
THE ULTIMATE BATTLE OF GOOD VS. EVIL!!!! Ah, screw that. If that narrative takes hold, it's gonna make me puke. This is pro sports at the highest level. It's not a moral issue; win when you can, how you can, as much as you can. The Heat do it one way, the Spurs do it another. These are two smart, well-run franchises who have earned their way here. Let's hope it's a good one.
Anyway, here we are. The defending champion Heat host one of the iconic teams of this generation: The Tim Duncan/Gregg Popovich led San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs, after a bit of trouble with Golden State, swept Memphis out of the Western Conference Finals and have been waiting for 10 days for this series to begin. The Heat are coming off a very tough 7 gamer with the Pacers that ended on Monday. Will that difference in rest have an effect either way? We'll see.
There are many people more equipped than me to analyze this series. But there are things I'm looking forward to.
How will Miami guard Tony Parker? Parker makes the Spurs offense go with his ability to get into the lane and either finish or pass. I don't see Miami's point guards being able to deal with him consistently; will Spoelstra assign LeBron James to him for stretches? Will Miami aggressively double him on pick and rolls?
Will Tim Duncan be able to guard Chris Bosh on the perimeter? This has been a problem; Bosh is one of the better jump shooting big men around, especially from the mid-range. He's one of the few guys who makes enough of these shots to make it worth while, and Duncan doesn't get out to guard that shot. Bosh could have a big series, and if he does, it's gonna be a big problem for the Spurs.
Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, and Matt Bonner vs. Shane Battier, Ray Allen, and Mike Miller. These two teams are among the best three point shooting teams in the league, because they each feature players whose job on offense is pretty much: go to spots and make open threes. Miami struggled against Indiana because, for large chunks of the series, their shooters were missing these shots. Which team can do better from behind the arc is going to have a big effect on this series.
Can LeBron James get enough help? Even the best player in the world needs teammates to play well. There were times in the Indiana series when it felt like James was out there by himself; in those games the Heat often came up short. He needs help if for no other reason than to ensure he has enough left in the last four minutes to bring the Heat home. Dwyane Wade has been a particular no-show through much of the playoffs. Knee trouble or not, he's got to carry his share of the load for the Heat to win.
I'm hoping for a long series, because it's the last real basketball we'll see for a while. Can't say I have a strong rooting interest, but I love the game at its highest levels, and this is it. Ultimately, having the best player and home court advantage means the Heat should be favored. I'll guess Heat in six.
Who ya got? Enjoy the game, and talk about it here.