Fact or Fiction
June 3, 2014
By Mike Rose
For the second straight season, the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat are set to square off in the NBA Finals. We'll go through what is the truth about this series and what is complete bunk about these two teams with the series starting Thursday night in San Antonio.
Home court advantage will make all the difference: It's what made the difference last season when these two teams played, so why not now? The Spurs have a ridiculous points per 100 possessions of 122.4 over the course of their last eight games played here at the AT&T Center, and they have scored at least 104 points in all of those games. San Antonio is legitimately perhaps the most dangerous team in basketball when playing in its own arena, and short of the first couple games against the Dallas Mavericks, there isn't a team which has really shown the spunk to be able to go out and win in the Lone Star State against the men in black and silver.
Tony Parker's injury is going to be a difference maker: We're going to talk about the depth of the Spurs in just a second, but here's the one place where we are sure that the Heat can take a massive edge. Mario Chalmers, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade have averaged 4.2 steals per game in these playoffs, and they are three of the best in the league at stepping in front of passes and taking them the other way for easy transition buckets. If the Spurs are really going to be missing Parker, even if it's just for a few extra minutes on a nightly basis in this series, Miami should be able to take advantage, as Manu Ginobili, Cory Joseph, and Patty Mills just don't make up a great distributing point guard trio beyond Parker.
The Heat are fine without Mike Miller: When you really look at these two teams, part of the reason why they are here once again is because they have basically the same rosters that they did a year ago. However, the Spurs have added an assassin from long range in Marco Belinelli, while Miami has lost one of its top guns in Miller. Just go back to that three-point play for the Heat in Game 6. Part of the reason why Ray Allen had the opportunity for a respectable look from downtown is because Tim Duncan wasn't on the court. He really didn't have anyone to guard with Miller out there as well at the de facto power forward position with James at the center spot. Now with Miller gone to Memphis, who is Miami going to put out there in that spot? Norris Cole? It's not nearly going to be good enough if this series plays out exactly as it did last season.
Age has caught up to the Spurs: Though we do believe that this is the end of the road for 37-year old Tim Duncan, we definitely challenge the thought that this team is too old to be effective. Sure, the Duncan/Parker/Ginobili troika has 103 years on this earth between them, but when you look up and down the lineup aside from that, there isn't much in the way of 30-somethings. Head Coach Gregg Popovich has done a fantastic job of limiting the minutes which all of his vets have played this year, and that has kept them fresh for this run in the playoffs. Meanwhile, there really is nothing but 30-somethings on the Heat right now (ok, James and Bosh are both 29), and that really shows that the window of opportunity is closing on this team without making another splash in free agency. If depth wins this series (and we think that it will), the Spurs are going to be the Larry O'Brien Trophy holders in another two weeks.
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