With the 2013 NBA Finals now upon us, there’s still a bit of time left for all the chatter about who is going to win and why. This will be one of those articles. So to get things rolling, this writer predicts that the San Antonio Spurs will defeat the Miami Heat in seven games to win this year’s NBA championship.
The biggest similarity between the two teams is that each brings its own “Big Three”, though each team’s Big Three are very different as far as how each individual plays, how each threesome collectively play and the speed in which they play the game. The Heat’s Big Three favor a more fast-paced style of play where the Spurs favor more passing and setting up of plays.
The fun part about this pairing is that both team’s Big Three are able to do what the other excels at. They don’t do it as often as their opponent, but they still have the ability to play their opponent’s game and not get run out of the arena while doing it.
As far as the coaching comparison goes, most people are going to favor Spurs coach Gregg Popovich over Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. And they’d be right to do it as Popovich is the better coach right now.
However, downplaying Spoelstra to the point where he is perceived to be a coach in name only is not a good idea. This isn’t trying to make people believe that Spoelstra is the best coach of his time or anything even close to that, but it is a call for basketball fans to give Spoelstra his credit as a coach.
The coach isn’t on the floor, but he is the guy who’s drawing up the plays the team runs, motivates & disciplines the players when needed and is the glue that holds a team together. In sports, putting together a team of stars is nothing if there isn’t a qualified coach in charge of those stars.
Many fans mocked Spoelstra’s position when the Heat’s “Big Three” was formed with the belief that “anyone could coach this team.”
Not true because the great majority of sports fans have no idea or don’t care about any of the things that need to be done outside of competition or trades. These are the things that help keep a team focused and ready at all levels of operation. This is where a good coach or a great coach can turn a group of stars into a team of champions. That is exactly what Spoelstra has done with the Heat.
There are two things that are likely to be the biggest factors in deciding this season’s NBA champion: the nearly two-week layoff the Spurs will have had by the time the finals start and the 2-3-2 system of home games instead of the 2-2-1-1-1 format used during the rest of the playoffs.
A long layoff during the playoffs is an unpredictable factor no matter what sport it occurs in. In this case, the Spurs are a team whose best players are aging and whose depth is made up of younger players with nowhere near the finals experience that the Spurs’ big three have. All of this may show that the Spurs will be at a disadvantage when the finals begins.
However, the leadership that the Spurs’ aging Big Three collectively have should be enough, in this writer’s opinion, for the Spurs to not let the series get out of hand early. This means the Spurs will get at least one win in Miami to begin the series.
That win will be game two because history has shown that when off for that long, it takes a game for the team that was off to fully get back to being their normal selves. In other words, game one generally goes to the team that is fresher in competition.
Once the series heads to San Antonio (starting with game three), it’s basically impossible to point to the layoff as a reason no matter how the series is going.
One thing to note on this subject: this prediction is predicated on the Spurs winning at least one game in Miami to start the series. If the Spurs go back to San Antonio down 2-0, they’re done. It wouldn’t be impossible for a team to come back from 2-0 down in the NBA Finals (the Heat did it in 2006), but this season it would mean the Spurs would have to win two of three at home at the least to stay alive.
Simply put, it is a tall order to have to win four of five against this Heat team. If we were back in 2011, the Spurs being down 2-0 wouldn’t be as catastrophic.
This writer sees this year’s finals going down this way: the Spurs will go back home tied 1-1, they will win two of three at home, the Heat will win game six with their backs against the wall and the Spurs will pull out a game seven win on the road to take it all.
Specifically, game seven will feature a big fourth quarter from the Spurs that will see them use their last bits of intelligence and energy to overcome a more athletic opponent, similar to how the Spurs beat the Detroit Pistons in game seven of the 2005 Finals.