Can the Heat Close it? The SBM Sports NBA Finals Preview

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It took seven games, but this was what most of us had expected all along. The Miami Heat sprinted away from the Indiana Pacers and into the Finals. The Heat defense swarmed, forcing the Pacers into some awful shots and turnovers. Roy Hibbert and Paul George were more themselves than Hakeem Olajuwon and Scottie Pippen. And Dwyane Wade put up a good effort – good for him these days anyway – showing flashes of the aggressiveness that made him a champion.

Just a few hours ago, the Heat’s “Not-5-Not-6-Not-7” dynasty was almost over before it really got started. Instead Miami marches on to its third straight Finals more vulnerable than at any point this season. But can the San Antonio Spurs take advantage? Indiana certainly showed the blueprint, but the Spurs don’t have the muscle inside to intimidate the Heat the same way. A lot of factors to consider, let’s break down the upcoming Finals matchup:

Can San Antonio handle Miami’s pressure defense?

My money is on yes.

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Coach Gregg Poppovich is one of the best in the league, and he’ll have a scheme ready. Turnovers, one of the main reasons Miami jumped on the Pacers, aren’t as bad an issue for the Spurs. Tony Parker is the key here. He led the Spurs to the Finals with drive after drive into the lane. More of the same against Miami will keep the Heat on their heels and keep their pressure at bay.

I don’t think Mario Chalmers is up to the task of stopping Parker, and Dwyane Wade has one working knee. Does that mean LeBron will be the one trying to keep Parker in front of him? If so, the other wing players on the Spurs will have their chance to step up.

Can Miami control the lane on both sides of the floor?

Post play was the main reason this series lasted to seven games. In their wins, the Pacers dominated underneath by outrebounding and scoring over the smaller Heat big men. Tim Duncan is the best power forward ever, and Tiago Splitter has had over a week for his sprained ankle to heal. Can they match the output of Hibbert and David West?

Yes and no.

The Pacers thrived on the inside/out attack of Hibbert and West. Both players were successful with their back to the basket and shooting jump shots. Duncan can be the best big man in this series, but Splitter could easily be matched by one of Chris Bosh, Chris Andersen, or even Udonis Haslem. The Spurs were in the bottom half of the league in rebounding this season, so they can’t rely on that advantage like Indiana. I see Miami playing the Spurs to a draw here, which adds up to an advantage for the Heat because they are the better team. More possessions for them is a problem for the Spurs.

Is Chris Bosh still alive?

Probably. But I wouldn’t be shocked if he wasn’t.

Bosh averaged a grand total of seven(!!) points in the final four games against the Pacers, shooting much better from outside the three point line than inside it. He should fare better against defenders who aren’t named David West and Roy Hibbert. The Spurs don’t have defenders that (seemingly) put the feat of God into Bosh, so he should come alive in the Finals.

This season, Bosh has been featured as a glorified wing player with the ability to go inside. Against Indiana, he was Vladamir Radmanovich…a seven foot shooting guard. That has to change, and I’m sure Bosh knows that. Thankfully for him, the Spurs don’t have the depth to challenge Bosh inside for the entire game.

The Prediction:

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I have the Heat in six games. Indiana showed Miami its mortality during the Eastern Conference Finals. I think the Heat will start this series on the attack defensively, and fall in line behind LeBron James on offense. San Antonio is a great team, but they thrive on the outside and the Heat, no matter how bad Indiana made them look, are the best team on the perimeter. Swap Tiago Splitter for the Roy Hibbert from this past series, and I might change my mind.

Instead, Miami will be one step closer to the dynasty they predicted when the Big Three came together.

That’s how I see the Finals playing out, what do you think? What are the keys to the Finals? Who do you see winning it all? Put your money where your mouth is in the comments below!

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  • http://www.opinionatedmale.com cortonio

    Barring any human element, Miami is winning this series, David Stern got what he wanted as far as not having and Indy v Spurs NBA final. He has one more step, make sure LBJ the golden boy, the poster child, walks away with his second ring. I do laud San Antonio's bench and their toughness as a whole, but they're not winning this series. If the games are close watch the whistles start flying and they'll make sure LBJ and D-wade get their fair share of calls in their favor, and the flop fest of Bosh, Battier, and Chalmers will continue. Bottom line is anyone who thought Indy was winning that series was fooling themselves.
    My recent post Lord Of The Rings: Phil Jackson A Legend Or Lucky S.O.B.?

    • Joe Sargent

      I gotta ask…do you think Stern is overtly calling the shots and dictating who goes where, Vince McMahon style? Or do you think it's more an unspoken thing?

  • Peter Parker

    MIA like I said at the beginning of the season! Can't nobody stop them boys!

    • Joe Sargent

      The fellow commentors are not amused by the looks of your +/- score thingy, lol.

  • Uncle Hugh, BP

    Miami better get serious, and soon.

    If 2/5ths of the Bulls starting lineup can be competitive against them, and a team that couldn't even finish with 50 wins (in the East!) in the regular season takes them to seven (and could have eliminated them in six if not for a poor substitution at the end of game one), the Spurs will put them out in five. If Nate Robinson and Roy Hibbert looked that good against them, what are Tony Parker and the best power forward in the 67-year history of the league going to do?

    Now Miami should win. But they have to play much, much better than they have since the playoffs started.

    • Larry

      Bulls and Pacers presented a contrast of styles that matched up well with the Heat…no matter who was hurt or not. Defensively they could keep in ball games, but offensively they were horrid.

      Parker will give them problems….but Parker gives everyone problems so that's nothing new there…he's been playing well all year for a reason…he's very good, lol. Duncan won't give them as much problems as Hibbert did, but Tim should play well.

      Spurs won't beat themselves. The Heat at their best beat the Spurs at their best….it'll come down to which team's defense can get stops late in ball games. Should be a great series!

      • Joe Sargent

        Agree with Larry. The Bulls and Pacers posed specific matchup problems that I don't think the Spurs can lean on as heavily. Duncan will get his, but I don't think Splitter, Blair, or Diaw will come near the production of a David West, Hibbert, Joakim Noah, or even Boozer.

        Parker will have to be a God for the Spurs to win IMO. He was against Memphis, so it's possible. But I think SA will need him to collapse the Heat defense to create advantages that way.

    • Uncle Hugh, BP

      The Spurs certainly don't have the Pacers size/strength, but they aren't using the Pacers template to beat the Heat either. If Miami can't contain Nate freaking Robinson, Parker is going to eat them up. And they simply have no recourse against Duncan, should he decide to be aggressive. It will be amusing to see them test that "Lebron can guard anyone" theory and try to have him guard Duncan.

      The Spurs big men will do what they do: pass well and hit open shots. That's all they need to do. Miami should win, but they have to start playing like Miami. Then again, Duncan is undefeated in the Finals, Los Spurs don't beat themselves, and Popovich can outcoach anyone in the league.

      Ultimately, I'm just hoping it goes seven.

    • Adonis

      (and could have eliminated them in six if not for a poor substitution at the end of game one)

      I don’t know whether the Heat would have went down if they lost Game 1, but the Pacers should have won that game.

      I think the Pacers still would have lost this series regardless.

  • Larry

    Man, this is kind of difficult for me. The Miami Heat team that played in that Pacer series (more notably games 1,2, 4, 5 and 6) is not the same Heat team that won 66 games in the regular season. They're just not. If the Heat play like the Heat that had won 27 straight games then I have the Heat in 6 games. But if it's this more recent Heat team then it's a coin flip in my opinion. BUT I will make a definite prediction and will go with the Heat and play the "they have the best player in the world" card as my main reasoning, lol.

    As far as stopping Parker it will have to be a team effort as no one person can just shut him down. He is playing amazing ball right now.

    • Joe Sargent

      To your last point, the Heat put the ultimate stopper, LBJ, on Derrick Rose in crunch time against the Bulls a couple years ago. If it comes down to it, I think they'll have to again. He'll eat up Chalmers and Cole, and I think the "team" having to help will lead to Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard corner threes.

      The more I talk about it, the more I see Parker as the key to this series. Miami wins unless Parker can do what he did to Memphis. That said, Heat in 6. As you noted, they have LeBron, who can beat you from the post, midrange, or three apparently. Remember when sagging off him was a viable option?

      • Larry

        Agreed….it's funny how everyone is talking about ways the Spurs can score on the Heat and beat 'em, but is anyone gonna figure out how the Spurs are going to stop Miami from doing what they do?

        • Joe Sargent

          Kawhi Leonard will have to have his "Paul George grown up" moment during this series. I'm guessing he'll be the guy guarding LBJ for most of the game. If he can bother LeBron without allowing everyone else the space to go off, that's SA's best hope. That's why they traded George Hill for him, we'll see if he's up to it.

  • Adonis

    The key to this series is DWAYNE WADE. If can do what he did in Game 7, for about 2-3 games, Heat in 7.

    The biggest issue I have is that I can’t see the Heat going down 2 games in a row (2-0) or (3-1), they are excellent when desperate, which means if that premise holds up. The only way for SA to win is to win games 1,3,5,7 to win.

    I will dream it up anyway.

    I got Spurs in 6. They win, Game 1,3,4,6. Manu G. Finals MVP.

    Bosh will get a freak injury in Game 2.

    Game 2 & 4 will go into OT.

    • Joe Sargent

      That is a thorough prediction, lol. I actually had Miami winning the same games you have going to the Spurs. Well, I think they will split in Miami, the Heat will take 2 in San Antonio, then close in game 6. The actual games might differ.

  • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan

    The Spurs will identify your biggest strength and force you to beat them in other ways, the Lakers had nothing, Klay and Barnes pulled it off once, Memphis had nothing….Miami has two advantages, the Spurs have no answer for LeBron, LeBron himself can beat you 3-4 different ways. The Spurs will probably take away the 3 like they did against GSW, and LeBron can then post up and his streaky jumpshot can probably steal another game.

    I’d say Heat in 6, via games 1,4,5,6

  • MaggK

    WOW yall watched game 1 right?
    Well it looks like it's gonna be a good serie… :)!
    I'm all smiling because it's always a pleasure to see Miami struggle… And to see my fellow french buddy, Tony Parker, being awesome!
    I'd say Miami in 7 though ( i really wish i'm wrong lol!)

    • Joe Sargent

      I was gonna call you a Heat Hater, but you have the whole French thing going for you. I took French for five years in elementary school. Can I be down?

      • MaggK

        Lol i'm not even a Heat hater, like I said in the previous post i'm a Wade hater and a Heat FANS hater :)!..LOL!
        I don't even care about TP like that (it's just funny to see french medias covering the NBA more than they usually do!) i just don't want the Heat to win this year.

  • AfterMath

    That was a really good game last night. I mean, no turnovers in the second quarter. LBJ had like 18 rebounds? Miami loses. I'm loving this. Keep on winning Duncan.
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  • Hairbear_FLL

    History has shown that when the Heat loses the first game of the Finals, they went on to win, both in 2006 and last year. This year will be no different.

    HEAT DOMINATION!

    Calling it in Game 7.

  • Irene

    Heat has won the game 6. Tomorrow is Game 7. Who will win? Let's all see.

    Irene (Rogue River Fishing)