Welcome to the 7# NBA finals preview, for this series, we are going to do it almost like a roundtable, and give our writers free reign at the end to explain why they picked who they picks. We are going to wrap up the Pacers, talk the future of Tim, and who ya GOT? Joining us today is EJ, David, Bill, and the Return of DJ to the hardwood! Enjoy!
EJ: Game 7 was a letdown. After the Pacers taking it to the Heat in Game 6, I really expected more of the same in Game 7. I thought the Heat would win, but I wasn’t going to be surprised if Hibbert, West, and George had their way with the Heat and won Game 7. However, by halftime I lost all interest in the game because I already knew the Heat were going to win going away. The Pacers gave us a great series, and a great playoffs, but in the end they just weren’t ready for primetime.
DJ: LeBron James has turned into one of the greatest clutch performers in just a few seasons. During the game, TNT flashed a stat that James is #1 all time in scoring in game 7’s with 34ppg. Ahead of….you guessed it, MJ. For a while it looked like LeBron was back in his Cavs days when he had to carry the team, but then Ray Allen hit some big 3’s and Wade came alive.
I agree with EJ, game 7 was a bit of a letdown after 6 great games.
David: I think the Pacers shot their wad on game 6, but if they played a game 8, I think the Pacers would tie the series again. Its pretty easy to look at the MASSIVE free-throw discrepancy between the two teams, and think the refs helped, but watching the game, the refs really didn’t have that huge an impact. The Heat just pushed the boards more and pushed their way into the paint more. That game 1 brain-fart is going to haunt them for months.
Bill: I was disappointed that the final game in what had become such a bitter yet competitive series ended in such a blowout loss. To be honest, I, like everyone else, fully expected MIA to come out on top and especially so seeing as how they were at home. I was somewhat disappointed by several calls that should have gone against MIA but were ignored. Once again, the home team (and the media darling) moves on the the league’s big game. That aside, this series was very much winnable by IND. The egregious mental lapse in the closing seconds of game one was completely unforgivable. There is NO WAY James should have had the ball that close to the cup. Period. Make him take and make a jumper and never let a layup be your undoing.
EJ: I don’t think so. The Spurs are an older team and I’d have to think a rested Parker, Ginobili, and Duncan only helps them out. Having over a week to rest before Game 1 this Thursday should have them refreshed. They may start off rusty due to the layoff but I can’t see the rest affecting the entire series.
DJ: I know Pop is a great coach, but this time off has taken away any momentum they may have had. The Heat are coming off a great game 7 win and SA may be a little rusty. I expect Miami to steal game 1 and it might be by double digits. The rest of the series, I don’t know.
David: I don’t see the rust coming into play. The Spurs have spent this time off working on the Heat, don’t think for a second they expected to see the Pacers here. They have done nothing but work on the how they are going to face this team, and don’t be stunned if the Spurs drop game 1, just to get their sets correct and not throw all their tricks out there.
Bill: If anything, a layoff helps more than it hurts. Remember this is an old team and creaky bones and joints need some rest. Time off might hurt a team full of younger and inexperienced players, but this is not that team. I fully expect the Spurs to be rested and ready come game time.
EJ: I hope so. I always like to see an athlete going out on top and winning a 5th ring and passing Shaq in the rings count should be the way to go. Going out on top, and at least creating a valid argument for the best big man of the era would be the best scenario to ending Timmy’s Hall of Fame career. The better question is if the Spurs win their 5th ring and Tim does decide to walk away does Pop walk away too? It’s been rumored that Coach Popovich would walk away when Tim does, so do the two of them walk away if the Spurs are victorious in the Finals? That should only add to the Finals intrigue.
DJ: Yes. It’s been a while since the Spurs have been there, but this is all about Tim Duncan. I thought he was close to being finished a few years ago, but he’s playing like a man possessed. Especially, since finding out his wife was cheating on him with her trainer. It’s like he’s playing with a chip on his shoulder or like he has something to prove. And he has absolutely NOTHING to prove. His pedigree is great. I would love to see him win and ride off into the proverbial sunset with #5.
David: I’m not sure Duncan is gone if they retire. I do think that Manu is gone if they win however, but the perfect picture would be Tim, Pop and Manu all leaving and Tony Parker either swapped for a Massive Package ™ or left to be the building block. Duncan seems the type who would be ok playing a reduced role as long as he likes his teammates and his system, keep in mind he did go back to Wake Forest for his senior year for no legitimate reason outside of the fact he just wanted to.
Bill: It’s hard to say just what’s on ol’ Timmy’s mind these days, but there’d be no better way for him to go out than on top and against such a stellar opponent. He’s had a phenomenal career and his longevity at a high skill level is hard to believe. Usually a player at his age and position have to rely on his height to remain in the league; despite that great height, Duncan has some of the very best fundamental skills upon which to rely when facing much quicker and younger opponents. Even though age might be creeping up on Duncan, his skills are just as sharp as ever as is his desire to win. I don’t necessarily seeing things work out as the Spurs faithful would like, but it would be a great end to an outstanding career.
EJ: My head says that the Spurs experience should be the X-factor and push them past a Heat team that has struggled the last two rounds of the playoffs, but my gut says this is LeBron’s time and as long as he is healthy he and the Heat will win another ring. So who do I got? I’ll go with my gut here and say the Heat will win in 7 games. Yes, I expect the Finals will go down to the wire and the two teams will trade body blows throughout the entire series but at the very end LeBron and company will come out on top at home.
DJ: Miami in 5, maybe 6. After facing a young and hungry team in the Pacers, I just like the Heat to win. Yes, the Spurs have veterans, but Manu Ginobli aka as Obiwan Ginobili on another site I frequent, is done. He’s shooting 38.3% from the field (career low) and 32.4% on 3’s. He’s dishing out the assists and grabbing the rebounds, but his sharpshooter eye has left the building and his bald spot is growing. I think his decline will affect them.
David: SPURS IN SIX I said it, keep in mind I’ve only missed ONE series in every pick. Take your chances. I got the Heat Game 1, then the Spurs take 2/3 Heat win 4, then the Spurs close it out.
Bill: MIA in SIX. Despite the overwhelming depth of championship experience owned by the vets on the Spurs, veteran savvy will only carry a team so far. The Heat have a great core of talent that’s younger and faster than that of the Spurs. It’s going to be a good series and a battle of wills in the end. Will that savvy win out against youth and talent? We’ll see… but I’m thinking that MIA ends up lofting the trophy in the end.
EJ: Since 1999 there has been three teams that have participated in every Finals. Two of those teams meet this year in the Heat and the Spurs (the Lakers are the 3rd team). That’s impressive and a credit to the two franchises in building teams with consistency. I’m interested in the individual matchups of Parker vs. Wade and Duncan vs. Bosh. Those two matchups appear to be even on paper but coming into this Finals both Wade and Bosh are receiving fair criticisms for their struggles against the Pacers. This might be LeBron’s time but he needs their help and all eyes are on Bosh and Wade. They need to step up, convert their chances, and help their superstar win his 2nd ring.
DJ: I think Ray Allen will be key in this series. He’s struggling a little with his shooting, but in game 7 against the Pacers, he stepped up and made 3 of 5 3-pointers. That’s not a lot, but when you consider the rest of the team made just 3 of 11? That’s huge.
And yes, Wade and Bosh have to step up after struggling against Indiana. But, Bosh was struggling against a young 7-2 and 280 pound center in Hibbert. TD is playing well like I said earlier, but he’s older than Bosh. And a lot older than Hibbert.
Shane Battier was struggling in the ECF with 22.7% shooting and 23% on 3’s. Mike Miller and Rashard Lewis need some playing time because the Heat need to make some outside shots. They struggled against the Pacers with their outside shooting. Miller set a record last year against the Thunder and he’s capable of providing some outside scoring. And Lewis can stretch the floor as a 3point shooting power forward.
But, the Heat have James and he’s the best player on the planet. Good luck, Kawhi Leonard. You’re going to need it.
David: Ok, lets talk crunch time. LeBrons on Parker. Wade is on Manu. Udonis is on Leonard, So that leaves Bosh on Thiago and Duncan with . . .BIRDMAN. Bosh wants no part of Duncan late in the game, and I don’t think the Heat want UH even CLOSE to Duncan, and lord knows if the Warden hits the floor the Heat are done. LeBron is the Swiss-army knife of the Heats D, but the Spurs are MASTERS at the pick and roll, and the poor sap that is swapping off of LeBrons man is going to be in trouble. Over/Under of pick and roll high screen if Ray Allen and Cole are on the floor at the same time? 30? 40? Explain to me what happens when Mike Miller hits the floor and LeBron is on the bench. Heck how about if Wade is the only starter on the floor? or Bosh? The Heat do have one player that might save them not named LeBron. Shane Battier. I can see him taking Duncan for long stretches than you would think. If he can do that, that leaves Birdman on Blair or even Thiago, and saves his energy for the boards. Duncan is not going to throw up a 4pt 2board game like certain Pacer players. I think the Spurs are deeper, and I as much as Coach Spo has been better than most expected. Pop is still the best one out there.
Bill: A fan of neither team, this will be a series of non-interest for me. That said, as a fan of the game of basketball, few series come to mind that pit two teams against one another with as much talent, desire, or experience as these two. I’d love nothing more than to see an old nemesis, Tim Duncan, close out his career with another title. I’ve always hated the Spurs but never Tim Duncan. The guy is just class all around and a throwback player this league only sees every so often. He will be missed whether he hangs up his kicks after this season or the next. As for the Heat, it’s hard to argue with the two headed (and often three headed) monster that is Wade, James, and Bosh. I was disappointed to see James pull his publicity stunt in order to go to MIA to play and I will continue to be disappointed in him for doing so as that was so very, very classless. In this day and age, the easy thing to do is to go where you have the best chance to win and for him, that meant outside of CLE. The same goes for Bosh in that regard. Despite my disdain for running away from being the focal point(s) on their respective teams to join together to win, they’ve finally got it together and have put the rest of the league on notice that any talk of a title goes through their town.
Duncan will be a major factor as will Parker. Ginobili can be deadly is left open and has made teams pay time and again for leaving him alone. Leonard should get in some good run and make trouble for MIA on the defensive end as should Splitter. Will it be enough? MIA brings their trio to do damage as well, but will anyone besides them step up? Will Spoelstra give his bench some run? Lots of questions… no clear answers.
This series should be a good one no matter the outcome and no matter what my personal feelings are. I’m just glad that OKC ate a dick along the way. Disappointment for Clay Bennett two seasons in a row simply makes me smile. I hope his misery continues, too.
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